Why you should buy a fitness tracker

Fitbit One with Android app
By Robert J Nelson on 4 Jun 2014 01:47 pm EDT

MobileFitIt's #MobileFit Month here at Mobile Nations, and that means we're looking at all of the best devices to get you fit and healthy. A big part of that group is of course, fitness trackers.

There are people who like to exercise and those who avoid exercise at all costs. The exercising group may be more willing to strap on a fitness tracker, however we'd argue that those who avoid exercise are the ones that would benefit much more. In fact, it seems the non-exercising group are the ones that should consider buying a fitness tracker.

Stepping back with a brief explanation for that logic — the group that enjoys exercising likely doesn't need the extra motivation that a fitness tracker can provide. As a runner and a Fitbit user, a low step count only tells me something I already know, that I took a rest day. One of the big perks of using a fitness tracker is motivation. This comes by simply watching the step count rise throughout the day, and extends to the social aspect. Both of those could help to encourage someone to take a few extra steps during the day. Maybe say, by parking a little further from the store, or by taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.

If you are the type that goes from home to work and back home spending your day at a desk — you may be surprised at how few steps you are actually taking

On a simple level, fitness trackers provide an easy way to keep track of your daily steps as well as other points such as calories burned, water intake, sleep and more. Some of them, such as the Jawbone UP app, also allow you to keep track of your food intake. More often than not the data is presented in colorful charts and graphs. That means it should be appealing and easy to read for everyone.

Thoughts of recording these details, and looking at charts and graphs does bring thoughts of the quantified self movement, but there may be something a bit simpler than getting a fitness tracker and jumping full swing in to that movement. Similar to how someone would be told to keep a food diary if they are trying to diet and lose weight — wearing a fitness tracker and paying attention to the data will make you more aware of your activity. Or more accurate in some cases, your inactivity. If you are the type that goes from home to work and back home spending your day at a desk — you may be surprised at how few steps you are actually taking. It isn't hard to find ways to take extra steps during the day, but on the flip side, it is surprisingly easy to take very few steps.

Those who do pick up a fitness tracker should follow one bit of advice to get started — you don't have to start wearing the tracker and immediately going out for extra walks. You should go about your normal routine the first few days of wearing a tracker, this way you get a baseline of your true activity. Once you have an idea of what you are doing per day, then you can find ways to make changes and begin getting the extra steps. Possibly even looking to get that magical 10,000 steps per day down the line.

Coming with the motivation aspect, many of these fitness bands offer badges. These badges are only virtual, but they should still be fun to get, and fun to share with friends when you feel like doing a little bit of bragging. Using Fitbit as an example and you could get badges for reaching a record number of steps per day or a record number of stair floors climbed per day. Fitbit also has badges for lifetime achievements. For #MobileFit Month we even setup a Fitbit group so you can see how you stack up against other Mobile Nations readers.

We made the point earlier and even talked about it on our #MobileFit Month Kickoff Show, but it seems worth stressing; using a fitness tracker could provide the extra push that will get someone off the couch, away from the television and out for some exercise. A short walk before bed could be swapped for the couch and television time. Those looking for the entertainment aspect could take that walk with some headphones listening to a podcast or an audiobook. And remember that exercise will likely improve your health, and possibly lead to the loss of a few pounds. In the end a bit of exercise should help to improve the body and the mind.

Using a fitness tracker could provide the extra push that will get someone off the couch, away from the television and out for some exercise

We've already mentioned how there is some benefit from strapping on a fitness tracker, but a good amount comes from the mind. Remember that simply knowing what you are doing helps. Perhaps the harder side of making this decision is which fitness tracker you should buy. There are plenty of available options, including some from Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, Nike and others. Most of the bigger names share the common basic features, and some add in perks such as heart-rate monitoring. But while the features may vary a bit from device to device, the good news is that you should be able to pick up a tracker for about $100.

This brings another reason to buy a fitness tracker. They are relatively inexpensive. Well, to be honest, the (roughly) $100 is a good chunk of change, but we'll consider that further motivation. After all, if you are willing to step up and spend the money you are more than likely going to be looking to get your moneys worth and that means continued use, which ultimately will get you paying attention to your daily activity and hopefully making changes to improve that daily activity.

