Fitbit, Garmin, Polar, Apple watches, or the cheap £20 amazon fitness tracker I use. Fitness watches are everywhere! The big question is do we need one? And if so what for!?
Let’s talk training first.
We use training to create a stimulus that makes the body react and adapt in a certain way. We lift weights if we want to build certain muscles or make them stronger. We do cardio training if we want to improve our aerobic fitness. We go rugby training if we want to get better at rugby… Now a fitness tracker isn’t designed to improve your ability to do any of those things, and it won’t, so for your performance goals its probably not worth your money.
They do however track some aspects of training, the main 3 being your distance travelled, heart rate and calories burned in a session.
Distance: running? Cycling? Great! In the gym? Not so great.
Heart rate: unless your watch comes with a heart rate monitor that goes around your chest and links to your watch, don’t bother as it won’t be an accurate reading.
Calories burned: Again, not very accurate. The number of ‘calories burned’ in a one-off gym session is pretty irrelevant and definitely doesn’t warrant you going and eating half the sweets isle because your watch told you that you burned 1000 calories. That being said, you could use it to loosely compare the number of calories burned from one session to another, but that’s probably nothing your body can’t already tell you from how hard it was.
So, in terms of aiding your training, unless you’re a runner or have a heart rate monitor to go with your watch they are pretty pointless…
What about weight loss?
This is where fitness trackers can be of more use… and when I say fitness tracker, I mean something to count your steps 24 hours a day (hence my £20 amazon watch being sufficient).
In the weight loss game: you want to address how many calories you eat and how many calories you burn. Weight loss occurs when you burn more than you eat.
Besides from your BMR (staying alive), something called your NEAT is the biggest calorie burner… yes burning even more calories than exercise.
NEAT is basically all the activity you do that’s not exercise, walking to work, going up and down the stairs, tidying the house, dancing in your living room… and an activity tracker IS USEFUL in tracking your NEAT. It will give you a step count, that is a reflection of how much you move daily.
This is a useful number to know in the weight loss game. The higher that number, the more calories you are going to be burning day to day, and the more chance you give yourself of tipping the scales in your favour and losing weight.
So although these watches come with all kind of crazy features, in terms of changing your body composition, the simple step count is going to be of most use.
We try and get all of our clients hitting 10k steps a day as a MINIMUM.