Fitness Trackers And What It’s Used For


 

Over the past few years, fitness trackers have evolved from a mere pedometer (device that counts your steps) into a basic fitness partner for the average person. I have yet to see a professional athlete use one of these during a race or while training, however that may yet change.

A fitness tracker, as the name implies, tracks your daily physical activities and some even track your heart-rate. Knowing how many steps you’ve actually taken in a day, how long you’ve slept and how much time you’ve spent on exercising is great. However, most people I know who own a fitness tracker only look at their daily readings and the time. Just because you’ve join a gym and you wear an expensive fitness tracker, doesn’t mean squat if you are not improving on your actual fitness.

A fitness tracker only starts to be useful when you start to look at you activities thru the weeks. See how you have actually performed in comparison to the previous week would motivate the average person to gear up and do better. As you improve, you can gradually increase or intensify your physical activities; from walking 10,000 steps a week to 6,000 steps in a day, then going into 20 minutes jogs and stepping it up to 40 minutes runs 6 weeks later. That is what a fitness tracker is supposed to do for you.

How Should You Use It?

Each fitness tracker have many features and some more than others. There is the pedometer, the calories counter, sleep tracker, heart-rate monitor, call and message notifications, reminders, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There are just too many to go thru all of them. So, let’s talk about the more common and useful features in fitness trackers.

Fitness-tracker-wristThe Pedometer

This is a basic step counter. It is generally assumed that you need to take 10,000 steps a day in order to stay fit. This is pure bollocks if you already have other physical activities. The pedometer however, is a good way to look at how much time you would rather spend walking than taking the car out. It is a good way to stay fit and looking at your daily steps can actually guide you in that direction. All you need to do is ensure that your weekly average increases each and every week. Now at this point, I have to bring to your attention the weakness in this activity. Just counting your steps is not enough. That is quantity over quality. Just because you took 8,000 steps today, doesn’t mean much if you we doing it in high heels or sandals. You could easily take 500 to 1000 steps while browsing thru a clothing store and trying on dresses. Firstly, there is no prolonged increase heart-rate and no actual physical effort. This means that that 1,000 steps is as useful as a pair of flippers is to your car. Walking 10,000 steps in high heels or sandals is also counterproductive to your overall health.

Sleep Tracker

I don’t know about you, but I actually know how much sleep I do or do not get. That being said, some people do need to look at the figures to realise that they haven’t been sleep much, or as in most cases, sleeping way too much. You don’t have to get 8 hours sleep each day but you do need your rest. Some people work efficiently with 6 hours sleep while others need the full 8 hours. Whatever the case, your body will tell you if you have had too much or too little sleep. Too much sleep and you will constantly feel tired and lethargic. Too little sleep also have the same symptoms but it also makes healing and recovery difficult for your body.

Calories Tracker

This one is purely useless unless you are training for something. If you are fat, overweight or obese, you need to cut back on your food. If you are slim, slender or skinny, you just have to watch what you eat and not how much of it. Now here is another problem in today’s society. I have heard a 156 cm tall lady weighing at 44 kg saying, “I need to lose weight”. In case you can’t picture it, that is a skinny woman saying that.

Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) and see where you actually are in terms of body weight. It is not an accurate method but it is a good guide if you are not physically active. If your BMI is 25 and over, you need to start exercising and controlling how much you eat. If it’s under 18 you need to build muscles and eat properly. It is that simple.

Visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm to check your BMI.

Targets

This is a really good feature for you lazy bums. Fitness trackers generally can set targets for you to achieve in order to stay relatively fit. Achieve those targets and you will see some improvements in your fitness. As your fitness improves further you can adjust those targets for higher goals. I use this a lot.

Heart-Rate Monitor

HR

I am surprised to discover that many are yet unaware of heart-rate monitors and how to use them for training. I suppose that’s ignorance on my part, not realising how fitness trackers have come into the market promoting heart-rate monitoring without explaining how it can help a person to improve their fitness levels.

