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Fitness Trackers at Work

I would like to make a confession. I, a licensed Athletic Trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist, have a hard time staying motivated and making it to the gym. My problem is not that I don’t know what to do (as pointed out by my credentials) but actually finding the time or drive. It wasn’t until I watched a TEDtalk that I realized my perception was skewed. The truth, I discovered, is that good health and fitness can be achieved throughout my day. I could get cardio from walking my dog around the neighborhood. Or, I could improve my muscular endurance when I’m carrying my groceries in or lifting my laundry up and down the stairs. I began to examine my daily activities. I realized that my health and fitness is not solely dependent on the time I spent at the gym. In actuality, it is the accumulation of my day and the healthy habits I create. So, being the goal oriented person that I am, I’ve decided to look for a way to track exactly how much activity I experience throughout my day. How could I continue to up my activity if I can’t track it or create an accurate benchmark?

fitbit-liteWith a simple Google search, I discovered the newest bit of exercise technology that would help me with this question. This new technology falls under a category of devices called activity trackers. What are activity trackers you ask? Why, I’ll tell you. Activity trackers are devices that monitor an individual’s steps, exercise levels, calories, and sleep patterns. PERFECT right? It gets better. These trackers also allow for individual goal setting, group goal setting, and competition among friends, family, coworkers and even strangers. I could not have found anything better. Now I can use objective data to accurately determine how active I am and where I can improve or push myself.

For those who are not as health savvy as I, you may be asking yourself why tracking my daily activity would matter so much. The fact is that due to the lifestyle of the average American, many of us spend hours on end sitting. This is a problem because recent studies have indicated that lengthy amounts of time sitting can increase one’s risk of chronic disease and mortality. These chronic diseases include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression and osteoporosis. Therefore, if I were able to track how many steps I was taking throughout the day or even be reminded to get up and move when I am sitting at my computer working, then I would be helping myself to avoid an increase in my risk of chronic disease and mortality.

If health isn’t enough of a reason to use an activity tracker then take a look at the dollar signs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the chronic diseases (like the ones caused by lengthy amounts of time sitting) make up 86% of the health care dollars spent. That statistic is staggering to me. I don’t know about you but I would rather put my hard earned dollars toward a new TV or a nice dinner with my special someone.

If I’ve convinced you to take the dive and get an activity tracker then there are several places for you go. You could run over to the local Best Buy, Target or Walmart. If you are someone who doesn’t have time to stop at the store then you could order one at the individual manufacturer’s website. Or, if you’re like my father and love a good deal then you could snoop around amazon and ebay for the best price. When it comes to activity trackers, the major players are Fitbit, Basis, Jawbone, Misfit and Garmin. My suggestion would be to play with or review the different kinds and check their compatibility with the technology you have at home or on your smartphone.  The key to your success is choosing the option that is right for you.  I wish you luck on your journey. If you decide to get a Fitbit, look me up and let the challenges begin!

Michael Liuzza
Strategy Director at BIOKINETX
Michael brings 17 years experience to BIOKINETIX in medical and healthcare content development.

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