We have come a long way from the first pedometer designed by Leonardo da Vinci. What used to be a pager-size device which you attached to your reflective belt or waistband has now become a small discreet device which you forget you are wearing. Some are so small, you can attach them to your shoe laces. Then, of course, there are smart watches and bracelets. These activity trackers are basically computers which collect information about your body and its activities. Which device you choose depends on your chosen activity and how intensely you want to monitor your health.
Personal activity trackers can motivate you to do more; to take the stairs rather than the lift, to take the dog for two walks a day instead of one and to generally make you aware of how much time you spend exercising every day. They can not only detect how many steps you have taken but can also tell you how many stairs you have climbed, how many calories you have burned, your heart rate, your temperature, your quality of sleep and allow you to receive text messages. One activity monitor flashes red when you have been inactive for too long and says, “Move”.
For the avid walker or jogger, the smart pedometer is the ideal choice. Some of these activity monitors come with a built in heart rate monitor. This device is perfect for the walker who spends their time on fairly even, flat terrain so that their stride length remains constant. A basis device is useless for hiking in the hills and mountains, as obviously your stride length will vary considerably, as will the energy expended but there are devices out there which with built-in altimeters which can factor in gradients. The basic smart pedometer is also useful for the housewife who wants to know how many steps she actually takes everyday while cleaning, taking the dog for a walk, fetching the kids and doing the shopping.
Triathletes are at the other end of the spectrum, and there are some very fancy devices out there which will complement their reflective gear. Special sports watches and bracelets have been designed for the triathlete which also have GPS tracking and sensors that can measure pace and cadence. Some devices are totally waterproof. Beware of some activity monitors that require you to pay a monthly subscription to access your online activity manager.
Activity trackers do motivate people to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and when synced with your smart phone or computer, you can see at a glance where you need to put in more effort to achieve those goals you have set yourself.