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Tech of the Month: Fitness Trackers



Sitting too much increases the risk of premature death and disease, studying after studies. US adults sit 6.4 hours a day, a new study found, including television and video viewing and computer use. Adults aged 65 and over tended to sit even longer. Physical activity can weaken or eliminate that risk. to weaken, you need 2.5 hours a week; to dry out the risk, 5 hours.

Still need motivation? How do you deal with treating yourself with a fitness tracker?

Senior Planet consulted and consulted Ted Vickey, PhD, senior fitness technology advisor at the American Council on Exercise, for advice on options and how to find and use a tracker that works for you.

First, some options, from very low-tech to watches-and-whistles:

  • Pedometer. This option requires no one asking for family members to help you figure it out. Go to https://www.pedometersusa.com The day we visited had a nice $ 8 model discounted at $ 2.89. Touch it on your belt, you're in business. Basic info, but simple.
  • Smart phone double duty. This built-in feature, at no extra cost, was on my iPhone for quite some time, tracked me traceably before my son pointed it out to me. On my model, the icon "Health" says with a red heart. It tracks walking, steps and flights climbed. There is a medical ID where you can list age, weight, height, emergency contacts, medical conditions and your medications. It justifies me. If your phone battery dies, then the tracker does.
  • Fitbit Charge 3. This appeared on several of the techy lists as "The best fitness trackers for 201
    9." One of many Fitbit products, its MSRP is about $ 150, but sales have taken it down to $ 120 or so. Fitbit devices are connected to your Fitbit account on your phone, tablet or computer. This model got raves not only for tracking but 24/7 heart rate tracking, water resistance and up to 7 days battery life. You can set goals – a 2-mile walk, for example, and you can see active minutes, burn calories and sleep information. Go to the Fitbit store for more information on this and other models. Pricey, but some users become, um, fanatics.
  • Smart Phone Apps. Ted Vickey often suggests apps for smart phones, easily downloadable and often free. Go to My Fitness Pal and shop around – do you want to chart a run, go for a walk? There are only 3 of many options. If you get bored, try another one.
  • Apple Watch. This is Ted Vickey's choice, though he jokes that "Fitbit makes the fitness Apple Watch [with its myriad features] happen to do fitness." It's an investment (the 4 series is about $ 400), but has many features and screams "success" because everyone knows it's expensive. The Apple Watch 4 Series monitors heart rate and exercise details, allows you to set targets and select a metric (you get a light crane that tells you if you've reached it).

Ted's Tips

Before buying, consider Ted Vickey's tips. He recently put his dad, Fred Vickey, 83, with a Fitbit, and he loves it.

"You don't have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars," Vickey says. Options to track your activity area, as our list shows, from a simple, very low-tech pedometer to the nice Apple Watch.

"People complain about the accuracy is wrong [from device to device]," he says. He says to them: "We are not trying to cure cancer. For example, if your Fitbit is off by 10%, it is off by 10% every day." Don't worry if your tracker is off. Focus on the activity. "You either move or you are not," he says.

If you are just starting to get active, or if you have taken a break from physical activity, do not turn up to try to get into 10,000 steps you may have heard is the daily goal. Easy. Note your first bet – say 3000 steps a day. Next week, aim for 10% more. It will probably keep you motivated, not gluing to the couch. The 10K target is far-reaching.

Be sure the unit fits your needs and lifestyle. For example, "if you're a swimmer, make sure it's waterproof." Look at the battery life to see if it is good enough to meet your needs and not frustrate you.

Your turn.

  • What do you do to overcome some technical challenges?
  • What are upsides and downsides?
  • Photo by Fred Vickey by Ted Vickey

    Note! May 29 is National Senior Health and Fitness Day! Be sure to check out the Senior Planet calendar for our training and exercise. For more information, call 646-590-0615.


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