This article originally published on Connectedly as part of #MobileFit month

Reader comments

Why you should buy a fitness tracker


Not for me either. If your lazy and out of shape, buying a gadget isn't going to motivate you if your pear-shaped body hasn't already. And for those that are fit, we know the only thing we need to know already: work hard at the gym and eat properly.

I don't need a tracker to tell me how hard I worked today, I can judge that by sore muscle groups. If you want to be fit, don't be a lazy slob. A fitbit won't help you here, however a little self discipline will.

Buy a bb, get a droid for free

Those are fairly definitive blanket statements. I'll offer another perspective. I was being lazy in winters so a couple of years ago I bought a Garmin watch with a foot pod that tracks my distance even on a treadmill, syncs with my computer, and allows me to track my progress and improvement, and to map, share and review my routes. I find it motivational to look at my history and my more recent results. It makes me not want to break the chain and to keep moving. It also connects you to a community you otherwise wouldn't have if you want it to. So in that way, my tech has encouraged my consistency, which is one of the main keys to fitness. I'm now fit year-round and instead of running 5ks at best am signing up for half-marathons.

I guess I would have been proud of myself and my decision to spend a bit of money to incorporate that tech into my life, because I thought it had paid dividends. Fortunately I read the comment above and realised I was being dumb and none of that ever happened. I guess I didn't lose 20 pounds either. ;)

Posted via CB10 / Z10

I'm glad your garmin watch helped you map, review and share your routes. Some people might view those things as a gimickey hobby outside of their actual fitness routine, stuff that contributes very little to their actual fitness goals. Some of those same people might also have a community at their gym/running club/friend circle etc. instead of needing a virtual one. Still more of those people might be clever enough to notice higher weights, faster times and lower body fat as improvements without any need for additional reinforcement.

Maybe your not one of those people, in which case I'm glad your garmin watch has served you well.

Buy a bb, get a droid for free

Lol. I think you were trying hard to insult me. Why hate so much on people who do things different?

I personally don't use the online community, but I can see how some people would like it. And don't get too smug, here you are talking with strangers on... gasp... an online community.. :)

I have a gym membership as well. Feel better? The point is - you know nothing about me, or the other people here, or what motivates them. Why try to force them to do it your way, or mock them if you think they don't? Everyone's different. Let them be. Why feel the need to insult them just because they found their own way?

Posted via CB10 / Z10

Couldn't agree more. As I stated in my long post further down, there are more and other reasons why people use trackers. It's okay if someone doesn't see the need for themselves, it's the putting down of others that I take offense to.
The forums on the fitbit site are filled with posts from people who successfully lost weight with the help of their tracker. People who were afraid to go to a gym because of their weight and the way some people look down on them, but who felt safe enough to start taking small steps in their own neighborhood. Who felt encouraged because of the online community that did not put them down, but instead cheered them on.
There are also many people who -like me- use it because some health issue has screwed with their lives and it helps them keep track of their activity and trends in that (or in weight) to get more insight into their health status or as early indicators and warning signs that they need to adjust medication and/or see their doctor.
And that's why, quite frankly, it pisses me off when I see such narrow-minded judgmental posts about 'self discipline', 'laziness' and 'gimmicky toys' that actually make a huge difference for some people.

Posted with my Q10 using CB10

Just wait for the new Android update and this will all change... Most of the new android apps and fitness trackers require the Bluetooth LE which isn't compatible with the current version of Android on the BlackBerry devices.

But I wish they would just make an app for us... We want to participate too

Posted via CB10

We need an article tailored to BB10, including Android apks, to know what is accessible to us. Nobody wants to buy a device and have the surprised that is isn't compatible with his phone.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30STA100-5/

Indeed. I received a Jawbone Up24 fitness wristband as a gift and now am going to have to figure out what to do...

Posted via CB10

Do these damn peripheral apps work with BB10?

I cant even get my damn sony camera app to work with my BB10.

Signature - Google wants your info. What are you gonna do about it?

