“April showers bring May flowers,” as well as warmer weather and the desire to be outdoors enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine!
May is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity in maintaining health. This gives us all the more reason to work on getting ourselves into better physical shape and improving our health. Are there things out there that can help motivate us and perhaps make it easier for us? What about all those fitness trackers?
Fitbit, Garmin, Vivosmart, Withings, Misfit, and now even smart watches are all wearable devices than can help us make this year’s National Fitness Month one of our better ones! Most fitness trackers are basically small, sophisticated pedometers. They are paired with our iPhone, Smart phone or computer. They tell us how many steps we have taken and/or how much activity we have achieved in a day. Many can automatically recognize a walk, run, or a bike ride. Some models can even be worn while swimming if that is your activity of choice. Some have heart rate monitors and can tell us about our exercise heart rate zones as well as comment on our quality and quantity of sleep.
But are they truly helpful? Most research says yes. They are particularly helpful for making us aware of our current level of activity, helping us set goals for increasing activity, helping us set weight goals (loss, gain, or maintenance), reminding us to get up and move, making us aware of what we eat, and making fitness fun! Most will even let you challenge others if you like.
Fitness trackers have created something experts are calling the “game-ification of fitness.” Simple rewards such as turning a small goal green lets us feel accomplished when we meet this daily goal. Bigger rewards such as special badges make reaching our more difficult, long- term goals more special. Postings on the internet compared fitness trackers to the Tomagotchis of years past. Remember these? Virtual pet owners were responsible for keeping their virtual pet alive and healthy. It needed fed, exercised, and a good night’s sleep in order to be happy and healthy. The post said with today’s fitness trackers, the silly pets we have to keep alive and healthy are ourselves!
While humorous, what this post is saying is actually positive and fits right in with National Physical Fitness month. Let’s keep ourselves alive and healthy! So if you have a fitness tracker or are thinking about purchasing one, May, with its emphasis on National Physical Fitness, would be the perfect month to put them back on or try them out! Regardless of your exercise or sport of choice, these new-fangled Tomagotchis can help us meet our fitness and health goals.
Remember: Before starting any exercise or diet program, always consult your physician.
~ Written by Karen Morton, SBL Clinical Dietitian