10 Tips for success with your fitness tracker

10 Tips for success with your fitness tracker

For people like me who are Diabetic or Pre-diabetic, diet is a very important aspect in controlling the disease. However, exercise is also extremely important in maintaining health and fitness. Research shows that walking an extra 2,000 steps a day could help you maintain your weight. This article will discuss about Fitness trackers such as Fitbit, and provide tips to make the most out of it.

The fastest and easiest way to become more active is to add more steps to your daily routine. You can walk to the break room on another floor of your office, or park your car farther away from the entrance. It is important to track your daily activity in some way. If your primary activity is walking or running, getting a fitness tracker or pedometer will help with this. A fitness tracker usually do more things than a pedometer, such as track your sleep, heart rate, and encourage you to be more active through a social network.

About 2 months ago, I bought a Fitbit Charge 2 tracker. This fitness tracker is equipped with a screen that can show my step count, continuous heart rate, guided breathing exercise, and track several other activities (running, interval training, etc). The Fitbit also has its own social network where you can add your friends from address book who already own and use a Fitbit tracker. You can participate in weekly step contest with your friends (or even complete strangers), share your food/water intake, and post on the network. The Fitbit also reminds you to walk every hour, so you do not go a long time without any activity.

Based on my experience, I have compiled a few tips to help make the most out of your Fitbit or any other activity tracker:

Tip #1 – Gather your baseline: The first few days after getting your fitness tracker, perform your normal day-to-day activities. This will help you gather your baseline. For example, my baseline was approximately 4,500 steps per day.

Tip #2 – Start Slowly: Do not go from being a couch potato to walking 10 miles a day in one day. Take your time, pace up your daily steps, and prepare your body for it. I started by adding small amounts of activity to my routine that collectively added about 2,000 steps per day in my first week. Remember, this is not a marathon – you want to make this activity part of your lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Tip #3 – Divide your day: The Fitbit (and most other fitness trackers) reminds you every hour to get some steps. However, I generally have several hours of my day in meetings where I cannot walk every hour. Instead, I divide my day in chunks and ensure that I get adequate steps in each chunk. For example, my total goal steps is 11,000 daily. I try to get 3,500 steps before noon, another 3,500 steps before 4:00 PM, and the remaining steps before bedtime. Find what time slices work best for you and track them in slices. Do not go too long without any activity, otherwise you will find yourself well short of your goal after a tiring day at work!

Tip #4 – Get consecutive chunks of time: This may sound opposite to tip #3, but it is not. While you want to spread your steps through the day, it also helps to have a large chunk of continuous time of walking. Even a 3,000 steps continuous walk will help you raise your heart rate slightly, helping you lose more fats. Your fitness tracker should help you track contiguous activity time.

Tip #5 – Post-meal walks are great: Yes, a short walk after a large meal like dinner helps in reducing your sugar levels after the meal. This is particularly useful for diabetics or pre-diabetics.

Tip #6 – Track your Heart Rate: I never thought this was important, but having a low resting heart rate is really important. Additionally, the same activities that help you lose weight and control your diabetes also help you lower your resting heart rate! When I bought my Fitbit, I had a high resting heart rate of 87 bpm. Today, roughly a month after purchasing the fitness tracker, I record a much better resting heart rate of 73 – thanks to my more active lifestyle!

Fitbit Fitness tracker Heart rate trend

Tip #7 – Get good sleep: Sleep is crucial to your well-being as it helps your body recover and relax. Getting 6-8 hours of peaceful sleep is necessary. Purchase a fitness tracker that can track your sleep and remind you to sleep on time. The Fitbit Charge 2 also comes with “silent alarm”, where it vibrates and wakes you at a configured time.

Tip #8 – Relax: Relaxing is necessary for your body and muscles to recover. It is a good idea to take a break from activities once in a while. Relax, take a break, go to a beach, and spend some time with your loved ones!

Tip #9 – Some pain is normal: If you were sedentary for a long time, it is normal to get some muscle aches. You know your own body better, and should be able to distinguish injury from muscle-use pain. Ice shakes can help your muscles recover from the pain.

Tip #10 – Improve your diet: A diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein & fat not only helps control your blood glucose levels, but also get the necessary fuel and stamina to improve your fitness for these activities. A good diet should always go hand-in-hand with a good activity regimen. Some fitness trackers, such as Fitbit, allow you to track your food and water intake.