Get an activity tracker

Overweight, out of breath, sluggish? Get an activity tracker from Fitbit, Apple, or Garmin

Using a fitness tracker outdoors
Using a fitness tracker outdoors

An activity tracker is on your wrist and visible throughout the day. It reminds you everyday of your activity level and helps you reach basic fitness goals.

For those with office jobs, or who are working from home, it can be an eye opener on the lack of activity. A person working at home can in theory wake up, shower, have breakfast, work, have dinner and go back to sleep with less than 40meters walked. Compare to the usually recommended daily 10,000 steps!

You can compete against yourself and try to reach the daily 10,000 steps by walking to the office. You can also compare with friends. Most activity trackers have leaderboards and entice you to compete on who has the most weekly steps. It’s not unheard of to walk late in the night or on a Sunday just to be finish in the leaderboard.

An activity tracker doesn’t need to have GPS, heart rate monitoring, notifications or smart apps. It just needs to measure steps, sleep, as well as occasional activities such as running.

Later, you can upgrade to a sports watch with more features if you decide to be more active.

Recommendations:

  • Fitbit Charge 2 ($150 on Amazon) or Fitbit Alta. Both have screens to quickly check activity levels. Fitbits have relatively mature software. The batteries last much more than Apple Watch or an Android Wear. Fitbits are also popular and easy to re-sell.
  • Fashion alternative: an Apple Watch is more expensive but good for those who already have an iPhone. Read the review.
  • Running alternative: The new Polar M200 is affordable ($150) and has GPS and an optical heart monitor. Polar makes reliable heart monitors and the product gives you access you to online training plans and an encouraging community.

References:

  • Meyer, J. and Hein, A. 2013. Live Long and Prosper: Potentials of Low-Cost Consumer Devices for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases. Medicine 2.0
  • Feehan, L., Clayton, C., Carruthers, E. and Li, L.. 2014. Feasibility of Using Fitbit Flex to Motivate People with Rheumatoid Arthritis to BE Physically Active. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
  • Washington, W.D., Banna, K.M. and Gibson, A.L. 2014. Preliminary efficacy of prize-based contingency management to increase activity levels in healthy adults. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Finkelstein, E.A., Haaland, B.A., Bilger, M., Sahasranaman, A., Sloan, R.A., Nang, E.E.K. and Evenson, K.R.. 2016. Effectiveness of activity trackers with and without incentives to increase physical activity (TRIPPA): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology
  • Glance, D.G., Ooi, E., Berman, Y., Glance, C.F. and Barrett, H.R.. 2016. Impact of a Digital Activity Tracker-Based Workplace Activity Program on Health and Wellbeing. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Digital Health Conference

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