Good fitness bands and smartwatches aren’t cheap, and many require paid subscriptions to use their best features. To make your investment worth it, staying motivated and taking full advantage of the data these devices gather are key. Here’s how to do that.
Set Reasonable Fitness Goals
Fitness apps and wearables like the Apple Watch usually let you choose your goals for steps, exercise time, or overall activity level, and you should always start small if you want to stay motivated to use your fitness tracker. Don’t fall into thinking big goals result in big achievements. The “failure as a teacher” logic might tell you that face-planting in your efforts to meet your goal will only motivate you to push yourself to your limits. Maybe it works in cases, but it’s not sustainable.
Imagine hitting your goal for the day and still having the energy to do it again. Now imagine seeing you’re still halfway to your goal and already feel exhausted. In which scenario do you feel motivated to go further and keep doing it day after day, and which makes you feel like giving up? Don’t let your ambition be your downfall. Give yourself a win by setting goals you know you can attain, then increase them over time as you make progress.
I wear the Amazon Halo View, and it came with weekly activity goals set by default that are meant to get you to the minimum for a healthy heart. I didn’t get upset with myself when I didn’t achieve those, though, and as my strength has improved, I’m upping the weekly goals in small increments.
Sync Health Data Across Apps
Do you have other apps like Weight Watchers or wearables like the Meta Quest 2 that you also use to track your health and fitness? Data about your health is useless without context; you don’t really need an app to tell you when you didn’t sleep well, after all. That’s why you should be combining the data recorded by your wearables and apps. For example, an app you use to track your meals can give you real insight into why your sleep score was so bad last night.
Your smartphone has built-in features that make this easier. Data syncing is just one of the iPhone Health app’s many features, and Android users have the Health Connect app for Android (still in beta at the time of writing).
RELATED: How to Track Your Steps With Just an iPhone or Android Phone
Don’t Go It Alone
As you may already know, the people around you can be great motivators who inspire you to keep up with your fitness routine. App developers know this, which is why many workout apps have social features that let you share your achievements and compete with friends (or even strangers) in reaching fitness goals. Strava is famous for this (though in some ways infamous as well), and we’ve recommended Samsung Health in part because of its fun social features.
Get a Custom Band
This tip may seem superfluous, but you’d be surprised how motivating a flashy new strap on your fitness wearable can be, especially if you’ve always worn the standard-issue strap that came in the box. You’ll be a lot excited to consistently wear (and use) a band that matches your aesthetic and interests or that color coordinates with your outfit. Plus, a spare strap will save you in a pinch if you ever break yours.
Even if your tracker’s manufacturer has limited options, Amazon is usually awash with third-party sellers hawking additional styles and types. Etsy is also a good place to look, with many unique styles designed with the niche and nerdy in mind. Just be sure to read reviews measuring comfort and durability since the band is something you’ll be wearing often, if not 24/7.
Earn Health Rewards With Your Insurance Provider
Many health and life insurance providers offer rewards programs with their policies that let you sync data from your fitness tracker to accrue rewards points. Potentially you’ll be able to turn your sweat into savings or cash.
That said, all fitness tracker brands don’t have partnerships with every insurance company. For example, the Amazon Halo app I use can, at the time of writing, sync health data only with John Hancock’s Vitality program and Humana’s Go365. You’ll have to research which provider your band can sync with, especially if you’re considering buying or upgrading a tracker. Some providers offer discounts on fitness trackers, too, so you should also peek at your insurance company’s website.
Of course, this kind of program is a two-edged sword: while your provider might reward you for positive behavior, it similarly could use any data that seems negative as an excuse to raise your premiums.
Also, by sharing your health data with yet another company, you’re adding to the already substantial risk to your privacy fitness trackers themselves bring; data breaches at major corporations are common. and abuse of data by employees is another concern. The decision to participate in a health rewards program is up to you, but don’t take it lightly.
Don’t Take It Too Seriously
Despite their many benefits, fitness trackers can easily start affecting you negatively. A fixation on getting the best sleep, for example, can bring on orthosomnia, itself a type of sleep disorder. If you’re using social fitness apps to judge yourself and fixate on your perceived shortcomings, you’re missing out on the fun and entirely missing the point.
It goes back to setting realistic goals: if your fitness tracker is making you feel bad, it’s time to rethink the goals you set. It may even be time to take a break from wearing your smartwatch or fitness band at all. A little band or watch on your wrist can’t make you healthy unless your perspective is healthy.
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