Get moving and motivated with the perfect fitness band

watchesOut with the old and in with the new.  It seems these days the “old-fashioned” pedometer just doesn’t cut it with fitness gurus.  Activity trackers, otherwise known as fitness bands or fitness trackers, are taking the place of original pedometers and replacing them with more high-tech versions. 

But considering the price tag, are these devices worth it?

“(Fitness bands are) not an essential but an extra motivator,” Ray Meyer Fitness Center Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness Chris Nasti said. “With activity trackers in general, they’re a great way to motivate people.”

How they work

The concept of wearable technology has been around for a long time with Bluetooth headsets, smart watches and Google Glass just to name a few. Fitness bands have grown in popularity over the past few years with the push to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Using the devices may be easy for some or more challenging for others depending on the user’s familiarity with technology. Users simply wear the device daily and try to achieve goals they set for themselves such as distance walked or step count. Some devices also have the ability to track sleep and heart rates.

“I’ve been using it to track what I eat,” DePaul student Micki Burton said. Burton also explained that students have a tendency to choose other less energetic activities such as sitting on the couch and watching TV.

“They are a good reminder that there are other options, like taking a walk outside.  (The device) holds you accountable,” Burton said. Most fitness bands sync to an app or system on your computer, which can sync automatically or the user may have to manually sync the device.   

A unique aspect is the idea of adding a social component to activity tracking.  Fitbit, for example, allows you to connect with friends who also have a Fitbit.  Then you can challenge them to achieve the most steps in one week or other challenges like that.

“We have done challenges with the Fitbit,” registered dietitian Christiana Schoerner said. “We found working together helps and people are more motivated to get in steps.” 

The idea of a social component isn’t unique to Fitbit as many other activity trackers have a community feature that allows you to connect with family and friends.

Adding style

Most fitness trackers are to be worn around the clock to track every detail of your daily routine, from calorie counting to sleeping.  Because users are always wearing the band, they want to look good wearing it. 

Some companies found a solution to that and offer stylish looking bands you can switch out to match the fitness band color to your outfit.

Popular designer Tory Burch even has a Fitbit line designed so users can take the small device out of the original band and place it in Burch’s metal bracelets or necklaces for $195. The line also includes a lower-priced option at $38 for a silicone band that is still fashion forward.

Swarovski also offers a dazzling option to style up the Misfit activity tracker but that comes at $169. The cost component is probably the biggest concern to consumers, but there are options for everyone.

Are they worth it?

Fitness bands offer ease and motivation to get moving, but it doesn’t come without a cost.  Depending on how intense you want to make your fitness band experience you can find a basic product that is affordable. If you want to take it a step further you can invest in a higher-priced product. 

Group Fitness instructor Erin Richardson said that while fitness bands are a useful tool to learn base knowledge about your activity, to use them with caution.

“They cannot always be completely accurate,” Richardson said. “If you’re relying completely on how many calories you should eat based on your fitness band, that can get a bit dicey because they’re not so accurate.

“I think they’re a great way to keep track of your physical activity but they tell you how many calories you can eat a day and it’s a guesstimate and some people view it as law, so I think you just have to be careful.”