If the latest fitness trends are anything to go by, it looks like Santa’s sleigh will be weighed down by wearable fitness devices this Christmas. New trackers and bands have been released by Fitbit, Misfit and Jawbone – then there are other devices, such as the Apple Watch and Android Wear, that incorporate fitness tracking within their functions.
One of the most telling signs of its popularity is that that wearable technology has claimed the number one spot in the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016: 10th Anniversary Edition.
The results of the annual survey, based on the views of more than 2,800 fitness professionals across the globe, were announced by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)in the November/December 2015 issue of its Health & Fitness Journal. The full article is available for free here.
This is the first year that wearable technology has appeared on the list and it jumped straight to the top,overtakingprevious top trends such as body weight training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
WHAT ARE WEARABLE FITNESS DEVICES AND WHAT ARE THEY USED FOR?
Fitness trackers, smart watches, heart-rate monitors and GPS tracking devices all come under the wearable technology banner.
Wearable technology can be used for a range of fitness-related activities, including:
- Setting fitness goals
- Counting calories burned
- Tracking running mileages
- Measuring average heart rate
- Sleep tracking
(see our blogs on: Food labels: Counting calories and hidden fat, Couch to 5K, The structure and function of the heart and The importance of sleep for exercise recovery and performance).
WHY IS WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY SO POPULAR?
As tech devices are now so central to most people’s lives, it’s no surprise that the fitness industry has jumped on board to offer wearable technology that can give the user immediate feedback and help them achieve their goals.
WHO USES WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY?
While anyone can use them, wearable fitness devices tend to be popular among those who don’t currently spend a lot of time exercising but want to raise their fitness levels – in some cases simply by increasing the number of steps they take each day.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT FITNESS TRACKER FOR YOU?
There are many lists of top trackers available online, which measure wearable technology for a range of elements, including:
- Ease of use
- Accuracy of feedback
- Range of statistics
- Value for money
- Special features
In many cases it’s horses for courses: some trackers are best suited to measuring running; some focus on sleep tracking as their core function; others are aimed at specific sports such as golf or swimming. If you train with a personal trainer or fitness instructor, it’s worth asking their advice before you choose your device.
Prices can range from a few pounds to several hundred, and designs vary from a simple band to the Swarovski Shine at the bling end of the market.
ANY DOWNSIDE TO WEARABLE FITNESS TECHNOLOGY?
Measurements can vary from one piece of kit to another and can depend on other factors like where you wear your tracker and the length of your stride. Smart phone apps can also carry out some of the functions, so you may not need to splash out on a new device.
Also, by using wearable technology some people find themselves focusing on one element of fitness, such as how many steps they’ve taken, rather than an overall picture of health, which should include factors such as diet.
Whatever the case, the number one fitness trend looks set to continue making an impact through 2016.