How fitness trackers work for me (when I actually wear them)

I've tried a fitbit and an apple watch and I've tried months at a time with both. My fitness habits have gone up and down over the years since leaving university. I received a fair amount of cynicism from onlookers but my positive results appeared so quickly that I really stopped caring about all that. This is what I found, in summary: 

When you should be considering a fitness tracker

  • If you have a job that involves sitting down at a desk all day but with the freedom to get up and move around for a break when you need it

  • If you're recently retired

  • If you've switched to a freelance role from home

  • Or, if you want to lose weight or get fit but feel demotivated when you can't see immediate change.

What does it really help you achieve?

  • Both trackers mentioned will give you a 'nudge', reminding you to stand up and walk around to get your blood flowing. This is something that people don't realise they need help with until there's a device on their wrist telling them to stand up once an hour. You'd be amazed how easy it is for hours to fly by without moving from your screen. 
  • There's a lot of supporting technology in the form of mobile and web apps that allow you to compare performance in your exercise as it improves. That includes taking an hourly, hilly walk before your lunch each day. It doesn't have to be a sweaty gym session to provide insight and demonstrate progress. 
  • You can set goals focused around losing weight and calorie intake vs calorie burn, if that's why you're considering a fitness tracker. I tried this earlier this year and found that it helped plan my daily calorie and exercise goals in order to achieve my goal weight by a specific date, which happened to be my holiday in May. Using it this way helps you to stay controlled and not yo-yo so much.

How to get the most out of a fitness tracker, specifically a Fitbit or Apple Watch

  • You need to be on top of your charging habits. The worst thing ever is ruining your tracking streak when your tracker is out of juice. 

  • Plan a 'route' for your hourly reminders because it's easier to talk yourself out of getting up and getting on with it if you have to spend time thinking about where to walk around for two minutes. I used a stairwell when I lived in an apartment block but it would work just as well in an office.

  • Always keep trainers nearby (unless you already wear them, obviously). Again, it's just another thing you'd have to think about. 

  • Set targets low - to start with - and ease them up as you go.