Wearable fitness trackers become all the rage

Jan. 02, 2014 @ 04:23 PM

They look like watches or wristbands, but they’re revolutionizing the fitness industry.
Wearable fitness trackers — high-tech devices that help exercisers keep track of such fitness-oriented data as the number of steps walked, the number of miles ridden on a bike, and so on — were one of the hottest-selling fitness products during the recent Christmas shopping season, according to retailers.
Rodney Simpson, coordinator of The Fitness Center at High Point Regional Health System, said he’s seen a significant uptick in the number of individuals incorporating wearable fitness trackers as part of their plans to get or stay in shape.
“A lot of times people need something to help them become more accountable,” he said. “There’s enough research out there showing that when people have a sense of awareness, that’s going to help them stay motivated — especially if they’re seeing progress — so these tools can serve as great reinforcement.”
The devices can be especially helpful to those individuals who have made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape, but may need some help sticking with it, Simpson said.
“So many people get started in January — they get motivated, they set their goals — and then by March or April their enthusiasm has waned a bit,” he said. “These devices are going to help with compliance — they can be the trick that’s going to keep people on track.”
The devices being sold today — which can be worn as a wristband and sell under such brand names as Fitbit Force, FitBug Orb, Jawbone UP and Nike Fuel Band — are far more sophisticated, and thus more accurate, than the simple pedometers of old.
“Now they’re even measuring the quality of your sleep and the measure of your stress,” Simpson said. “There’s so much more than calories burned, steps taken and heart rate. They have so much information impacting your overall health and well-being.”
Moreover, the technology is relatively easy to figure out.
“A lot of people will say ‘I don’t understand how to use the technology,’ but it’s gotten to where it’s fairly simple now,” Simpson said.
The wireless devices can automatically sync to your smartphone and computer, for example.
In addition to wearable fitness trackers, many individuals are using technology to keep track of calories and other nutritional information.
Caroline Corpening, for example, uses an application called MyNetDiary that she downloaded to her iPad.
“I had been wanting to lose some weight, and I knew from experiences in the past that the only success I had was counting calories,” the High Point woman said, explaining that the app also keeps track of her sodium and other nutritional information. “It’s been very helpful.”
Consumer interest in purchasing wearable fitness devices in the next 12 months more than quadrupled to 13 percent in 2013, from just three percent in 2012, according to research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Meanwhile, ownership of such devices tripled from 2012 to 2013.
According to the research, the top three reasons people gave for using their wearable fitness devices were motivation (52 percent), monitoring fitness goal progress (47 percent) and monitoring physical activity levels or intensity (46 percent).
“CEA projects that the market for dedicated wearable fitness devices like body monitors and pedometers will continue to expand for the foreseeable future, as more consumers become aware of these devices and an array of new products enter the market,” Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst with the association, said in a statement.
Furthermore, the devices appear to be paying dividends, he added.
“Fitness technology owners indicate they are seeing personal progress in their overall health and/or specific goals, such as losing weight or lowering blood pressure, using their devices as much or even more than they originally expected,” he said. “Not only are these fitness technology products catching on in the marketplace and experiencing strong growth in sales, consumers indicate they are experiencing positive results as well.”
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579

By the numbers

According to research by the Consumer Electronics Asociation:
•Consumer interest in purchasing wearable fitness devices in the next 12 months more than quadrupled to 13 percent in 2013, from just three percent in 2012.
•Ownership of such devices tripled from 2012 to 2013.
•The top three reasons people gave for using their wearable fitness devices were motivation (52 percent), monitoring fitness goal progress (47 percent) and monitoring physical activity levels or intensity (46 percent).