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Make Walking Count With An Activity Tracker

Posted on July 7, 2023 at 11:00 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

Counting your steps with an activity tracker or smart watch can help motivate you to exercise. But what should you look for in an activity tracker, and how can you use it to set your fitness goals?  

Walking is a great way to get and stay fit, but are you doing enough to see results?  Using activity-tracking devices and apps can help you set and reach your fitness goals.


What are activity trackers?

Activity trackers, (also known as activity monitors or fitness trackers), are a modern equivalent of pedometers.  While they are designed to track your steps, they can do so much more. 

Many activity trackers can:

  • Determine how far you’ve traveled,
  • Determine what type of movement you’re doing (walking, jogging, swimming, etc.),
  • Measure your sleep length and quality,
  • Compute calorie intake and number of calories burned,
  • Monitor your heart rate,
  • Check your skin temperature and sweating levels, and
  • Serve as alarm clocks or watches.


Some trackers can display your progress in real time, while all trackers can show these details later on a smartphone, computer, or tablet. Some activity trackers can even sync with smart devices, such as a smart bathroom scale.  They can provide social support through apps or websites, and they can assist with your goal setting by giving you cues and rewards throughout the day to encourage healthy behaviors.


How do you know which activity tracker is right for you?

There are many features to choose from when it comes to activity trackers. Here are some to consider when deciding which device may best suit your needs and interests:

  • Ease of use. Although some activity trackers have more features and require more setup than others, most are quite simple to use.  After you’ve set up your device, just strap it onto your wrist and go!
  • Extras. The amount of information you want to collect may influence your choice.  Most activity trackers calculate the time spent on an activity, the distance traveled, and even the number of calories burned.  Some monitor your heart rate, and some allow you to upload your data to apps or computers so you can track your progress electronically.
  • Display. You should look for a device with a display screen that you can read in different types of lighting, especially if you will be using it both outdoors and indoors.
  • Accuracy. Most activity trackers are generally accurate and reliable at counting basic steps.
  • Price. The cost of an activity tracker will depend on how many features it offers, as well as the brand name.  They are available in a wide range of prices.
How can you set and reach your fitness goals with an activity tracker?

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.  In general, aim for about 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity most days of the week.  For even more benefits, aim for about 60 minutes most days, and strive to incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Use these tips to start using an activity tracker in your daily routine:

  • Establish a baseline. When you first get your tracker, wear it throughout the day for a week, going about your daily routine activities at home and at work. At the end of the week, add up the total number of daily steps and divide by 7 – this will give you your daily average to help you set up your step goals.
  • Set short-term step goals. If your average number of steps each day is 2,000, set a short-term goal of adding 1,000 per day for two weeks.  Once you meet this goal, add a new one.
  • Set long-term step goals. Think about your overall fitness and activity goals. Your short-term goals are the building blocks for your long-term goals. One long-term goal might be walking 10,000 steps a day, or about 5 miles, several times a week.  Some studies suggest that walking at least 7,000 steps a day may be enough to help prolong your life. You can also set a goal to walk faster as your fitness level improves.
  • Track your progress. Monitor your progress over time.  Some trackers have a memory function to track your steps on a weekly or monthly basis.  You can also record your steps in a log or upload the information to a computer or mobile device. Tracking your progress can help you see whether you’re meeting your goals and when you should set fresh goals.


Best Fitness Trackers of 2023

(Source: Consumer Tested Reviews)
  1. Top Pick – Vital Fitness Tracker (9.9 stars)
    • Counts your steps
    • Tracks your daily calories
    • Gives live alerts from your smartphone
    • Monitors your blood pressure, oxygen, and heart rate
    • Helps you take control of your sleep pattern
    • Lightweight, fashionable design
    • Long-lasting battery
    • Set up time around 2 minutes
    • Price: $
  1. Fitbit Charge 5 (9.5 stars)
    • GPS for tracking runs
    • Reliable heart rate monitoring
    • Sleep monitoring
    • Real-time smartphone connectivity
    • Contactless payments
    • Price: $$
  1. Apple Watch Series 8 (9.3 stars)
    • Wide range of workout options
    • Enhanced car crash detection
    • Tracks calories and steps
    • Sleep and medication tracking
    • Great if you already have an iPhone
    • Price: $$$$
  1. Garmin Viofit 4 Activity Tracker (9.0 stars)
    • Battery lasts up to 1 year – no charging
    • Tracks steps and calories
    • Smartphone compatibility
    • Waterproof
    • Tracks steps and calories
    • Cannot monitor heart rate
    • Price: $
  1. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (8.9 stars)
    • Tracks steps and calories
    • Touchscreen
    • Attractive design
    • Decent battery life
    • Great if you already have an Android phone
    • Price: $
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