Cool article, i'm in the market for a tracker, but I'm at a loss whether they would work on my Z10. Especially fitbit. Please amend your article with this info. This is after all a BlackBerry site....

CB10/Z10 STL100-1/10.2.1 /Telkom Mobile South Africa

They do not work with BlackBerry 10 until the Android Runtime update to fix LE Bluetooth, due in BlackBerry 10.3.

Posted via CB10

Figures, I'm going to get the Fitbit anyways and just use it with my PC. Hopefully it becomes compatible soon!


I don't like Fitness Tracker. Exercise 3 days a week and after a year...
Where is the progression? There is not such a progression that it motivate you every week. The motivation need to come from the inside of you and not from Numbers.

Posted via CB10

I think Nike by far has the best fitness app and tracker in my opinion.
I could not ask for it to do anything more than it already does.
The only major issue I have is that it isn't on BlackBerry, and the Nike+ Running for download from Snap is a waste of time.

As for motivation, Nike has a great system for earning Badges Colors and Fuel as well as beating previous times etc.

Posted via CB10

So basically, these interesting things are for people who have iToys, and Androids.

This is supposed to be CrackBerry. Just saying.


This is SPAM!
Please Author talk about BlackBerry, The apps to get fitness in BB, and how to connect this app to these devices, but NOT try sell me one.

Most trackers can't be connected to BlackBerry devices yet because the Android side needs to be updated.

"Snap" is the best stop-gap solution for Android apps while we wait for BlackBerry to get its act together...

Wise pieces of advice in this article. Most trackers are best used to give you a baseline or to motivate potatoes of all sorts :).
Anybody working out 2-3 times a week just needs a heart rate monitor or some advanced kit also measuring body temperature and blood composition :)

"Snap" is the best stop-gap solution for Android apps while we wait for BlackBerry to get its act together...

Sorry, but I really don't see a compelling reason to buy a fitness tracker, based on the article. I'm certainly not going to buy a device that doesn't work with BlackBerry 10.

Posted via CB10

You can get a pedometer for free and it'll be better than a tracker. I found with my last one it would count every movement you make. Petting the dog, brushing your teeth etc...not worth wasting 100$

Posted via CB10

Such a bummer to see so much negativity. In any case, I have a Fitbit One and I use it daily, even without a BlackBerry app. And before anyone asks, I only use a Z30, I don't use an Android or iPhone or anything. The Fitbit comes with a little USB dongle (heh, that word makes me giggle) that I leave plugged into my Macbook (yes, I use a Mac, I know some people get upset about that but it's not like BlackBerry makes laptops lol) and it syncs perfectly with that in about 5 seconds and I view my dashboard on the website. I enjoy the social aspect of it, which is why I got it. I had a Withings Pulse before, which I also enjoyed using, but it lacked the social bit for me. While it hasn't changed my life, I like seeing how different days compare, and it's a reminder for me to be a little more active every day.

Is it for everyone? Nah, of course not. Can it help motivate you to move more? Sure. Good article Robert!

I agree with you Michelle.
I haven't received it yet, but I did place an order for a Fitbit. Yes, even though there's no native support. I have enough reasons to make use of it anyhow.
I have been reasonably active in the past so I know I can do it, even without a tracker. And yes, I do have a dog so I get out and walk anyhow... That being said, just going for walks with the dog and monitoring that through an app like Cascarun or Runkeeper doesn't give me an overview of the full amount of activity during the day, nor does it monitor my sleep.
I recently ran into some trouble health wise and as a result, I just don't have the same amount of energy I used to have and I gained some weight. As much as I hate to, I have to adjust to the new situation. My Fitbit (once received) will help me in monitoring my activity and sleep, find out what my new limits are and hopefully in stretching them up overtime, even if it's just by 100 steps at a time. On the dashboard or in the sideloaded app I can also monitor my food habits and adjust them as needed, or I can use My Fitness Pal for that as it syncs to my Fitbit account. Because it is all gathered in one spot it will be much easier for me to notice important changes that indicate I need to visit my specialist again. I may be able to keep a food diary on paper, but hard numbers about my energy levels and the resulting activity are not nearly as easy to keep track of on my own.
The motivational aspect of fitbit is something that can help me push just that little bit further and I already found a group of people who are in similar situations to mine; sharing experiences and advice is helpful too. From the forum there I have already soaked up some valuable information.
To those who are incredibly fit or who don't feel the need for a tracker I can only say: Good for you! But please, don't put someone down who does find value in a tracker, for whatever reasons.
I'm adding a fitbit to my life to make monitoring certain things easier, and yes, also because it works motivational in a 'fun' way. So what if I can use a little push from an electronic device and a bunch of strangers? Pretending like anyone who 'needs' a tracker is a lazy bum with no self discipline is not fair to anyone who has made the choice to live healthier and start moving more, be it for fun or for health reasons. If the end result leaves people happier and healthier it's all good, right? [/end essay]

