New fitness gadgets and apps make it easier for users to track their fitness progress and sleep.
The holidays are behind us and there is a good chance you are among the 45 percent of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or to get in better shape.
It’s also possible that you asked for, received or are considering purchasing a wearable fitness tracking device or app to help you meet those goals. In 2014, the use of health-related apps increased by 62 percent, and an estimated 45.7 million wearable fitness devices were sold in 2015.
One popular aspect of wearable fitness technology is sleep tracking. Healthy sleep plays a huge role in good health and overall well-being. Sleep deficiency is linked to heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and depression.
Many devices use motion detectors (accelerometers), meaning that movement equals wakefulness and lack of movement equals sleep. Other trackers record REM sleep phase and measure heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response (a change in the electrical resistance of the skin caused by emotional stress).
There are also apps for your smartphone that use a chest-strap heart rate monitor. The strap works in combination with the phone’s microphone, which records outside noises like car alarms, as well as snoring.
Wearable tech has also gone to the dogs. There are several options available for tracking collars that sync your dog with the latest fitness gadgets. Many of the devices also double as a GPS for those occasions when they decide to run on their own.
Some provide a comprehensive health monitor that tracks body temperature, pulse, respiration, activity, calories and posture — notifying the owner of any abnormalities.
Just like people, many pets suffer weight-related health problems. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, dogs should walk or play for 30 minutes a day and cats should have three daily play sessions of about five minutes each.
Fitness tracker 101
Here are a few things to consider when determining which fitness tracker is right for you.
- Will it sync with your phone’s Bluetooth and operating system?
- Get an estimate on the battery life of the product and how easy it is to replace a battery.
- Which apps does the device work with, and do they fit your fitness needs?
- Do you like the design or style of the device?
- Is it waterproof/water-resistant?
- How does it feel when you are wearing it?
- Will it meet your fitness expectations such as tracking heart rate or steps?