Discussion about
frankspin

Have fitness trackers and wearables improved your health?



As wearables start to grow and find their stride, I'm beginning to notice a lot of them are bundling in fitness features such as pedometers and even heart rate monitors. It's not really surprising when you consider how cheap, and basic, fitness trackers are. The thing is though, have fitness trackers improved your health at all?

Sure they can count steps and (estimate) your calories burned, but are they working? When I had a Fitbit and Withings I found the step counting cool, but I never found myself looking down at it thinking "I should get up and move." The Withings was cool because it had a running mode, but I was already running when I picked one up.

I ultimately found out regardless of all the features offered by these devices they did nothing to motivate me or improve my lifestyle. Perhaps it was because I was already an active person, so there is a good chance I wasn’t their target demographic. However, I recognize this doesn’t mean they don’t work at all.

If you’ve been using a fitness tracker have you found it to be beneficial to your health and fitness? If it has, what one in particular and what features have you found to be the most important to you?

sort by

27 replies
danjohns7

I've implemented my home automation setup into my FitBit life, which provides incentive. For example, my TV's power outlet shuts off at 11 am, and turns back on when my FitBit reaches 3 miles (courtesy of IFTTT).

It's a simple app that provides that extra incentive when I get home from work, even if it is just a little bit extra in my every day routine.
3 like dislike
Met

That's genius! I might even say one of the best implementations of IFTTT I've ever seen.
1 like dislike
spaceguy

really nice! going to have to do something similar for sure!
0 like dislike
Met

My UP band helped while it was working.. Then it helped again when the replacement band was working.. Then I gave up on getting more replacements and noticed me going back to how I was before using the UP band within a matter of months.

I really did strive to reach my daily steps goal and took the longer way around things while walking to meet that goal. I also got up and walked around for a bit every now and then when the idle notifier buzzed. Buuuuuuut all that is history now that I stopped using the UP.
1 like dislike
frankspin

The issue of them breaking is what worries me as they continue to trend into commodity item.
0 like dislike
Barbbobermarq

I am on. My 5th one in 17 months. But I love the UP
0 like dislike
jcallina

I've had a FitBit for about three years. In that time I have gone from couch to about 7-8 miles a day, mostly walking some jogging. I've lost about 20 lbs in that time. I think it is fair to say that the social aspect of it has changed my life pretty drastically. Not sure that works for everyone, but I am highly motivated by achievements and numbers.

My FitBit has been lost or broken a couple of times in that span, but FitBit has had some amazing customer service and replaced it for free each time.
1 like dislike
Met

They even replaced the lost ones? :o
0 like dislike
frankspin

Awesome job, keep it up!
0 like dislike
brianpagansd

I have and use the following. Gear2, Fitbit Zip and Withings Smart Body Analyzer. I began using the Gear and the Gear 2 as my pedometer for steps but found that they weren't all that accurate. However, they did get me off the couch and more active. I finally changed to using the Fitbit Zip to count my steps and the Withing Smart Body Analyzer for recording weight, body fat and BMI. The nice thing is that the Fitbit and the scale both sync with MyFitnessPal as well as other apps. They have all helped to keep me motivated and on track. A couple of good apps to use are PACT App and the Walgreen's Rewards App. Since the begining of the year, I have lost 85 lbs. Sooo, i would say "Yes...They helped improve my Health"
1 like dislike
jupo42

Pact helped me out too, forcing me to make sure I substituted fruits or veggies in for things during the week, and forcing me to get a lot of 10000-step days in. Money can be a good motivator. :)
0 like dislike
deeps29

Yes, it did. I was extremely inactive few months back. One day I pulled the plug and purchased Fitbit One as it was going for only $65. This device showed me in numbers how inactive I was, I was barely walking 3000 steps a day. That was the time when I changed my lifestyle, made sure to complete the goal everyday. Since then, I have become very active. I not only complete my 10K step goal everyday but I also ride cycle everyday for a minimum of 10 miles and do weight training 4 days a week. I can see a huge change in my body in just 8 weeks. It all started with Fitbit and it is now an important part of my daily routine.
1 like dislike
kingslook

Lost 19 lbs since January using Fitbit Force. Motivation with online communities really works for me.
1 like dislike
frankspin

Nice job!
0 like dislike
Patrickryan0117

I've been using fitness tracker for north of 3 years and have experienced Jawbone Up, Fitbit Flex, Misfit Shine, Withings Pulse O2 and Polar Loop. Plus I have a number of app on my phone to track my activities.

Just to clear out one thing. though:
NOTHING CAN IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH BUT YOURSELF.

Those trackers just help you monitor yourself providing numbers so you can adjust yourself according. They don't help you get fit or become healthier. You have to be the one who takes the initiative to change your lifestyle.

Go to gym, workout regularly and get on a healthier diet and quit junk food, then you don't even need those trackers to be healthy.

I lost 75 kg in these years using fitness trackers. It does help me understand my progress and adjust my workout, but eventually, I have to be one who is willing to get my fat ass to the gym.

1 like dislike
TgD

I haven't used any real fitness trackers, but felt like adding a somewhat snarky off-topic response.