Great comments, Michelle and VeniceBB!
I picked up a Fitbit One in February or March and was astounded as to how few steps I took most days. And when I took them. Some days I struggle to get to 3000 steps. Some days I'm at almost 20,000 (usually the day I golf -- number depends on how straight I hit it :-p). I now try to "schedule" a walk in the middle of the day for the days I know I'm desk-bound. I have a Z10 and as of this weekend, a Z30. I sync the Fitbit One with my laptop (using the dongle) and when I need to, I use the Fitbit App (Amazon store) on my Z10/Z30 to check my progress. It works for me :-)

Gimmick tech. Arnold didn't become Arnold off of a fitness tracker. He took steroids.

Ok...better example: Jack LaLanne.

And countless people throughout time didn't shed fat by weighting around for wearable tech. They changed dietary habits and started exercising.

Nothing personal against the author here. This field of tech's just ridiculous, unless I guess you're a pro athlete. But then, even they've gotten by just fine with whatever they've had until now.

Its like saying the telegraph worked fine before the phone came along. It of course isn't for everyone but some people either need the extra motivation or a better means of tracking their paths towards their fitness goals.

Goodness your right. How did people ever track their fitness goals before we had all this technology. It's super complicated to notice decreasing times on runs, all those huge numbers get me so frazzled.

Buy a bb, get a droid for free

With that logic why are you even using a smartphone? Everything around us is getting it's flare of tech built in. Remember it isn't working out for you, its just a tracker doing that it was built for, track.

They may not be for everyone, but wearables is a billion dollar industry because they do what they're made for.

Posted via CB10

A smartphone allows me to do things a dumb phone didn't. There were (and are) plenty of existing, time tested ways of tracking fitness goals, which is why I'm a little surprised about the billion dollar stat (just a little surprised, because you can sell almost anything, but # of sales doesn't necessarily prove superiority. Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single.)

The telegraph vs. phone example doesn't work, because these devices aren't making you faster/stronger/leaner/increasing your endurance, etc--basically, not helping you achieve the goal you're after.

It's a tracker, not a performance enhancing gadget or drug. Those wearing it are still doing the workout.

Posted via CB10

Exactly. Which goes back to my original point: if it's not enhancing your performance, and unless it results in a change in key aspects of your lifestyle--like diet and amount of exercise--it's not doing anything for you. And those doing the workouts already have ways to track, motivate, etc. At least that's my opinion. I don't need a company telling me to buy their $200+ product to motivate myself or track how much I ran, etc. and I would venture that most people don't.

Regardless of our opposing opinions, it's been fun having this civil discussion with you.

it actually does help change eating and workout habits. There's also a social aspect to it where you can connect with your friends or significant other and challenge each other.

I got my up24 NIB for $70, a steal if you ask me. Worth every penny.

Nice to see a back and forth on CB without swearing and trolling.

Have a good one

Posted via CB10

I will chime in for a couple of reasons. Having owned a trendy Fitbit and returned it for the Jawbone Up24, I much prefer the Up24 for several reasons. 1) I did not like the shady Fitbit Force recall. 2) The Up24 has better analysis and graphs. 3) The Up24 UI is almost identical on iOS as BB10 through the Android run time. 4) With the press of a button I can log exercise as well as naps.

As a guy who works out regularly and has young kids, it is important for me to get good analysis of my sleep so that I have a better idea of when to really push for a PR. As a tech aficionado, I like having that data and having it presented in graphic form.

