How to Use a Fitness Tracker to Help You Get in Shape

Wearables are changing the way we live. From the soft buzz of a vibrating alarm to the jog around the park, a fitness tracker can be a valuable ally in your quest for better health and wellness. When paired with a smartphone and app (for nutrition and exercise tracking), these devices become personal trainers to help you monitor and exceed your goals. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks on how to use a fitness tracker to help you get in shape for summer!

Choose a Fitness Tracker that Works for You

If you’ve been sitting on the fence for a while, make the leap! Even the best fitness trackers have come down in price over the last five years, with plenty of smartwatches and dedicated GPS devices around to keep them company. Make sure you’re getting a fitness tracker that meets your needs. You want to make sure that the device will pair with your phone and collect the data you need to meet your goals. Simple models to count steps and calories can be an affordable starter option, or expensive heart rate monitors with GPS tracking and phone notifications can take the place of a full-featured Smart Watch – or you can choose one that is designed for fitness tracking!

Find a Fitness Tracking App

Companion apps turn fitness trackers into full-fledged personal trainers. Getting in shape takes dedication, but it’s achieved by small wins every day. Apps can help you track your progress — one of the main predictors of success for any weight loss or fitness program. Everyone likes to see success, and a companion app can help you measure your achievements. Calculate differences in steps per day, sleep at night, calories consumed, exercise completed, and distances traveled. You’ll be proud of yourself when you reach your goals, and you’ll have a place to keep your journey recorded along the way.

Set Measurable Fitness Goals

The key with any large change is the “compound effect”. Just like millionaires don’t necessarily get rich overnight, getting in shape takes the compound effect of small wins over time. Create a large, overall goal with a roadmap to get there. If you have a personal trainer and dietician, work with them to create a holistic plan for your exercise and diet. If you don’t have those resources, there are plenty online to work with. Break your large overall goal into smaller milestones that you can aim for every month, every week, and every day. Take time at the end of the week to reflect upon your progress and analyze your fitness data to see where you can improve.

Get Enough Sleep

When most of us are trying to cram exercise and events into our hectic schedules, sleep usually falls by the wayside. It’s unfortunate, because sleep is actually miraculous for fitness and health! It gives your body and mind a chance to repair damage; and if you’ve incorporated any forms of strenuous exercise into your plan, you’ll need plenty of rest to recover. Fitness trackers are usually small enough to wear while you sleep, which helps you measure your sleep length and quality before waking up to a soft, vibrating alarm.

Eat Healthy and Count Calories

Ultimately, weight loss is a numbers game. Wraps, cleanses, and diet pills are tempting, but a caloric deficit is the only proven (healthy) way to lose weight quickly. This is actually good news, because exercise is the time consuming, more challenging half, and diet is easier to control. A top down approach could include meal planning and preparation with a protein rich diet where every calorie and macronutrient (fat, protein, or carbohydrate) is accounted for. But a bottom up approach can be just as effective by creating rules to eliminate soda, snacking, or unhealthy fried foods. There are about 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, and about 150 in a can of soda. If you cut out two sodas a day, you’re already looking at losing an extra pound every 11 days! Depending upon your personal weight loss goals, you may want to invest in a fitness tracker that monitors calories burned, as well as a food scale for measuring portions.

Engage in Activities You Enjoy

One of the most important aspects of any fitness program is the ability to stick with it. And if it’s not fun, it’s going to be challenging. Some people love the relaxing pace and quiet of endurance running. Others might enjoy high intensity sprints in an Olympic pool. I actually love surfing, yoga, and cycling. If you can find activities that you love to do, fitness tracking and getting in shape will come naturally!

Share Your Fitness Goals and Achievements

Make your journey a social one — and bring your friends along for the ride! You might be surprised to find your friends or family members have been wanting to get into better shape, and having someone to help keep you accountable when it’s cold or rainy outside can really help you commit to your exercise regimen. You’ll also benefit from the shared successes, wisdom, and knowledge of the other person, and it’s one of the best ways to make a friend for life! Many fitness trackers and apps make sharing on social media super simple.

If you’re feeling motivated, check out some of the best fitness trackers to help you get in shape for the summer!

Andrew Nelsen, TopProducts Staff Writer