Healthy Habits: Unexpected Benefits of Fitness Trackers

fitness trackers

fitness trackersEveryone knows that fitness trackers track steps. In fact, those little pieces of plastic are notorious for making seemingly normal people pace around in circles while watching their step counter go up.

But fitness trackers are much more than fancy-looking pedometers.

When I first got my FitBit, I was mostly interested in tracking my steps. But over time, I realized that counting steps made absolutely no difference in my walking habits.

Hitting 10,000 steps on a normal day (a day without a TurboKick class) was basically not happening for me. Being aware of my inactivity wasn’t enough to make me change my walking habits. I’m a 7,000-steps-a-day kind of person—end of story.

Sleep On It

Though I won’t become a walking marathoner anytime soon, my FitBit has really excelled in its sleep tracking abilities.

I’m big on sleep. I love talking about sleep, and I love blaming any mistakes I make on a lack of sleep. Sleep is an important component of health, and I know that whenever I get less than eight hours of sleep a night, I’m miserable.

But of course, like everyone else, I sometimes stay up too late at night and regret it in the morning.

fitness trackersMy fitness tracker allows me to know exactly how many hours and minutes I sleep on a given night. It even knows when I nap.

This gives me an extra layer of accountability. If I don’t sleep a full eight hours a night, then I won’t get a little star for the day. Yes, I’m an adult. And yes, I want to be rewarded for my good behavior with a star. Don’t pretend like you wouldn’t want the same.

Why does this aspect work for me, but not the pedometer feature? I don’t know. I’m a complex person. And I really, really care about sleep.

And now, unfortunately, I also know when I sleep too much. Knowing that my fitness tracker will judge me if I don’t get up after nine hours on a Saturday morning is enough to make me drag myself out of bed.

Sound the Alarm

There’s an additional sleep benefit: a silent alarm.

I’ve always felt guilty about having a loud alarm wake me up in the morning, because it always wakes up everyone in the house—including my dog, who is not a morning person.

But with a fitness tracker, I can set an alarm that vibrates my wrist until I switch it off. My dog continues sleeping soundly, and now I don’t jolt out of bed because of a blaring alarm. Everyone wins.

fitness trackersOther Benefits

There are also other benefits to fitness trackers, depending on which ones you choose. You can use them to track your heart rate or follow your runs on GPS.

I’ve personally got my eye set on one that helps fix your posture.

The takeaway here is not to disregard a fitness tracker just because you don’t care about tracking steps. They have a lot to offer, even to someone like me who would rather sleep than walk.

Do you have a fitness tracker? What features do you like about it, and which ones do you never use?

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1 reply
  1. Dr Alison Grimston
    Dr Alison Grimston says:

    I have found my FitBit motivating – it definitely changes behaviour! I will certainly walk up all the escalators on trips to London, and make the effort to take the dogs out late at night if my step count isn’t up to much. I am in FitBit groups which helps motivate you to achieve more than your target step count. Although I use it to monitor sleep, I am aware that the EMFs are likely to affect sleep so I go without it 1-2 nights per week to monitor this.


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