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Fitness trackers, watches and step counters

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What is a fitness tracker?

An activity tracker or fitness tracker is a small device usually worn as a band around the wrist, like a watch, that tracks how much exercise or activity you do in a day. This can include your daily steps, as well as timed activities such as running or yoga. The device usually links to your smartphone via bluetooth or the internet and downloads the data stored on the band to an app on your phone. On the app you can view how many steps you have taken, or how many calories you have burned. Some fitness bands have a watch function as and they can also track your sleep patterns and heartbeat.

Types of fitness trackers

There are many different types of fitness trackers on the market. Most commonly, these double up as a watch or wristband but can also come in the form of an arm band or fitted clothing with sensors. The majority of activity trackers are modernised versions of a pedometer capable of tracking calories burned, pace and distance of your activity. Often they can check the quality of your sleep and log results such as your water intake or heart rate.

Benefits of using fitness trackers

Whilst owning a fitness tracker alone won’t help you to lose weight, it can have its benefits, for example:

  • Accountability – if you’ve set a fitness goal, your tracker should allow you log this information into your phone or computer. This will allow you to start noticing when you’re going off track and help you to adjust your activity. Some fitness trackers will even encourage you to set a daily reminder for some added motivation.
  • Goal setting – whether you’re planning a marathon or climbing a mountain, being able to keep track of your training progress over time can be a useful tool in seeing where improvements to your training need to made.
  • Stay connected – many fitness trackers allow you to stay connected to your phone even when you’re out and about.
  • Sleep quality – an important aspect of overall health is achieving a healthy seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Fitness trackers can often help you keep track of your sleep quality which can positively impact your energy levels and mood.

What do you want from a fitness tracker?

Deciding which fitness tracker is best for you depends upon what you want the activity tracker to do. Is sleep tracking important to you or does it need to be waterproof? You also want to pick an activity tracker that you’ll want to wear all the time, that is comfortable and looks good. Trackers are not just seen as a weight loss aid or useful fitness device, but as part of your individual style, so there are plenty of designs and colours to choose from to match your personality.

Fully functioning watch

You might want your exercise tracker to double as a watch, so that you don’t need to wear two bands on your wrist or look at your phone to know the time. Many activity watches also have touch-screen so that you can swap between the watch face and your fitness progress, allowing you to keep on top of your fitness goals and not be late for that important meeting.

Step counter

If you’re looking for a simple way to track your steps without having to use your phone then a stepometer is for you. Featuring a minimal design complete with a digital clock, this pedometer is a great way to track whether you are doing the government recommended 10,000 steps a day.

If you prefer to use an app on your phone, then most wrist-worn exercise trackers have built-in pedometers that monitor the steps you take throughout your day. The step tracker tends to show you when you were most active, the times in which you were active and how many total steps you have taken. You can also set step goals to keep you on track and some trackers can also alert you when you have been inactive and need to get moving.

Sleep tracking

Monitoring your sleep with a fitness watch can help you determine your sleep pattern and whether you are getting the exact amount of sleep you need. On average adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, but many of us do not get enough sleep.

This is where a fitness tracker such as the Misfit bands, steps in, being able to see your sleep pattern in an app will tell you how much sleep you are getting each night, and what the optimal length is for you. From this you can look back on behaviour in the day to see what may have disrupted your sleep, for example having a coffee after dinner could be the reason you are struggling to sleep.

Stress management

Did you know a Fitbit smartwatch can help you manage and understand stress? The Fitbit Sense helps you to adjust your activity, improve sleep and practice mindfulness to help you manage your stress and wellbeing. Check your daily stress management score to see, how any changes you made to your sleep or exercise, are working. You can also add how you’re feeling each day to give you a holistic approach managing your stress.

Track health metrics

Many fitness trackers feature in-app benefits, that can help you take a bigger look at your health, from skin temperature to trend analysis, they’ve got it all. A Fitbit smart tracker and app are no exception. They allow you to easily see your stats in one place, which can include oxygen saturation, breathing rate, heart rate and more, so you can learn about your fitness levels.

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Heart rate monitor

Monitoring your heart rate via your fitness band is a great way to see how intense your work outs are, as well as how long it takes your body to recover afterwards. The acme trackers have a built-in heart rate monitor which tracks when you’re exercising and entering fat burning zones. So you can get the best out of your time at the gym or meet a personal best on your next run.

If you already have an Acme fitness tracker, but are unsure of how to set it up, we can give you a helping hand with this guide

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How do fitness trackers work

Fitness trackers work by using information manually inputted by the user about their height, weight and gender and cross referencing this with data received during activity, such as heart rate and body movements.

Traditional step counters use pedometers to count daily steps by using body motion and footsteps. These are not as accurate as accelerometers which are now used by all modern smart devices and which also take into consideration your speed and distance. Most accelerometer based fitness wearables can estimate the type of movement, energy expenditure, steps and intensity of your activity by using internal sensors that respond to your body heat and movement.

How accurate are fitness trackers?

The accuracy of fitness trackers has been under debate since they first appeared on the fitness scene. Stories about people being able to trick their fitness watch into thinking that they’re walking when in fact they are simply moving their arms are commonplace. However, as the technology behind activity trackers improves so do their levels of accuracy when monitoring your heart rate, steps and sleep.

Which hand do I wear my fitness tracker on?

Like a watch, you should wear your fitness tracker on your non-dominant hand, for example if you are right-handed you should wear the band on your left wrist. This will help your activity tracker to be more accurate and prevent any false steps from being recorded.

Can a fitness tracker help me lose weight?

Yes, however to help you reach your weight loss goals an activity tracker needs to be paired with a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise. A fitness tracker can help you to monitor your activity levels, allowing you to increase them and burn more calories than you are consuming. Find out more about weight loss and what steps you can take to change your lifestyle here

Can a health watch track your sleep?

Yes, depending on their features, different models of exercise watches can track your sleep. They’re also able to show you how much light, deep and REM sleep you have had as well as how many times you have woken in the night.

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