Tracking your fitness: How to decipher digital devices

With the plethora of health and fitness trackers on the market, KPMG Performance Coach Andrew May has some great advice for those considering a purchase.

The wearable devices market is booming business, growing at around 16 per cent each year, with an expected 310 million devices to be sold this year. This massive growth is being driven by an increase in sales of premium watches like Apple Watch and Sony SmartWatch.

“It’s a massive, massive industry and there are so many products all promising to help you get fit, lose weight, manage stress and be in the best shape of your life,” Andrew says.

“Wearable technology is based on quantifiable self-movement which is measuring data on everything from heart rate to daily steps; to respiration to sleep time to fatigue; and changes in blood profile, insulin, ketones, cognitive function and more.”

New research however also talks of ‘fitness tracker fatigue’ and how one-third of all wearable devices are abandoned after the first six months of use.

So how can you ensure the device you choose is going to earn its keep?

Andrew says there are a number of factors to consider before making a purchase:

  • Get clear on exactly what it is you want to achieve and what your goal is.
  • Do you want to lose weight or increase fitness? Are you training for an ocean swim or a half marathon? Or do you need to focus on recovery more and manage your stress levels?

“Once you’ve thought through these factors you’ll have a clearer idea of the best device for you, otherwise you’re merely guessing,” he says.

“One other tip I have is to weigh up fit bit versus fit friend – is a device alone going to encourage you to do a half marathon or an ocean swim?

“The magic formula to staying fit and being healthy requires you to exercise regularly and keep the intensity up. If you find a fitness tracker works for you, that’s great. But I find the extra accountability from a training partner keeps me on track far more than numbers on a screen.”

Andrew says training buddies also push us to bump up the intensity and provide social interaction, distracting from the pain of high-intensity intervals and repetitions.

“While wearable devices might help to positively shape behaviour for some people, I think a blend between wearables and having a fitness friend is the best recipe,” he concludes.

Catch up on the full episode of The House of Wellness TV show to see more from Jo, Ed, and the team.