More than half of all Americans (51 percent) report using a fitness tracker on a daily basis.
From apps that help them monitor the number of calories they’re consuming to watches that tell them how many calories they’re burning, there are tons of different tracking tools and devices that people can use to stay focused and make sure they’re continuing to work toward their unique health and fitness goals.
Do you currently use some kind of fitness tracker? Do you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it? If so, be sure to keep these 10 tips in mind.
1. Personalize Your Profile
Regardless of the specific type of fitness tracker you’re using, it likely comes with an option for you to set up a profile when you register the device or download the app.
When you’re setting up your profile, be sure to personalize it with your specific information. It might be tempting to just skip through the set-up steps or work with pre-set information so you can start tracking sooner. It’s worth it to take the time and do this part correctly, though.
The more personalized your profile is, the more accurate and relevant the information that you get from your fitness tracker is likely to be. After all, if you’re a six-foot tall man, you don’t want to be following nutrition advice for a five-foot-six woman, do you?
2. Wear Wearables on Your Non-Dominant Hand
If your fitness tracker of choice is a wearable like a FitBit or Apple Watch, be sure to wear it on your non-dominant hand.
If you wear these devices on your dominant hand, you might end up thinking that you’re taking more steps and burning more calories than you actually are. This is because you likely use your dominant hand more often during the day.
Wearing it on your non-dominant hand will give you a more accurate reading at the end of the day and will help you avoid overeating because you think you burned more calories than you really did.
Wearing these devices on your non-dominant hand also prevents them from getting in your way as you’re going about your day. If you want to wear your device on a regular basis, it’s best if you can set it and forget it.
3. Link All Your Apps
These days, lots of wearable fitness trackers have their own app that accompanies them. Be sure to utilize this app so you can enjoy all the functions your tracker has to offer. For example, the app might make it easier for you to set specific goals for yourself or personalize your device to meet your specific needs.
Don’t forget that, in most cases, you can also link all of your fitness tracking apps together.
For example, you might be able to link your step counting app with your calorie tracking app. By doing this, you can get a more accurate representation of how many calories you’ve burned throughout the day. This, in turn, can help you make sure you’re not eating too few calories to support your activity levels.
4. Be Consistent
There’s a lot of talk out there about the “best” fitness tracker that you should be using. The truth, though, is that the best fitness tracker is the one that you’re able to use on a consistent basis.
Maybe you’re the type who doesn’t like to wear a watch or always forgets to put it on. If this is the case for you, a wearable fitness tracker probably isn’t your best option. You might be better off sticking to an app on your phone.
No matter what kind of tracker you’re using, the key is to be consistent with it. If you’re logging your food in an app, log your food every day. If you’re wearing a wearable device, wear it every day.
You’re not going to see great results if you only use these devices in a sporadic way. Remember, the purpose of them is to help you learn patterns and establish new and healthy habits.
5. Be Honest
It’s important to be honest with yourself when you’re using a fitness tracker. This is especially true when it comes to calorie counting apps.
It’s easy to fudge the numbers and convince yourself that you’re eating less than you are. Or, you might legitimately think you’re eating a small amount when you really aren’t.
Make sure you’re being honest with your tracking so that you can get more accurate results.
For many people, this means weighing and measuring their food for a period of time. After a while, you’ll likely get to a point where you can estimate with relative accuracy how much you’re eating.
At first, though, using a food scale and/or measuring cups and spoons can help you to get a clearer picture of your serving sizes and how many calories your meals truly contain.
6. Keep it Charged/Updated
For those who use wearable fitness trackers, make sure you keep them charged. Your step counter or smart watch doesn’t do you any good if the battery is always dead. Try to make a habit of charging your device every night or every few days depending on its battery life.
As for fitness tracking apps, be sure to update them on a regular basis. This will help you enjoy the latest features and avoid bugs that could give you inaccurate results. This can also help you avoid losing data, which can happen sometimes if you go too long without making necessary updates.
7. Use it to Connect with Friends and Family
Many fitness tracking apps and devices allow you to connect with other users. The social aspect of fitness trackers can be very motivating for a lot of people, especially when they use them to compete with friends or family members.
Use the social function of your calorie tracking app to help you stay accountable or to get ideas for new meals from other people in your life who are also using the app.
You can also set up step competitions between yourself and your friends, family members, or co-workers using your wearable device or step-counting app.
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to help you keep your eyes on the prize and maintain your motivation even when you’re struggling to stay on track with your goals.
8. Set Realistic Goals
One of the many great things about fitness trackers is that they make it easy for you to set specific health and fitness goals for yourself.
For example, instead of setting a vague goal like, “I want to exercise more,” you can use your fitness tracker to get specific and say something like, “I want to walk 8,000 steps every day.”
When you’re setting goals using your fitness tracker, make sure those goals are realistic.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by promising that you’re going to walk 8,000 steps per day when you know that you currently only average three or four thousand. Instead, aim for 5,000 steps per day to start out. Then, over time, you can work on slowly increasing to a higher number.
9. Reward Yourself
Once you reach your goals, make sure you find a way to reward yourself.
Fitness tracking apps and devices will often give you a little shout-out when you reach a milestone or accomplish a new goal. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little extra celebrating, though.
There are lots of ways that you can celebrate your accomplishments. Plan a night out with your friends, treat yourself to a new piece of workout clothing, or enjoy a relaxing evening in.
If possible, try not to make your reward something that will sabotage your goals. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not ideal to reward yourself with junk food, is it?
10. Don’t Live and Die By It
Finally, remember that, at the end of the day, fitness trackers are just tools.
They can be very helpful when you’re trying to reach a specific fitness goal or when you first start taking your health more seriously. They’re not the end-all-be-all, though.
Your worth should not be tied to the number of steps you take in a day or the number of calories you consume. Keep in mind, too, that these numbers are just estimates. They might be very accurate estimates, but they’re estimates nonetheless.
There’s nothing wrong with using fitness trackers on a regular basis as a reminder to get active and eat healthy food. Don’t let yourself become too reliant on them, though.
Try These Fitness Tracking Tips Today
Whether your fitness tracker of choice is an app or a wearable device, these fitness tracking tips will help you get the most out of it and stay on track as you work toward reaching your health goals.
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the fitness tracking world or if you’ve been tracking for a long time. Either way, you can benefit from keep these tips in mind. Start implementing them today!
The Next Step:
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