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Fitness Band or Pedometer? What’s on Your List?

Nike+ FuelBand, Fitbit® Flex, Jawbone™ UP—these are just a few examples of what the exercise world knows as “fitness bands”.

A fitness band is a tracking device or tool that provides information to the user on total physical activity. The device tracks steps taken, calories burned, miles and some even track sleep (depends on the brand).

These tools help us track exactly how much exercise we’re getting and how much energy we are expending. Fitness bands can help “alleviate the disconnect between feeling like you worked out really hard and the reality that you actually didn’t work that hard,” says Cooper Fitness Center Dallas Sports Dietitian Meridan Zerner.

Consider the fitness band like a scale. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much you weigh or how much weight you’ve lost if you never step on a scale. Sure, fitness equipment in the gym will help you measure distance, calories, steps, etc., but the moment you step off the treadmill or elliptical, the tracking stops.

A fitness band goes wherever you go, tracking every step, every calorie, every mile. We asked Zerner to explain further.

What’s the difference between a fitness band and a pedometer?

A fitness band adds the next level of technology. With the band, you’ll have a profile you can look at every day to track your progress over days, weeks, months and years. Depending on the brand, you may even be able to compare yourself to other people online or in a fitness challenge. With a fitness band, you get a more detailed readout than you would with a pedometer. A pedometer will only tell you how many steps you took, whereas a fitness band will tell you steps, calories burned and may even tell you how much more physical activity you need to do to reach your goal.

What are the benefits of using a fitness band?

Most people struggle with a certain amount of disconnect when it comes to a true measure of their intensity, total effort or amount of mileage accrued. Tools like this help provide a reality check of how much physical activity we’ve done, how much more we need to do and how much it will take to reach our goal or get to the next level. The reality is, sometimes we aren’t working as hard as we think we are working. A fitness band will help keep that reality in check.

Studies on these types of fitness tools have found that people are more successful when they get immediate feedback. They get a sense of how their workout today fits into the big picture and their long-term goals. Fitness bands provide the ability to look at short-term and long-term goals together. Perhaps your long-term goal is to run a six-minute mile. To achieve that end goal, you must first achieve milestones along the way—perhaps starting with an eight-minute mile, chipping away at that time until you reach your goal.

Cooper Fitness Center, Dallas has equipment that measures similar data to a fitness band. Members are given a chip they can insert into any piece of cardio equipment at Cooper Fitness Center. That chip logs into Preva®, software designed to give “a personalized fitness experience that not only entertains, but motivates you to achieve and exceed your fitness goals.”

Which fitness band is best?

Zerner prefers the Fitbit, as it is “more discreet than the Nike Fuelband,” she says. Ultimately, the brand of fitness band you choose depends on your personal preference, what information you want to get from the tool and your budget.

If a fitness band isn’t in your budget, start with a baseline pedometer. Even this will give you “a more accurate mental snapshot of what you are really doing and how far you are really walking to enable you to meet their fitness goals,” says Zerner. “Using the tools in the toolbox—no matter how expensive or inexpensive—can help you reach your goal.”

Tis the holiday season! We’ve also shared Kitchen Gift Gadgets, stayed tuned for more blog posts for gifts that keep on giving.

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  1. December 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm

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