How to Make Those Steps Count: Activity Tracking 101

Fitness Trackers

As the public becomes more concerned with health, wellness, and reducing the time they sit, companies like Fitbit are capitalizing on this “quantified self.” Activity tracking devices are everywhere you turn. According to a recent investigation by Canalys, over 7 million devices were sold in the first quarter of 2015. What started as a fad has now become a lifestyle change – people want to know how much they move (and sit)!

So – with all those devices out there, how should you go about choosing one that will meet your needs? It can be overwhelming looking at all the functions and features, so it’s best to take time to investigate what works best for your personal needs. There’s no sense in buying a device with a heart rate monitor if you have no plans to use it!

1. Like notifications? Reviews indicate the Garmin Vivosmart HR should be your choice. This wrist-based device from the GPS-giant boasts accurate steps and sleep, resting heart rate and notifications all wrapped up into a comprehensive, but complex, app on your smartphone.

2. Want to keep it simple? Consider the Jawbone UP2. It lacks an external display, but it looks stylish, is budget-friendly, and still has step tracking, sleep monitoring, and a smart alarm.

3. Need it to be accurate? Misfit Shine 2 was compared to a running watch with GPS and only differed by 0.1 km. It’s also waterproof, has a better battery life, counts steps and sleep, and gives smartphone notifications.

4. Love to run? The Microsoft Band 2 was redesigned and the results favor those that pound the pavement at a quick pace. It has accurate run tracking, steps, sleep, GPS sports tracking, 24/7 heart rate, golf, and smartphone notifications.

5. Play a lot of sports? Garmin comes up aces again with the Vivoactive, a daily sports watch that combines fitness and sports features, along with reliable notifications. The Vivoactive uses GPS to accurately track running, cycling and swimming with live pace and distances, while also tracking your daily steps and pushing inactivity notifications throughout your day.

According to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the validity of available trackers varies greatly. Most accelerometers have an error rate between 10% and 15%. As the error rate decreases, the quality of the monitor increases. Even though the error rate seems small, it can lead to weight loss or weight gain due to overestimates or underestimates of caloric expenditure.

Regardless of which fitness tracker you choose or your personal goals, using an activity monitor is a great way to motivate yourself to be more active during the day. The important part is researching the benefits and limitations of the device before you get started. Knowledge is power, but first we must know what data we need to improve upon! For more information and unbiased fitness technology reviews, check out DC Rainmaker’s blog. He posts all the latest device reviews weekly and lets you know what passes his rigorous testing protocol.

Dan Gaz

Dan’s healthy lifestyle passion began as an undergraduate at Indiana University, where he competed on a successful Little 500 cycling team and earned both a BSc and MSc in the School’s Kinesiology program. His concentrations were exercise science and applied sport science. Dan is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the ACSM, a Level 1 TRX Instructor, a Level 3 USA Cycling coach, and a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach.

Dan Gaz

About Dan Gaz

Dan’s healthy lifestyle passion began as an undergraduate at Indiana University, where he competed on a successful Little 500 cycling team and earned both a BSc and MSc in the School’s Kinesiology program. His concentrations were exercise science and applied sport science. Dan is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the ACSM, a Level 1 TRX Instructor, a Level 3 USA Cycling coach, and a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach.

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