6 Get-Moving Benefits of a Fitness Tracker You Might Not Have Thought Of

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Eugene Mynzul)

While fitness trackers help count your steps and sometimes make for chic wrist candy, they actually do a lot more than people give them credit for. If you’ve grown bored with yours and thrown it into a junk drawer, the reason might just be that you haven’t used it to its fullest potential. Read on to learn about the cool and not-so-obvious ways you can use your fitness tracker.

You Can Challenge Your Friends And Family

Every activity is more fun when you have the chance to kick butt, including your daily steps. Thanks to fitness apps like inKin, you can challenge your friends and family to workout duels that last a day, a week, or any amount you choose. Or on apps like Pact, you can even make monetary bets to raise the stakes! Not only will it make your workout goals a little more interesting, but it will hold you accountable and get you to move when otherwise you’d prefer to sit on the couch. For example, if you’re falling miserably behind, you might be inspired to take your evening podcast session for a walk around the block (or at least for laps around the coffee table).

It Helps Track Your Sleeping Habits

Even if you’re not an insomniac and fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow, it’s important to know if your body is getting enough rest or if it’s breaking REM cycles throughout the night. Your fitness tracker can help you determine that. It tracks how many hours you’re actually asleep – not just lying in bed, but knocked out sleeping – and because of that you can determine if you should move your alarm times. For example, you might hop into bed at 11 PM and wake up at 7 AM, thinking you got a full eight hours. But your tracker shows you actually didn’t fall asleep until 11:35, meaning you’re actually not getting a full night’s rest. With that info, you can adjust your alarms accordingly.

The Heart Rate Tracker Can Give You Valuable Information

There’s been a lot of debate over whether the heart rate tracker is useful to people outside of a workout, but it can provide some important info if you need it. First of all, if you see your heart rate has been resting for the majority of the day (or even week), it can motivate you to lace up those sneakers after work and get moving – it’s another touch to stay more active. And outside of the exercise realm, it can also help track other goals. For example, if you’re working on anxiety or stress using coping techniques, you can see if they actually work to lower your heart rate. You can also use it to see if your everyday fitness tweaks are actually doing anything – like taking the stairs rather than the escalator, or walking to work instead of taking a bus.

(Image credit: Zombies, Run!)

You Can Make Sweating More Fun With Gamification Apps

Achieving a goal is always a little sweeter when there’s a reward involved. That’s where gamification apps step in – apps like Nexercise offer points, level-ups, and achievements (among other things) every time you hit a goal, and a lot of them let you share those achievements with your community – so plenty of bragging rights are involved there. Other apps take it even further and create an actual game around your workout. For example, “Zombies, Run” is a running app that creates a story that has you running for your life. “The Walk” is a techno-thriller story that helps you reach your 10,000 step goal by putting you on the run. And “Superhero Workout” is an action-packed workout that works on your strength and endurance as you save the world. They make the whole “moving” thing so much more fun!

You Can Make Some Money Working Out

Can you imagine if you got paid to work out? Well with apps like Nexercise and Healthy Wage, you can! Apps like Nexercise give you points for the more you exercise, but instead of just leaving it as a symbolic token, those points can then be cashed in for gift cards at places like Sephora and Home Depot. That would definitely motivate people to fall into a couple of squats. Meanwhile, with Healthy Wage you can bet on yourself. You give yourself a goal you need to hit in an allotted amount of time, and place a monetary bet on yourself. If you hit it, you win money. If you don’t, you lose your stake.

It Motivates You With Personal Accountability Through Social Syncing

It’s a lot more motivating to keep sweating if you can not only post your progress to your friends and followers, but also see what amazing goals other people are breaking. That’s why “social syncing” apps are such a great add-on to use with your fitness tracker: You can find inspiration through other people’s success. For example, Matchup pairs you head-to-head with users to see who gets the most steps, or lets you compete for the top spot on the leaderboard. RunKeeper lets you post your running routes, compete against strangers and friends, and even nudge people who have been falling behind. Or Endomondo lets you invite friends onto your workout and their messages of encouragement will be read through your headphones in real time. The social aspect makes it a lot more engaging and motivating.

If you’ve lost inspiration with your fitness tracker, see if it’ll make a difference if you use it for some of these purposes. Chances are you’ll get motivated all over again!