5 Awesome Features of Fitness Trackers

Bet you didn’t know a fitness tracker could do this.

You’ve seen them tucked under the cuffs of coworkers in business meetings. You’ve seen people at the gym fiddling with them on their smartphones. Fitness-tracking devices and smartphone apps are more popular than ever. But until recently, you’ve never really thought about owning one yourself. Now that you want to start getting active — or achieve a new fitness goal — it might be time to consider what a fitness tracker could do for you.

Are You Tracking?

Fitness trackers such as fitbit and Jawbone tell you how long you’ve worked out, how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned. What you may not know is that these devices and apps offer plenty of additional capabilities, depending on the type and model. Here are just a few things you can do with a fitness tracker:

  1. Sync it up with other health apps.

“I have my fitbit connected to a food-tracking app on my smartphone,” says Crystal Allan, fitness specialist at Texas Health Fitness Center HEB. “That way, it’s much easier to keep an eye on how many calories I’m consuming versus how many I’m burning.”

  1. Remember your jogging routes.

Running-specific trackers, such as the RunKeeper and MapMyRun apps, tell you how far you’ve run and save your jogging routes for future reference. This way, you can follow previous routes to meet specific distances, which comes in handy if you’re training for a race.

  1. Make the most of your competitive streak.

Some fitness trackers allow you to create activity challenges, such as running five miles under a certain time or taking the most steps in one day. You can then invite other users to participate in the challenge.

“Turning fitness into a competitive game helps keep exercise more fun and interesting,” Allan says. “It also helps you stay accountable to the exercise partner who’s doing it with you.”

  1. Get personalized coaching.

Top-of-the-line wearable devices — including the Microsoft Band and Basis Peak — provide automated coaching and feedback tailored to your health goals and activity history. They also offer expert-developed workouts based on your particular fitness level and goals.

  1. Track your sleep habits.

Newer, high-end fitness trackers can now monitor your sleep quantity and quality. By combining fitness and sleep tracking into one app, you can get a better sense of how your sleep patterns could be impacting your workouts.

Back to Basics

While these advanced features are alluring, Allan says basic functionalities are often the most helpful.

“People I work with primarily use fitness trackers to measure their overall progress and give themselves a more realistic view of their activity levels,” Allan says. “You might be surprised at the actual number of steps you’re taking and calories you’re burning.”

Like fitness trackers but need a more human touch? Visit a Texas Health Fitness Center and get one-on-one access to a fitness specialist.

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