Fri. Dec 6th, 2019

How college students can use their fitness trackers more effectively

By Eli Hughes —

As of 2019, there are approximately 56.7 million people in the U.S. who wear smartwatches and fitness trackers, many using them for the latter function.

According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Medicinethere isn’t evidence that correlates lower cholesterol or lower blood pressure to fitness tracker use. Only one of the six studies showed a correlation with weight loss. However, this doesn’t mean these devices aren’t useful to some people. 

The studies determined that fitness trackers were useful in improving the health of adults living with type two diabetes. Some college students reported finding them helpful, but not necessarily for the reasons tested in the studies. 

University of Louisville Health offered tips for those using the devices such as sharing the data collected with one’s doctor or nutritionist. This allows them to help people improve results and effectively use their fitness tracking devices.

Junior Aiden Strivers has been wearing a Fitbit for four years. Strivers uses it to count his steps and monitor his sleep. He says wearing a Fitbit motivates him to a certain extent, but once he reaches the standard 10,000 steps goal, that motivation goes away.

Strivers believes he gets more benefit out of the sleep function because he likes being able to look at the data and see how much quality sleep he gets. “I would say it has benefitted me overall,” Strivers said. He noted how it has positively impacted his mental health and made him feel healthier.

Junior Hannah Winner has been wearing a Fitbit for almost a year now. Much like Strivers, she uses it to count steps, calculate her heartbeat during workouts, monitor sleep and track her food. She was already an active and health-conscious person before she got her Fitbit, but she says her device motivates her to walk instead of drive somewhere within walking distance.

Winner said the food tracker has been the most helpful. She uses it to be aware of the nutritional value of her foods and to remind her to practice healthy eating habits.  

She says she would recommend it based on the person, and what their specific health goals are. “I think for people who aren’t very active it would be very worth it, and overall if you are active and want to understand more about your overall health.”

Dr. Martin Hueker, an emergency physician with U of L Health, advises that if you plan to use a fitness tracker, you might find it helpful but don’t go into it with big expectations about the device changing your life. For people who don’t want to buy a fitness tracker, Dr. Hueker made suggestions for other ways to stay motivated.

“It’s good to develop stackable habits. Lay out your gym clothes the night before so it’s easier to get in the habit of going to the gym the next day,” said Dr. Hueker. “It’s also good to hang out with people with the same goals.”

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