It’s hard to avoid the presence of wearable technology these days. Fitness trackers, smart watches, GPS tracking devices, and heart rate monitors, appeal to a broad audience, from those just beginning their fitness journey by counting steps and tracking sleep, to skilled, seasoned athletes who record every single workout to analyze their performance over time.
Wearable Tech as a Fitness Trend
Wearable tech has become ingrained in today’s culture, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. Don’t just take our word for it — listen to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). A late 2018 ACSM survey of more than 2,000 health and fitness pros found that wearable technology was considered to be the most popular fitness trend of 2019. Then, a year later, in late 2019, an ACSM survey of 3,000 health and fitness pros again resulted in wearable tech being the top trend in fitness for the coming year — 2020.
As in the past, the results of this annual survey will help the health and fitness industry make some very important business decisions for future growth and development. These investments can now be based on emerging trends that have been identified by health fitness professionals and not on the latest exercise innovation marketed during late night infomercials on television or the next hottest celebrity endorsing a product.
Tech advances have made it easier than ever for users to collect important health metrics and work with fitness professionals and health care providers to improve exercise efficiency, develop healthy lifestyles, manage chronic diseases and, ultimately, increase quality of life.
Currently, about 14 companies make wearable fitness devices, and all are competing in what they foresee as a very lucrative market. In fact, industry forecaster IHS Technology predicts that sales of activity trackers will increase from $1.8 billion in 2014 to $2.9 billion in 2020.
Benefits of Wearable Fitness Tech
As more research comes to light, we’re entering a phase in the health and performance industries where technology and people have to find ways to work together. When fitness professionals embrace wearables and use data to their advantage, it can improve business and help more people meet their goals.
Predict and Prevent Health Issues
The initial popularity of wearable technology grew due to its convenience, such as reading a text message while in a meeting or tracking the number of steps you have walked for the day. However, as exemplified above, this technology has advanced the way that patients receive health care today. Perhaps the most significant benefit of today’s newest wearable technology is its ability to provide insight to patients about unknown or undetected medical conditions — specifically those for heart health. Because wearable devices constantly collect data on the person that is wearing it, this data can be put to predictive and preventative use.
Almost fifty percent of those who begin a fitness program drop it after six months. These figures are not something to brag about. This usually happens due to lack of motivation. But, thanks to fitness tracking devices, you won’t wander off the path towards your fitness dreams. According to a study, fitness tracking devices stimulate a hefty increase in fitness and physical activities for their wearers. These devices make workouts seem less like chores. Instead, your fitness routine looks like a game or fun activity.
Wearables Make Health Goals More Attainable
For every health and performance goal, there are metrics to measure it. As coaches, we can help clients identify at least one thing on their wearable that’s supporting that goal. For example, say a client wants to lose weight so they can be more active with their kids. You might tell them to pay attention to sleep quantity and quality so they can recover better and make more nutritious decisions. By providing a metric to focus on, you give your client a concrete way to engage with their goal even after leaving 6:30 spin class. Their goal goes from being a grand idea to feeling achievable through smaller, more sustainable goals that will help them achieve their larger goal over time.
Encourages Proactive Healthcare
Currently, the way that most people deal with any potential health issues is reactive. When people start to feel sick, pain, or anything out of the ordinary, they go to see a doctor. They experience a health problem, and they react by going to get it checked out. With wearable tech, there is potential for a more proactive approach to healthcare. Instead of reacting to health issues after they begin causing problems, wearables can be used to take action in the early stages.
Top Wearable Fitness Tech
There’s plenty of wearable tech out there to choose from, and the following are some of the top products. Remember though, the best technology is that which serves its purpose to improve or enhance your life but stays out of your way while doing so.
Fitbit has a number of activity trackers that you can choose from, depending on your personal style (whether you prefer a wristband or belt clip), level of commitment (whether you want a basic step counter or all the bells and whistles), and size of your wallet (whether you want to pay $60 or $250, or somewhere in between). Of course, cheaper models won’t have the more advanced features, such as heart and sleep monitoring or notifications, but all models offer the basics of step counting, distance calculation, and calorie burn calculation.
Garmin Vivofit Activity Tracker
This type of wearable gadget is what most people gravitate toward. The Garmin Vivofit activity tracker (shown) officially launches in the next couple of months. You can track food intake, calories burned, steps, intensity, sleep, and more with this fitness band. As these devices have only been around for a few years, they’re still in their infancy and will only get better from here.
Polar Loop offers a wristband activity tracker in different colors, with the same kind of scoreboard display as the Nike FuelBand. This tracker does what all the others do in terms of recording your steps, runs, and jumps, and showing you calories burned while doing so. It also connects to your smartphone for goal setting, reminders, and sleep monitoring. The app includes an activity guide to provide tips on how to reach your goals. It’s also waterproof for swimming. The Polar Loop is about $110; the optional heart rate sensor will set you back another $80.