In order to get the most out of this you need to understand Training Zones and maximum heart-rate (MaxHR). I’ll explain this further in a future article. For now, I’ll just say that the average person should be have a resting heart-rate of around 70-80 beats per minute. When you exercise, your heart-rate should be around 120 to 130 for a period of 20 to 40 minutes for that workout to be effective. If you exercise in this heart-rate zone twice to three times a week, you will see improvements in your fitness levels within the first two to three weeks.

Call & Message Notifications

Do you really need this? Seriously?

Is this the reason you spent RM1,000 on a fancy fitness tracker?

If your answer is “yes”, then what you need is not a fitness tracker but a kick in the buttocks. If it is too much of a hassle to just pick up your mobile device and actually go thru your messages and such, then you are obviously a very lazy person. What you really need is a personal assistant who can not only go thru your messages and screen your calls but he/she could also reply for you.

For your information this feature is there to make your life easier when you are exercising and may not want to stop to check if your friend is buying the red top or the green one. People who are serious about their health and fitness, prioritise during a workout. They don’t chase Pokémons on their runs. They just run.

Conclusion

I don’t believe that a fitness tracker is as accurate as their more reliable counterparts but that being said, fitness trackers can be a great fitness training buddy for the average person. Unfortunately, the fitness tracker seems more of a fashion statement than anything else. Get a basic fitness tracker to help you achieve a better fitness level. Keep constant track of your activities on a weekly basis and improve on it. However, if you are already fit as a fiddle, then maybe you might want to look into a proper heart-rate monitor or a more sport specific device.

Bring Out The Sexy You

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This month we have a series of poster / wallpapers that hopefully would encourage you to work that body of yours to find that sexiness that is already inside of you.

Stay Fit. Stay Sexy. Fit is Sexy.

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How To Choose Running Shoes


Are you planing to buy a pair of running shoes sometime in the near future?
Whether you are buying it to add on to your collection of underutilized footwear or it is your first pair in several decades; choosing a pair of shoes today can be more difficult than reading the technical specs of the space shuttle. Many would simply walk into a Nike or adidas ‘concept’ store and pick an appealing looking pair from their selection of running shoes. If the store clerk slept through the morning briefing, he will just point you to every sport shoes in the store that aren’t soccer shoes and hope that you pick the latest arrivals of cool-looking-trendy shoes. Seriously. Picking out a pair of running shoes is not that simple. You will need to consider several things as you pick your shoes from the line-up.

Why Running Shoes?
This is a question I have been asked many times. There are shoes, and then there are SHOES. I have noticed a difference in the way a runner pick a pair of shoes as compared to non-runners. A runner would first scrutinize the sole of the shoe. This is because it will tell him or her how this shoe will perform and if it there are added benefits. Non-runners, on the other hand look at colours and design first. They almost never bother to look underneath.
Running shoes are designed to help you run more efficiently. A any good pair of running shoes will reduce impact, adjust stride, provide necessary grip and gives you that needed lift-off in each step. More importantly though, running shoes reduces the chances of injuries in the process of running.

Type of Running Shoe
The first thing you need to decide on is what type of running you are planning to do. Are you planning to on roads or trails? Regular running shoes have lower traction as compare to trail running or hiking shoes. It is not unusual for a runner to have both as they work different muscles. My Reebok Hosscat has a little more grip than my Brooks Adrenaline. As such I prefer to use the Brooks when I run on tarmac but the Reebok gives me more stability on pavements especially after a little rain.

What is your foot type?
There are three basic foot types and this is determined by how high you foot arc is. To find out, you just need to conduct the Wet Test. Get a small sheet of brown paper or a shopping paper bag. You can also use piece of plain coloured cloth, preferably the type that turns darker when wet. You will need a small shallow pan or tray that you foot can fit into. Pour enough water into the tray to wet the bottom of your foot. Place the tray and the paper in a walking line two steps apart. Now walk forward and step into the tray of water, that same foot will then land on the paper and leave a footprint. Take a picture of that foot print. Your footprint should correspond to one of these images; that will be your foot type.

