Dr Falko Sniehotta, a psychologist at Aberdeen University says “Knowing what is good for you and wanting to do it, is alone, not sufficient to make sustainable behaviour changes.” There is often a substantial gap between our intentions and our behaviour.
In a world of technological advances in the fitness sector, many people now have a way to track their activity. This may be via a fitness tracking device, for example a Fitbit/Withings/Garmin or it may be via smart phone with an inbuilt activity tracker. These tools can measure your steps, distance, heart rate, sleep and activity levels and then use this information to predict a range of other data metrics, for example, calories burnt.
As a nation, we underestimate how little we move. A 2017 poll of 2,198 adults conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Cancer Research UK, found that on average 52% of UK adults walk a mile a day or less during the week – the equivalent of 2,000 steps – and almost a fifth (17%) walk less than a quarter of a mile. According to research in 2011, one out of every five adults worldwide are physically inactive. In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 2 million deaths per year are caused by physical inactivity.
More and more studies are demonstrating that using activity trackers is an effective way to boost motivation. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The Kaido challenge allows you to track your daily exercise, see improvements, and motivates you to work towards earning points.
So how does activity tracking boost our motivation?
- It allows us to be accountable for ourselves, giving us statistical insights into our bodies and movement, giving us the motivation to make personal changes.
- It shows us how little we do move in certain situations – it’s amazing how few steps we do if we drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home and watch TV. A tracker can be an eye opener into the unknown and give us that boost to make the effort to go for a lunch time/evening walk.
- Trackers give users a visible goal to aim towards each day, for example, 10,000 steps. This helps to motivate us to increase our steps and reach the target. It also allows users to set their own target, depending on fitness levels, which can be increased with time so that people don’t feel de-motivated to start with.
- They can turn exercise into a fun activity and a personal challenge rather than a chore.
- They allow you to challenge your friends, motivating each other to keep moving. The Kaido challenge helps to keep everyone motivated in the workplace.
- Saved data can allow us to look back and track our improvements and progress even when we are not seeing instant results.
- Studies have found that wearables help people lose weight as well as increase fitness levels.
- Allowing us to monitor our own heart rate can help us to notice what affects it each day and see if it comes down after a few weeks of exercise.
- It creates a visible feel good factor of achieving goals – some trackers offer badges for reaching certain goal posts and the Kaido challenge has a competitive points system to work towards.
- Some trackers measure VO2 Max (a measurement of how well your body uses oxygen when you’re exercising) which is a great way to look at your cardiovascular fitness level and see how it improves after increasing exercise over a couple of weeks.
- Fitness trackers offering encouraging features like Fitbit’s “Reminders to Move” are great motivational tools to help us move every hour and stand up and stretch, making you feel bad if you don’t.
Statistics show that approximately 50% of those who begin a fitness program will drop it within 6 months, however research has found that activity tracking devices encourage adherence to increasing fitness and physical activities for their users. Seeing actual daily stats about ourselves is a way for us to be more in tune with our bodies and we can take responsibility for how much we do each day.
Some trackers also monitor sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep is vital to our health in reducing the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes. Having an activity tracker with a built in sleep monitor can measure the length and quality of your sleep. Keeping track of restless nights could be a way of working out what disturbs your sleep. It also enables you to see how well you sleep after a day of exercising.
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Forbes 2018 https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeslacouncil/2018/09/07/the-benefits-of-fitness-and-activity-trackers-in-the-workplace/
Shuger SL, et al. (2011) Electronic feedback in a diet- and physical activity-based lifestyle intervention for weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21592351
Symon M, McGraw K (2018) 5 Ways Fitness Trackers Make your Life Better
How do fitness trackers make your life better? Available at: https://www.imore.com/5-ways-fitness-trackers-make-your-life-better
World Health Organization. (2002). Physical inactivity a leading cause of disease and disability, warns WHO. Available at: who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/release23/en/