I do believe that 'wearables' can increase fitness and health, and I like the idea of having statistics to back it up, but I've also seen people who wear stuff like a Q-Ray bracelet and say it improves their health and life. I 100% believe that is placebo effect.
0 like dislike
crachor

The placebo effect is interesting. There was a study done that showed that even when volunteers were told they were given a placebo, positive effects were still observed.
If the people who wear those bracelets have tangible effects and they believe it's from wearing it, isn't that good enough for them? Mind over matter can have real effects, OTOH, I do believe modern medicine has it's proper place for many things, we'd be in a much different world without the advances made in the last century.
0 like dislike
nportelli

No. Has no bearing on my activity at all. Not even sure why I wear it anymore. I only wanted it for sleep tracking and fitbit sucks at that. Well it doesn't have a 'smart' alarm at least.
0 like dislike
crachor

I'm not sure if fitbit has the software feature, but with Jawbone, if you forget to turn on the sleep tracking mode, the next morning you can choose to add sleep and the timing is still really accurate (plus you can tweak the time in increments).
0 like dislike
Hermulus

Gear Fit user here. I bought mine primarily for the heartrate monitor, which serves me quite well despite what others have experienced. I was well into starting an active lifestyle when I bought the Gear Fit, and it helps me while running to keep an eye on my HR. The most lacking feature would be the absence of the ability to see mine HR scale over the course of a run, but I do get readings during runs and an AVG and MAX summary. I'm have a decent amount of self-motivation coursing through my veins, so I don't need a device or software to keep me going. Rather, I see them as tools to enhance my performance in reaching my fitness goals, especially since the software enables instant logging.

I certainly look forward to the next generation of the Gear Fit. Relative to other fitness trackers, this was the best value for me when I purchased it on sale for $99.
0 like dislike
crachor

I bought a Jawbone UP early this year, but returned it because plugging it in to update was too much of a hassle (first world problem); but really, I'd forget to to do a lot, I missed a lot data because it only stored so much at a time.
Then, recently, I bought a Jawbone UP24. Wireless syncing is much better. I'm more aware of how sedentary I can be and have made much more of an effort to be active. Even when my step count comes up short now, it's usually because I was carrying something in my left hand and wasn't moving my arm properly for the device to track right.
Also, having worked in a hospital for over a year now, and taken some medical classes; I'm much more aware of how important good health is. My water intake has increased and pop intake drastically dropped. Even though I don't track my food in the Jawbone app I've been more aware of my health in general.
0 like dislike
jpassarella

I don't have a wearable (yet) per se, but I have been using the Runkeeper app for nearly a year and that, along with my pedometer app have both motivated me to run longer, walk more steps, etc. I've lost about 45 lbs since I started running, 90 lbs total since I began dieting. I needed to add activity to my routine to get me past a certain point. Seeing the calories burned in Runkeeper go up with each additional mile was very motivating for me to keep pushing, going farther. Same for step counts. Walking extra blocks to get over 10,000 steps each day. Since I have an iPhone, I'm waiting to see what Apple's wearable will be/offer before taking the plunge and buying some other band or device.
0 like dislike
Ididar

To be honest, The Up I bought was a slight kick in the pants but I stopped using it after a while. About all it did was to show me how little activity I actually got at work during the day. Mostly I just use MyFitnessPal to track my calories right now and that is helping (sort of). It just helps to keep me honest about my food intake instead of being able to brush it off.
0 like dislike
rspec7

I've lost 20 pounds with the help of my Fitbit Force. In the beginning, I only used it to try and increase my general movement throughout the day, and nothing really changed. But when I got serious about reducing my caloric intake, that's when the Fitbit package (app + device) began to be truly useful. I recorded everything I ate daily within the app (which has a pretty extensive database), making sure I stayed under my calorie budget. And with the Fitbit automatically estimating my calories burned, as long as what I ate stayed under what I burned, I lost weight. The graphs in the app made it super simple to read.
0 like dislike
jupo42

40 pounds in 4 months.
I've been overweight since I was a kid, and every year I have added a few pounds. I knew that I needed to fix it, and that it was as simple as changing my diet and exercising more. I've done things like try to minimize fats or carbs and change the kinds of foods that I ate, got my bike fixed and rode it around, but I never really had a specific goal nor any concrete plan to reach one. Trying to keep track of stuff and stay motivated never worked for longer than a week.

Earlier this year, I got a Fitbit and scale. The first thing you have to do is create a goal. Then you choose a Calorie deficit to get you there. The one thing you have to do is make your own rules about how to stick to the plan. Then you wear it, type in what you eat, and it does all the math. Entering food isn't always the easiest thing in the world, but in the end it's all an estimate anyway, so you find something reasonably close and move on. In the end, even a couple hundred Calorie error isn't that significant if you set up a 1000 Calorie deficit.

It is truly eye-opening having the numbers staring you in the face. I've only burned that many Calories so far today? That food has how many Calories in it? And I'm still hungry...

Subway is now my favorite restaurant. I have cut out all sodas and I'm weaning off the lattes for black coffee instead. At work, I eat salads for lunch more often than not. Cookies and potato chips are now very rarely bought for the household, and I keep low calorie snacks around that I can eat instead.

I'm taking a break from calorie counting and forced exercise to see if I can sustain the change without all the numbers, and so far the answer is yes. Pretty soon, I'll need to start it all back up again to push forward towards a new goal - forcing a Calorie deficit is hard work, and having to watch the numbers keeps me focused.
0 like dislike
kelemvor

Any current articles that compare all the different trackers these days? I know it used to basically be the fitbit and jawbone but now there are dozens out there and I have no idea which ones are best for what...
0 like dislike
Barbbobermarq

I have been using Jawbone UP for 17 months. I am active and always have been. I didn't know what to expect but I am always interested in trying things that will keep me healthy. I did not need to lose weight. What I found is that the best feature is the sleep monitoring. I found that I make more of an effort to get the right amount of sleep and to sleep consistently which is very important in staying healthy. I also like the feature that reminds me to get up and move every hour. It really is a good reminder. My only problem with the band is that I am only 5th band. They keep breaking but UP is awesome and they replace it immediately.
0 like dislike