As for compatibility with my BlackBerry, my work iPad syncs with my Up24 and uploads that information to the cloud where my BlackBerry can access it via the Android app. I can also manually input information into the app that then gets synced with the iPad. That is to say that my BlackBerry is certainly limited, but I am really looking forward to an improved Android run time with more accessibility so that I won't need to use the iPad.

TLDR: Up24 does what I want it to do and does it well.

Fit people can get a lot out of fitness trackers.

More data means more informed decisions.

Posted via CB10

I have an UP24 and I love it. Had ot for over three weeks and it has revolutionized how I workout and sleep.

I feel more in charge of my life. As Janet Jackson says"Control".

Posted via CB using my Q10

It's sad none of these actually work with BlackBerry. For all you haters saying screw this things blah blah blah crap, wait until apple drops there line of fit toys and yet again BlackBerry will be sitting solo. It's truly sad how things just pile up in front of our faces.

Posted via CB10

I too wish BlackBerry would develop apps to work with Garmin or develop its own fit tracker..

Feel like we're left behind....

Posted from my BlackBerry Z10...

For anyone wondering, Z30 on 10.3 leak + Jawbone UP24, pairing is flaky at times but it does sync. Also tested a Fitbit Flex but that does not pair.

Have a Garmin vivofit for the past few months and it works great for me. Everybody has their brand of choice. Do like the vivofit in that it has a battery that lasts for a year so no every7 day charging and it has been rated the more accurate of some of the other leading brands.

I find that in a day where I just go straight to the office and then home, I hit about 5,000 on my fit bit. I'm definitely motivated to find a way to get more steps in. When I run, bike or play basketball I get over 15,000. The device just reminds me when I've had a really sedentary day.

Posted via CB10

Hmmm. I'm thinking that something else to charge, pay for, care for and 'link' to see how little I have exercised that week is not quite what I want...

3 dogs, 3 horses and an active lifestyle seems fine to me.

I also don't plug in my dogs.....

Posted via CB10

I've been looking for a fitness tracker that has a reliable heart rate monitor. The current ones either require that you touch your finger to the device to read your heart rate or to stop moving around for the monitor to read your heart rate. My Polar FT7 (with a chest strap) continuously reads my heart rate. I would love to see a reliable heart rate monitor/fitness tracker that does not require the chest strap.

IMHO, a continuously monitored heart rate is the most accurate way to track calories consumed.

I don't understand, we all know that there's NO fitness Tracker that work with BB10 so Why an article is wrote in crackberry blog?????

Posted via CB10

Because #MobileFit Month is all across the board, which means the articles are up on all Mobile Nations sites. Plus it gives those of us who do use trackers a chance to discuss amongst ourselves how we work around limitations.

I think anything that encourages people to exercise more is a positive thing...its a gimmick maybe, but some people seriously lack motivation...and just need that kick start...everyone's life is different and has different demands...

Like some others here, I lack motivation at times. ...and I run 10k's and halfs...

It's easy to criticise others but the 'fit bits' from the leading manufacturers are a positive thing. Nd that's the key thing.

Posted from my BlackBerry Z10...

If you lack motivation for exercise and rely or something external for motivation your fitness regime is going to be short-lived.

Posted from my Z30 via CB10

I have one..Fitbit...but I'm soo fat I literally cannot see it! I sat on it about two weeks ago and because of all the rolls of fat I can't find it ! But every time I fart my ass beeps!

Cartman says: Screw you guys I'm going home!

Not for me. I work out to get away from information (technology), not to be wrapped up in it. I can track my running or cycling just as easy on the phone. So why spend the extra money on a fitness tracker?

Honestly, we are going to create a population that needs constant stimulus...and I have read a few articles linking this information overload to negative consequences on health.

Posted via CB10

Good idea. A few minutes or an hour spend without radiation around you. Especially if you live in a beautiful, all-year- summer place like Far North Queensland. When working out, I seek to immerse myself in nature, not tech. That alone can be a strong motivator.

Might give it a shot with these gadgets once tech has a bit more evolved.

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "