Make the Most of Your Fitness Gadgets and Apps

Want to make the most of your wearable fitness tech? Here we’ve collected some of the most effective ways to do just that.

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Once upon a time, performance tracking using hi-tech gadgets was something that professional athletes did in the never-ending quest to, say, shave off a couple of extra tenths of a second from their lap speeds. Today, of course, we have a wealth of off-the-shelf gadgets and software that can track just about anything that can be tracked while we exercise and then present all the data for us to pore over. Heck, you don’t even have to buy a fitness tracker: Simply slap on one of those armbands with a pouch for your smartphone and you have a performance evaluator that athletes from a couple of decades ago could only dream of.

Despite the ubiquity of dedicated fitness trackers and GPS-enabled running watches along the ever-increasing ability of other gadgets to track exercise performance, there’s an art to making the most of these tools. Of course, this doesn’t mean that exercising will be less strenuous, but we can call on the advances of tech to help us better finetune our exercise programs and stay motivated.

Know Your Tools
Like most gadgets nowadays, fitness trackers are designed to be intuitive to use. More often than not, they’re ready to be worn right out of the box. That being said, it really pays to learn more about your fitness gadget—whether it’s an actual fitness tracker or your phone—particularly in terms of calibrating so that you can get reliable measurements. Another aspect you might want to look into is connecting your gadget to platforms like Strava or MyFitnessPal.

Know Yourself
To get the most out of your fitness gadget, you need to ensure that it has your accurate personal info like height, weight, age and gender. And when you’re about to start a new exercise program using a gadget or web tool, you might want to first assess your fitness level. Many apps, smart watches and fitness trackers have tests that you can run to create a benchmark that you can use to compare yourself with the average fitness level for your age group and to monitor your progress.

Know Your Heart
Heart rate monitoring is becoming increasingly common for fitness gadgets, and that’s a good thing. Knowing how fast your heart beats—so, your bpm or beats per minute—during exercise is the best way to ensure that you’re exercising at the proper level and also to check that you’re not overreaching. By the way, how fast your heartrate returns to normal levels after you’ve stopped is also important, so don’t immediately switch off your tracker after you stop.

“To get the most out of your fitness gadget, you need to ensure that it has your accurate personal info like height, weight, age and gender”

Know Your Form
Quite a few wearable tech on the market right now can actually help you glean added insight into your exercise routine and help you correct your form. This is especially applicable for running, as some smart watches can now provide data on your running dynamics which, in turn, can help you adjust things like cadence and stride length.

Know Your Community
Remember how we talked about connecting to various fitness platforms a couple of points back? Besides the obvious functionalities like progress tracking and tips, the social aspect of these platforms is also worth looking into, especially in terms of keeping you motivated. And this goes beyond sharing stats and trying to outdo other people’s running maps. Just like what you’ll find in a brick-and-mortar gym, online fitness communities can be incredibly supportive and you can always expect to meet people eager to share pro tips—whether it’s about how to progress in weights or the finer points of running a 5K and just about anything else.

Know The Limits of Tech
Not all gadgets are the same. Sometimes it’s obvious, like if a fitness tracker lacks a heartrate monitor. In that case, there’s nothing you can really do about it short of upgrading or adding new gadgets. In other areas, gadgets and apps are becoming better, particularly of note in terms of formulating rest periods and recommending warm ups. But there are also certain aspects where wearable tech falls short—this is particularly important when it comes to calorie counting. Long story short, the numbers you see on your fitness tracker or fitness app is, at best, an educated guess. If you really want to know how much energy your body is burning at different heart rates, a lab test is called for.

 

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