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February 10, 2015

Should You Wear an Activity Tracker? Considerations for Older Adults

Once you’re aware of their existence, you’ll start to see them everywhere. They are clipped to the belt of your neighbor, strapped around the wrist of your granddaughter, pinned to the apron of your favorite Starbucks barista. Yes, that’s right – we’re talking about activity trackers.

These little fitness tools are all the rage and with new models coming out constantly, it doesn’t seem like their popularity is dying out anytime soon. Like a pedometer on steroids, activity trackers tell you how many steps you take, miles you walk, stairs you climb, and calories you burn. Most of them can even track how restless you are in your sleep or notify you if you’ve been sedentary for an extended period of time.

The idea behind these trackers is great: by collecting activity data, users can determine if they’re moving enough based on their various health goals.  Despite their popularity, they might not be for everyone. Older adults, here are the top factors you should consider when deciding to purchase an activity tracker.

What Are Your Goals?

Depending on your fitness level, tracking your steps might not be a worthwhile endeavor. For instance, say you’re recovering from surgery or an injury. If that’s the case, walking up and down the hallway might be as big of a fitness victory as you could hope for and you don’t need a device to tell you what you’ve achieved it. On the other hand, if you’re someone who has been interested in building up your activity level and think data could help give you some perspective, an activity tracker might be a great investment.

How Technologically Savvy Are You?

Though activity trackers are fairly intuitive devices, they do require a moderate level of technological understanding. Most have corresponding smart phone apps or websites that collect and display your data. This can be great for the statistic junkie who loves analyzing graphs and progress over time. If you don’t have an interest in the data collection beyond the number of steps you take every day, a more basic pedometer model might suit your needs better.

Is This Something You’ll Use Daily? 

The price point for an activity tracker ranges between $100-150. While this isn’t an unreasonable cost, you still want to make sure that it’s something you have an interest in using every day. If you’re on the fence, make sure you do your research. Check out the different models and determine which features you’re interested in. Ask friends or family members who use trackers about their experience to get a feel for how they work for staying healthy in various lifestyles. 

Regardless of whether you decide to purchase an activity tracker, remember that under all the bells and whistles is one important constant: moving your body is good for you, and you should find a way to do it in a way that you enjoy. 

Want more great ideas for staying healthy? Download our free eBook, “Feed Your Body Right: Nutritional Needs After 50.”



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