Some shoes are designed to support the high arches, others support the low arches and then you have neutral shoes. A professional will be able to tell you which type of shoes will suit your feet for this instance.

Pronation
Pronation refers to the rotation of your foot from when your feet strike the ground until it pushes off. Look at an old pair of running shoes (if you have one); notice where the soles wore off the most and that would be a good indicator of what your running motion is like. A similar method is to observe the wear patterns on your socks. An Underpronator’s foot rolls on the outer sides of the shoes and pushes off with the smaller toes. An overpronator spends most of the time rolling inwards and as such will push off with their larger toes. Normal pronation is when your foot rolls in only slightly and pushes off almost evenly on your toes. The curves and patterns on the soles corrects your pronation so that you have a lower chance of injury. A professional running store will get you on a treadmill and analyse your motion mechanics.

Foot Strike
If you have been scouting around, you might have come across the Vibram Five Fingers. These shoes wear like gloves on your feet and has no cushioning. They may look cool and many will vouch for the benefits that it provides. If you have not run or worse off, not exercised for a great many years; you may want to get a pair of shoes that has a decent amount of cushion, however more cushion is not necessarily better. How your foot strikes the ground will determine how much cushioning you might need. Generally, someone with a larger sized body would also need more cushioning. It depends on how you strike the ground when you run. If you land hard on your heels, you will need a pair of shoes with a lot of cushioning on the rear sole such as the Asic GEL-Nimbus series or the New Balance 890. If you generally land more midfoot then then cushions won’t be such a big deal. Try a few and you will understand what I’m talking about.

Comfort and Fit
I would say that comfort is one of the most important criteria in shoe selection. It is very important that you feel comfortable in the shoes you pick. Nice designs and colours won’t help you if you are running for an hour in those shoes. When trying out shoes, adjust the laces properly and don’t be shy to run around the store in them.
The shoes must not be tight nor should it have too much room. The general rule is to leave about a quarter of an inch space between your longest toe and the wall of the shoe. What I liked most about Brooks is that they also fit the width of your feet. Brooks not only come in the regular sizing, they also come in wide, medium and narrow shoe width.


Brand
There are so many brands to choose from and I know that most of you will be looking at adidas, Nikes, Pumas and the likes. Other running favourites are Asics, Brooks, Etonic, Mizuno, New Balance, Saucony, K-Swiss and Zoot. You may not find some of these at regular footwear stores or malls so you may have to scout sporting supply stores such as RSH or Sports Direct. I would highly recommend you visit a specialty running outlet. Two prominent running specialist in the Klang Valley are Athlete’s Circle at Jaya One and Running Lab at Tropicana City. These outlets can assist you in pick out a proper pair of running shoes.

Budget
This question was probably lingering at the tip of your lips from the beginning of this article. How much should you spend on a pair of running shoes. The top of the line shoes for any brand will set you back about RM500 (US$120). If you are patient, you could fetch a pretty great pair for around RM300 plus (I did). If you are on a budget, you can get an off-season model for about RM250. I have seen the 2010 asics Nimbus, asics GT-2160 and Brooks Summons drop under RM200 during sales. Whatever your budget, it wouldn’t hurt to ask the sales clerk to bring out your size for the top range shoes. Try anything with a RM500 or higher price tag on it. If you don’t already know, find out why anyone would pay that much for a pair of running shoes.

The last thing I have to say about choosing your running shoes is take your time. You are going to be wearing them a lot and for long periods of time (I hope), so make sure you really like the shoes before you rush to the counter. Alternatively, you could just buy a budget pair first while you spend time scouting around. Have fun scouting and keep you feet happy..