I’ve heard people call fitness bands just fancy pedometers, but I think that doesn’t give them enough credit for what they do. To be fair, some of them really only serve that purpose because the rest of the upgraded features don’t work all that well, but a lot of fitness bands have way more going for them then that.
Fitness trackers give you the pedometer function, but they sync with an App and/or Internet-based program so you have all of that information stored in the cloud. You can get comprehensive data on the amount of movement that you’ve had, and if you feel that you need all of the information to successfully train than it’s all there.
Possibly more important, the fitness trackers keep track of way more than just what you’re actively doing. They watch what you’re NOT doing, and most of them will alert you if you’ve been sedentary for too long. There’s no excuse for “forgetting” to get your movement in for the day when there is literally a band on your wrist that is basically yelling at you to get up and get physical.
You can set goals with pedometers alone, but no one is going to hold you to them. The monitors have a couple of good ways to hold you accountable, which is a big deal. First, some of them have lights on the band that light up when you’ve accomplished a piece of your goal. For instance, the Fitbit Flex we reviewed has 5 tiny LEDS on the device. When you’ve hit 2,000 steps for the day or burn 200 calories, or however you chose to track, another one lights up.
If you get most of the way through your day and there is barely even one light shining, you know you’re behind and you have to find a better way to do things in the future.
Beyond that, those goals that you set for yourself (or, in some cases, that the device sets for you) are kept on comprehensive software that will analyze what you’re doing and point out what you could be doing better. You can share it with other people on the site, which will also keep you accountable, and use the software to adjust things that didn’t get picked up by your monitor throughout the day.
Run Fitness Features
For runners and people who exercise outside, there are even some tracking bands that have GPS built right into the watch-like device. Not only can you take control by getting out there and hitting the pavement, but you can make decisions about where you’re going while the device keeps track of where you went. No excuse for getting lost, and no excuse for not using every resource that you have.
Watch Your Heart, Yo
Some fitness trackers even hook up to the same quality heart rate monitors that can be used independently, and they can give you an accurate read on how your body is reacting to your workout as well as an accurate read on how many calories you’re burning.
Fitness bands that use the chest device are literally using the same technology that can be found in expensive heart rate monitors. When they monitor heart rate that way, the read is accurate.
There’s a [Really Helpful] App For That
When you truly understand the capabilities of the software, you will also understand that there is a lot that will help you.
Some of the programs just take the movement information as stored by the band and sync it to the program. Others give you a whole suite of capabilities including reporting milestones, congratulating you when you meet them, giving you “merit badges” for getting there, allowing you take track calorie intake as much as calories burned, and more. The picture that results is an actual idea of what you’re doing with your body each day, and what you need to fix.
The calories burned and calorie intake is an important part of the picture, but it shows you not only if you’re overdoing it with what your eating, but in many cases it will also let you know if you’re not losing weight because you’re under-doing it. Most people don’t realize that you have to have to get the right amount of calories and not the least amount of calories that they can get.
Take The Data And Make It Look Pretty
Once all of the information up to that point has been recorded, you can see it all on fancy charts and graphs that literally break down every minute of your day and explain what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. It’s all right in front of you on a computer screen or on the app that the band syncs with.
Now Do What You Will
This information isn’t designed to show you that you should get a fitness tracker rather than a basic pedometer. There are a lot of people who don’t need all of the extra functionality.
You should, however, have a thorough understanding of the difference between a pedometer and a fitness band so that you know that you are paying for the difference in the technologies. That doesn’t mean that a fitness band is right for you, but it also doesn’t mean that the pedometer is right for you just because it falls on the low end of the cost spectrum. A tracking device is going to give you way more functionality and much more information than a pedometer. If you need the details, you can have them. If you don’t, then simple is better.