Fitness trackers are becoming a common tool for runners, cyclists and even swimmers these days. They produce a wealth of useful information, with metrics tracking everything from UV light to heart rate and skin temperature.
The problem is turning this mass of information into actual results. Here are some handy tips for fitness tracker users who want to get the most out of their new gadgets.
Take Heart From Your Heart Rate Data
Almost all fitness trackers include a heart rate monitor. These devices produce a constant reading of your pulse rate before, during and after exercise, which can be extremely useful in checking your overall fitness.
One great way to use heart rate monitors is to assess your maximum heart rate during exercise. This gives you a baseline to assess how well your cardio-vascular system is working. Run a full-on 5 or 10 kilometer session and chart your peak heart rate. If that starts to come down, you’re on the right track.
If you are focusing on endurance, try to maintain a heart rate of around 70 percent of your maximum. This is the optimum rate for long runs or cycles, allowing you to get the most out of your work-outs.
Alternatively, during short, intense work-outs, try to increase to your maximum for a few reps or minutes of running before taking it back to around 40 or 50 percent. The break in between gives you recovery time, and helps to get through a larger number of sets every time you hit the gym.
Fitness Trackers Never Sleep
Sleep is essential to a strong fitness regime, and modern fitness trackers can help you to optimize your sleep. For one thing, they can inform you precisely how much sleep you are getting and log the data every night in easy to read tables.
If you are consistently failing to sleep for 8 hours or more despite exercising regularly, your tracker could point towards other factors such as caffeine and diet that might be having an effect.
Sleep trackers also assess the ‘quality’ of your sleep. That is, whether you are actually achieving a deep sleep or a superficial doze. You can be asleep all night without re-energizing your batteries as effectively as possible, and a good tracker will inform you when your sleep could be sounder.
Burn Calories Effectively
Many people choose to use a fitness tracker to shed some pounds. But when they come to putting their intentions into practice, this turns out to be a lot harder than they expected.
Trackers will provide plenty of data about how many calories you have burned during every work-out. The best recent devices are pretty accurate too. For some people, seeing these numbers rising is the number one motivation to keep on running or cycling.
The best way to make the most of this data is by linking calorie burning to your social networks. If you are in an exercise group, everyone can share their stats and achievements. Some devices allow you to link your work-out data directly to smartphones and social networking sites, and this is a great way to create a community of people working to the same end.
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Plot The Perfect Running Route
Almost every tracker promises to record the distance you have traveled, but this is much more useful if they also plot your route. Using GPS, modern trackers can upload your precise running route to a dashboard or smartphone and keep track of where you have run, hiked or cycled.
You can easily see which routes burn off the most calories, and which routes motivate you to keep going for longer. If you run in a beauty spot, you might find yourself slowing to admire the views. If you run in town, you might be cutting your run short at different times of day due to traffic. The data from your tracker can provide clues about how to find a route that works for you.
Use Your Fitness Data To Build A Plan
The great thing about the data generated by fitness trackers is its motivational potential. Every work-out is also hard work. It’s not supposed to be easy, and the temptation to quit is ever present. So anything that can keep us focused and keen to succeed is invaluable.
Choose a fitness tracker that provides real-time instant feedback about your performance, so that you can see evidence that you are achieving your goals. And remember to set those goals at an achievable level. Your fitness tracker will usually include schedules and milestones, and good ones will help you to improve, instead of setting unrealistic aims.
Some people also thrive on data. Simply running isn’t enough for them. They need precise information about how far they have run, and what they have achieved. If that sounds like you, then fitness trackers are manna from heaven. The key is to harness the data they produce in a way that works for you.
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