a-quick-guide-to-activity-trackers

A Quick Guide to Activity Trackers

Many people desire to be physically fit and active. However, sedentary office jobs and busy personal lives often relegate exercise to the bottom of our to-do lists. That’s why having a little help via technological means can be a good way to stay motivated to reach your fitness goals. Enter the modern day “activity tracker”. Activity trackers are tools that specifically monitor and track a person’s exercise metrics and often contain built in fitness advice and alerts that can help a person stay focused on their overall fitness goals.

As with any technology, there are a vast variety of activity trackers to choose from. Each one comes with its own level of performance, features, price range, and types of fitness metrics that they will monitor. The guide below will provide you with a handy outline of the features that are most sought after, in hopes of making your selection process for activity trackers effortless.

Commonly Found Sensors and Metrics

The list below is not all inclusive. It contains some of the more important features to look out for.

Accelerometers

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Accelerometers sensors are embedded in activity trackers to track the number of steps that you take in a given time frame in addition to the total distance that you travel and the calories that you have burned during the course of your day.

The information provided by an accelerometer, while nominal, is informative and well suited for those that are only seeking the basics in fitness tracking. If, however, you engage in activities that go beyond simple walking and jogging, then an activity tracker equipped with additional specialized sensors would be in order.

Altimeters

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An altemeter sensor can be useful for those that engage in trail running and other activity that involves trekking up and down different terrains, as you will be able to keep track of your altitude variations. They can also be useful for those that engage in more routine physical activity, such as stair climbing.

Heart Rate Monitors

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Zensorium Being – The Mindfulness Tracker

The ability to track your cardiac rhythm can be very useful especially if you engage in rigorous physical activity. The majority of activity trackers with heart rate monitors have them embedded in a band worn on the wrist. This frees you from the need of having to wear bulky and inconvenient chest straps. They display your current heart beat in a visual display, making spot checking your heart rate at any given time an ease. You can also download your complete heart rate data later so you can analyze the fluctuation of fitness activity and intensity throughout the day.

GPS

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GPS sensors are available on dedicated activity trackers as well as smart watches equipped with fitness tracking capability. If your exercise activity includes engaging in biking, jogging, or hiking, a GPS sensor can yield valuable data about the pace and distance covered in your fitness activities. This type of sensor also has the added benefit of being able to map out your routes on a fitness app.

Sleep Monitors

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There are devices dedicated exclusively to monitor your sleeping patterns, but sleep tracking functionality is also available on some activity trackers. While not as detailed as dedicated sleep monitors, these sensors will provide you with basic data about your movements through the night and the amount of time spent in rest. When a sleep monitoring tracker is paired with a heart sensor, the device can track the varying phases of sleep, including REM sleep.

Ergonomics

Activity trackers come in a variety of form factors. Some are designed to be worn on the wrist or ankle. Others are designed to be attached to your person by being clipped to clothing or placed on a chain around your neck.

Bracelet-style activity trackers often come with screens that allow you to monitor your activity in real-time. Some smart watches equipped for fitness tracking allow for pairing with other stand-alone sensors, such as heart rate monitors and power meters, extending their standard monitoring cpability even further.

Water-Resistance

Regardless of the form factor chosen for your activity tracker, over the course of the average day’s activities it will likely be exposed to some sort of moisture. This could be while washing your hands, from rain/condensation, or even due to perspiration. Most, if not all activity trackers are manufactured to be water-resistant. Some identify this level of water protection as “splash-proof”.

While the level of protection offered by water-resistant activity trackers is sufficient for most people, those that engage in water-related activities, such as swimming, should pay closer attention to what level of atmospheric pressure the device is rated. This is denoted by the device’s ATM rating. Activity trackers rated at 5 ATM offer full submersion protection for depths of up to 50 meters and are a good start for those who are looking to take their tracker into the pool with them.

Apps

Apps are a common supplementary feature found with most of the activity trackers that are currently on the market. These apps can greatly augment the effectiveness of your device.

Most apps are designed for ease of use, being intuitive and easy to read within their user interface. Even so, some trackers also come with web-based applications that make navigating and analyzing the collected fitness data that much easier.

To Conclude

Many people have their own set of needs and goals when it comes to choosing an activity tracker. However, the current generation of these devices offer an almost unlimited feature set, which makes choosing an ideal activity tracker a simple task.

 

Alex is a health and fitness enthusiast that enjoys writing about the latest wearable technologies. For more takes on wearable topics, head down to his blog at Activity Tracker World. In addition to writing about fitness and health, Alex also does interviews with other bloggers.

 

*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.

 

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Resources:

ExplainThatStuff | How Altimeters Work
Wiki | Accelerometer
ISO | ISO standard for water-resistant watches makes “huge splash”
NIH | Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep
IAC | Glonass News

 

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