Ask the Expert: Fitness apps and devices

Ask the Expert: Fitness apps and devices

(KUTV) Whether tracking food intake, steps taken, sleep, or activity level, the number of wearables used to keep tabs on your fitness is on the rise. But with so many devices to choose from, how do you weed through the growing number of options to choose the right device?

Cory Smith, IT Project Manager at Intermountain Healthcare, says that having a fitness tracker should be tied to a goal. The wearable you choose should be based on your individual needs, your lifestyle and what you are working towards. Once you know your goal, you can choose a fitness tracker to help support it.

Weight loss: Do you want to lose weight? If so, a simple activity tracker like the Fit Bit works great. It can track your sleep patterns, amount of time you are active and the number of steps you take in a day.

High-intensity activity: If you’re an avid runner or cycler, you may get frustrated with the simplicity of the Fit Bit and may opt for a more sophisticated tracker such as a Polar or Garmin.

Increase your energy level: Low energy can be caused by many things, but it is well understood that certain behaviors can lead to more energy. An activity tracker that includes a heart rate monitor and a good app or website, can help you manage getting enough sleep, keeping active and eating healthy.

Making a statement: If you want to show-off your wearable, there are many options including activity trackers in jewelry and fine watches

Choosing the right activity tracker can also depend on the ecosystem of technologies you already have. The majority of trackers work well with Android and Apple phones, but there are some that work exclusively with one or the other or have better features, says Smith.

Beyond data collection, there are many ways to use the data you receive to help you stay on track with your goal and to make sure you get a picture of your health through the data. There are many apps and websites that with your data you can:

· Visualize your data over time in charts and graphs

· Connect with friends and families and have friendly challenges and competitions.

· Connect with online communities that share ideas on how to reach your goals.

· Through paid subscriptions, get additional insights from your data and receive coaching toward achieving your goal.

It is easier to change lifestyle behavior with what you can measure.

Smith got his first fitness tracker five years ago along with a challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day for an entire year. Every day, he would check his step count to see how long of a walk or run he needed to take before the end of the day. That year he lost 15 pounds, had more energy, and started eating better. It set him on a path of getting to know his health “data” better.