My HONEST opinion on activity trackers. Are they worth it?

I love receiving questions from you guys and I'm going to answer a question that I got asked by one of my VIP clients. The question was more to get my opinion on something. And that is, what is my opinion on activity trackers?

Activity trackers are having a huge moment right now, such as fitbits. Those things that you wear on your wrist and they apparently track calories burned, sleep and some of them even tell you when you've got a text or an email. 

They're probably going to be able to start tell you how many calories are in food at some point from just taking the picture of them. Maybe even start feeding you. I don't know, they seem to be able to do everything.

And the way the media advertises them makes them sound amazing! 

So, I'm going to go ahead and tell you my opinion on activity trackers.

I, myself, have a polar heart rate monitor. Now, the reason why I have a polar heart rate monitor is just to track my heart rate during a workout to know what heart rate zone I am working within and I also like to see how many calories I burned during a session.

While I'm on the subject of calorie burn, I believe that the only accurate representation of how many calories you've burned is if you're wearing a chest strap.

The Polar HR monitor I have does have a chest strap. So it does actually have access straight to my heartbeat and that is the only way that it's really more accurate representation of how many calories you've burned. 

If it's taking your heart rate through the wrist, as far as I know, the ones on the market at the moment are not an accurate representation of how many calories you actually burning.

Onto my opinion of activity trackers that have all the bells and whistles. I think that they are good for two reasons or two types of people. Other than that, I think that they pretty much just a bit of fun.

Before I explain the two types of people I believe activity trackers can benefit, I want to give you some more advice.

The main things that you can track on them include your calorie burn, step count and your sleep. 

For calorie burn you need a chest strap for this function to be more accurate, as discussed above.

As for sleep, you can download a free app on your phone that can track your sleep.

And steps, if you have an iPhone, there's a health app built in that track your steps and most of us these days don't go anywhere without our phones.

So you can do the main things that these activity trackers do for free. I just saved you £500 or however much they're selling for these days. 

Two people or two reasons that I believe activity trackers are good for:

1. People who are very sedentary, which means that they don't do much exercise or activity. They may be working an office job or sat at a desk all day.

They say that you should aim to get an average of 10,000 steps per day. Having an activity tracker on your wrist that tells you you've only done 6000 steps today, can motivate that person to think, "Ohhh okay then, well I should go for a walk during my lunch break and then again when I get home from work".

So it's awesome for helping more sedentary people who don't really have exercise a part of their daily schedule to get more steps and more activity in to be more active and to burn more calories.

2. Number two is a bit more scientific and geeky, but I do believe that activity trackers or tracking your steps is awesome for when you are in a calorie deficit.

Let me explain..

There are a lot of people out there who are always trying to lose weight and they should be in a mild to moderate calorie deficit to do so. They should also be doing this in a way we're they're able to measure things, whether it's exercise, steps, calories etc. 

If you're in a programme, such as the one that women come to me for to lose weight and tone up, you'll be in a mild to moderate calorie deficit. What happens when you're in a calorie deficit is, your energy expenditure will naturally slow down.

Being able to track your steps is a great way of measuring how many steps you might do when eating at maintenance and therefore have more energy, compared to how many steps you do in a calorie deficit when you have less energy.

You'll be able to highlight a difference in missing steps therefore a decrease in calorie expenditure then you'll be able to do something about it. This can equate to a BIG difference in how many calories you'll burn in a day and how much fat you will lose which you wouldn't have known about otherwise if you hadn't of measured it.

This activity falls under the category of N.E.A.T, which stands for Non Activity Energy Thermogenesis. This is the energy that you expend doing non activity related things such as breathing, digesting food, stepping, fidgeting etc.

You know those people that sit there and tap their foot on the floor, or pace when on the phone? That's all N.E.A.T and when your in a calorie deficit your energy naturally decreases because it's your body's way of saving enough energy for all the bodily functions you require to live and to manage homeostasis. 

Those kinds of (unconscious) activities begin to decrease. You step less, you fidget less, you move less and that decreases your metabolic rate and the calories that you expend.

So having an activity tracker when you're in a calorie deficit is a really interesting way of  measuring and tracking your NEAT just to see how many less steps that you're doing during that time and increasing them when necessary.

So to round up my opinion on activity trackers..

I believe that they are useless for some people and they can be very useful for others :-)

If you have found this helpful, please get in touch with any other questions that I can answer for the next ASK TANYA episode by commenting below or messaging me here.

Tanya x