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Tech of the month: Fitness Trackers



Too much sitting increases the risk of premature death and ailments, study after study finds. American adults spend 6.4 hours a day according to a recent study, including watching TV and video and using computers. Adults 65 years and older tended to sit even longer. Physical activity can weaken or eliminate that risk; to weaken, you need 2.5 hours a week; to cancel the risk, 5 hours.

Still need motivation? How about treating yourself to a fitness tracker?

Senior Planet shopped around and consulted Ted Vickey, PhD, senior fitness technology consultant at the American Council on Exercise, for advice on options and finding and using a tracker that works for you.

First a few options, from very low-tech to bells and whistles:

  • Pedometer. This option does not require family member begging to help you find out. Go to https://www.pedometersusa.com The day we were there, a hip $ 8 model was discounted to $ 2.89. Put it on your belt, you're in business. Basic information, but simple.
  • Dual telephone for smartphones. This built-in, free feature had been on my iPhone for a while and was following me secretly before my son pointed it out to me. On my model, the & # 39; Health & # 39; icon says with a red heart. It follows walking and walking distance, steps and climbed flights. There is a medical ID where you can state age, weight, height, emergency contacts, medical conditions and your medication. It motivates me. If your phone's battery runs out, the tracker will.
  • Fitbit Charge 3. This appeared on several of those technical lists, such as & # 39; The best fitness trackers for 201
    9 & # 39 ;. One of many Fitbit products, the MSRP is around $ 150, but the sale has brought that to $ 120 or so. Fitbit devices are connected to your Fitbit account on your phone, tablet or computer. This model not only has ravens for following steps, but also for 24/7 heart rate measurement, water resistance and a battery life of up to 7 days. You can set goals, such as a 2-mile walk, and you can see active minutes, calories burned, and sleep information. Go to the Fitbit store for more information about this and other models. Pricey, but some users become, um, fanatics.
  • Smart Phone Apps. Ted Vickey often suggests apps for smartphones, easy to download and often free. Go to My Fitness Pal and shop around – do you want to map a run, a walk or a ride? That's just 3 of the many options. If you are bored, you can try another one.
  • Apple Watch. This is Ted Vickey's choice, although he jokes that "The Fitbit does fitness; the Apple Watch [with its myriad features] happens to do fitness." It is an investment (the 4 series costs around $ 400), but has numerous of functions and, well, shouts "success" because almost everyone knows it is expensive. The Apple Watch 4 series monitors heart rate and training details, lets you set goals and choose a target pace (you get a soft tap to tell you if you've achieved them).

Tips from Ted

Consider Ted Vickey's tips before you buy. He recently founded his father, Fred Vickey, 83, with a Fitbit, and he loves it.

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

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

If you are just starting to get active, or if you are taking a break from physical activity, do not try to beat yourself up steps that you may have heard is the daily goal. Take it easy. Watch your initial effort – say 3000 steps per day. The next week strive for 10% more. That will probably keep you motivated, not limping to the bank. The step goal of 10K is long distance.

Make sure the device meets your needs and lifestyle. For example: "if you are a swimmer, make sure it is watertight." Look at the battery life of the device to see if it is good enough to meet your needs and not to frustrate you.

Your turn. Take part in our mini-survey.

  • Are you using a fitness tracker?
  • Does this make you move more?
  • How are the technological challenges solved?
  • What are the pros and cons?

Photo of Fred Vickey by Tim Vickey

Note: May 29 is the national senior health and fitness day! View the Senior Planet calendar for our fitness and exercise activities. For more information, call 646-590-0615.


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