How to decode the data on your fitness tracker

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

So you’ve joined the fitness “band” wagon, and you’re loving your nifty new tracker. Well, for now, it’s looking good on your wrist and you’re still trying to figure out how it all works. We’re here to help you understand the important stuff. In the meantime, keep pacing up and down (it’s good for the step count)!

The basic function of a fitness band is to track your steps, record your exercise activities, monitor your sleep and keep tabs on your eating habits. The starting point for average steps per day is 10 000, but you can adjust this to be more or less. We suggest sticking to 10 000, even though it may seem like way too many for you, you’ll be surprised how quickly this can be clocked in a day. Most trackers will be compatible with a mobile/desktop app so that you can sync your data to view it in more detail.

Let’s start with steps

Moving is important. We all know this. In fact, not moving for prolonged periods of time has even coined a new phrase – “sitting is the new smoking”. According to Dr. Kelly Starrett and Juliet Starrett, co-authors of the book Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World, their research suggests that high injury rates in athletes are due to overdoses of sitting and that for every hour we sit, we lose two hours of our lifetime. Now, that’s motivation enough to get up out of that chair and move!

So, whether you’re wanting to lose weight or improve your running or cycling skills, your tracker is actually your new best friend and coach. It’s going to beep at you when you’ve been inactive for long periods of time, prompting you to move. Plus, being able to review the data collected from your exercise activities will help you to see where you’re struggling so that you can work on improvements. It could be as simple as taking the stairs to the office or going for more lunchtime strolls. Or if you’re not fitting in enough workout time per week – then it’s time to readjust your exercise routine to make the most of the time you’ve got. Fit First Training in Pretoria recommend the 30-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method as it’s more effective than regular cardio when it comes to burning fat and improving fitness.

Remember, your fitness tracker is not going to make you lose weight or get fit, that part is up to you.

How is your diet?

We’ve all heard the mantra – eat less, exercise more. In theory, yes, that’s exactly what you need to do. We’re not saying starve yourself, but rather opt for a healthier approach to what you’re putting into your body. With the food log function on your fitness band – where you can log everything you eat (no cheating!) – you’ll soon see what foods are pushing your calorie count into the red.

Healthy eating and exercising go hand in hand. If you’re falling short on one, then you’re going to drag the other down too. Our resident health expert, Dr Maurits Kruger, suggests drinking at least two litres of water a day plus cutting out all refined carbs such as bread, pastries, pasta and baked goods, as well as refined sugars. Reducing portion sizes and eating slowly is also very effective.

Sleep, sleep, sleep

It’s so important to get enough shut-eye, by now you know the benefits. With your fitness band tracking your sleep cycle, you’ll be able to see how many hours you get a night and how restless you are. Don’t fret too much about the tracking of your sleep, though – it’s pretty normal to have moments of deep sleep and restlessness during the night and your tracker is simply providing you with a general overview. What you need to deem most important is getting those seven to eight hours of sleep in. Try to make bedtime a routine where you wind down from the day, shutting off from all electronics and distractions. If you’re really suffering from a sleep disorder, it’s best to contact a professional.

Do you have a question on skin or health for our experts? You can ask it here.

 

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