Can Turning to Technology Help You Get Fit?

Can Turning to Technology Help You Get Fit?

Can Turning to Technology Help You Get Fit?

Want to get more exercise, but something often seems to get in the way? You’re tired. You think you don’t have time. Or you just forget.

We know we need exercise to feel better and help prevent obesity, heart disease and other health problems. But with our busy lives, it can be hard to make exercise a priority. For many of us, it’s a challenge to get started. And if we do get started, it can be hard to keep our exercise routine going.

Technology may offer help to get you going and keep you motivated. A fitness gadget can’t fix the weather for your workout or heal an injury that’s holding you back. But it can keep exercise top of mind. And it can even push you to keep a workout streak going or to work harder.

Trackers Can Help You Be More Active

Thanks to our growing use of tracking tools, we can count everything from calories to steps to how much we sleep, says Penn State Universityleaving site icon Some of the most popular tracking methods:

  • Smartphones
  • Smart watches
  • Wearable gadgets

In fact, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. use some type of fitness device to track their health and exercise, says the Pew Research Centerleaving site icon

Studies show that routinely using a fitness tracker can raise your activity level, says Johns Hopkins Medicineleaving site icon Staying with it and improving your exercise habits are key, and tracking helps with the motivation to do that.

Activity trackers do much more than count steps, says Mayo Clinicleaving site icon They can:

  • Show how far you've traveled
  • Track whether you were walking, jogging or swimming
  • Figure out your calorie intake and burn rate
  • Track your heart rate and body heat

Having a record of what you’re doing can keep you honest about how little exercise you may be getting. It can help you change your thinking and be a reward for improvement.

Keeping track of activity can help you add more walking, more workouts, more strength training or other activities. It puts your activity levels front and center and can help bring about lasting changes.

Seeing progress in real time can help some people stick with it. Linking trackers with other devices, like bathroom scales, helps others. The social part of using similar devices with friends keeps some people engaged. Others like to earn badges or awards for reaching milestones. 

Next Steps

With so many options available, the choices can be overwhelming. You can start by deciding how much you want to spend. If you already have a device you can use, look for what app works for you. Try different ones to see how you like them and how easy they are to use. Many offer free trials to start, so there’s no risk.

Once you decide what method you’re going to use, make the most of it:

  • Use the tracker every day.
  • Set some goals.
  • Find activities you enjoy that fit into your life so you can keep with it.
  • Look for family or friends who use similar trackers to spur each other on.
  • Check your numbers each day. 

Remember, if it has been a while since you exercised or if you’re starting a new activity, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first. You can talk about what exercise is right for you, what apps or devices you want to use to help, and what results you’re aiming for.

Find What Works for You and Keep Moving

Find a device or app that helps you keep moving and adding to your fitness level, and keep using it. And it’s just as important to find an exercise you like and easy ways to fit more activity in your day. Try some of these ideas to get started:

Sources: Could a Fitness Tracker Boost Your Heart Health?, leaving site icon Johns Hopkins Medicine; Boost Physical Activity with Smart Technology, leaving site icon Penn State University, 2022; About one-in-five Americans use a smart watch or fitness tracker, Pew Research Center, 2020; Walking: Make it count with activity trackers, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2023