Cycling aimlessly gets old at some point. You want to know if you are making progress and the areas that need improvement. Fitness trackers help you monitor your workouts. For some time, these activity trackers only counted steps, leaving out cyclists. Today, you can get one that tracks almost everything including your heart rate.
Fitness trackers may be small in size but choosing one is not easy. Some have basic capabilities while others are quite advanced.
So, how do you choose the right activity tracker for your needs?
Before you decide what features are useful and how much you will spend, here is something you should know.
Fitness Trackers Vs Smartwatches
After reading what fitness trackers can do, you may get confused because they sound more like smartwatches.
Well, the two are becoming more similar with each advancement. A fitness tracker is designed purposely to track your health and fitness—as you can guess from the name. It lets you gather your training data.
A smartwatch, on the other hand, is a watch that has communication capabilities. You can make phone calls and access notifications such as mails and messages. Now, this is just a simple definition. As they become more advanced, their features overlap. Smartwatches, for instance, track fitness as well as your vitals.
Factors Consider When Choosing a Fitness Tracker
a. What Does It Do?
Some fitness trackers are pretty basic. They count calories, distance and sleep. If this is enough for you, go for it.
However, you will want more as a cyclist. Think of how efficient your workouts would be with a tracker that measures cadence. Or one that has GPS and Bluetooth and/or ANT+ capabilities. GPS tracking helps you gather valuable information about your route.
Bluetooth and ANT+ allow for easy sharing of your workout data with your other devices.
When choosing an activity tracker, think about what you would want. Are you content with something basic or would you like an advanced gadget? Note that the more advanced a tracker is, the more expensive it will be.
Speaking of expensive…
It is safe to say that fitness trackers come in all price ranges. Some cost $40 while others are more costly than a few smart trainers. How much are you willing to spend on a wearable?
Before you answer this question, bear in mind that the price determines the features.
For $50 or less, you can get a fitness tracker that measures, hours slept, distance and calories. You will be lucky to get GPS capabilities.
If you decide to cough up $200 or more, you will get a fancier gadget. Many of the trackers in this price range have Bluetooth capabilities and some include phone notifications.
Understand that a higher price also means reliable numbers. It is no secret that fitness trackers are not the best when it comes to accuracy.
c. Battery Life
In most cases, you will be using your fitness tracker outside where you can’t charge it. You have had your phone battery die before so you know how it feels. When this happens with your activity tracker, you can either interrupt the session or go on and fail to collect data. None of this is good.
Pay attention to the manufacturer’s information about their device’s battery life. But don’t let that be the main determinant. It is true that many trackers have a battery that can go for days before it requires charging. However, just like your phone, this depends on what you are doing with it. Some features conserve power while others will suck the life out of the battery.
It is highly unlikely that you will be using your fitness tracker independently. In addition to tracking and calculating, you want a gadget that is compatible with training apps (including third-party apps) and your other smart devices.
This makes it easier for you to view what you are doing and the progress you are making. The apps come in handy when your device does not start tracking automatically. You should also look into the app that your tracker is compatible with. How is its interface?
e. Extra Features
If you decide to go for an advanced fitness tracker, why not go all out? There is no harm in getting luxury features as long as you are staying within your budget.
Some trackers allow you to listen to the music in your phone or access music streaming services. Others have payment options so you can even leave your phone. These are secondary features that you can be quite useful.
Benefits of a Fitness Tracker
Understanding the advantages that come with having a fitness tracker may better help with your decision.
A fitness tracker lets you know how you are doing. Are you slacking? Are you making progress? Seeing your numbers encourages you to be consistent.
These gadgets can communicate with third-party apps as well. When sharing your workouts with other people, you will want to share something worth bragging about.
Also read: How many Miles should I Bike a day?
Your tracker will show your level of activity. Knowing that you are being monitored—even though you are monitoring yourself—is enough motivation. You don’t want to feel like a loser at the end of the day.
Having a fitness tracker is like having a version of yourself that judges you if you don’t get up and exercise.
3. Customized Fitness Goals
You can now set goals based on where you are in your fitness journey. If you have been inactive for medical or other reasons, you can set small goals to help you get back out there. Someone who has been riding seriously can set more challenging goals for themselves.
With third-party apps and smart trainers, this is going to be convenient.
4. Know Your Health
Depending on the type of gadget you buy, you can keep track of the calories you burn and consume, your sleep, heart rate and more. All these numbers help you know how you are doing health wise and make changes accordingly.
5. Effective Training
This is probably the main reason why many cyclists would buy a fitness tracker. When doing heart zone training or preparing for a big event like a century ride, you need know whether you are doing things properly. The same applies to training for weight loss.
Disadvantages of a Fitness Tracker
Activity trackers cost a lot. They range from $40 to about $500. The more a tracker does, the more expensive it is. Cyclists who don’t want a basic device have to pay a significant amount.
b. Inaccurate Results
There have been so many cases of inaccuracy. You cannot, therefore, depend on the tracker as your main exercise device.
c. Battery Life
Just like your cellphone, the fitness tracker needs to be charged. Sometimes, the battery may die when you are far from home—and in the middle of a session.
A fitness tracker is a great gadget if you are tired of doing the same thing over and over. It offers motivation and accountability. After a while, you may be taking on big races like the cyclists you admire.
Before you spend your money on an activity tracker, make sure you know what it does. Check out its battery and any other extra features. Look for something within your budget too.