Over the past couple of years, companies like Fitbit, Polar and Garmin have been rapidly growing and even people who wouldn’t class themselves as fitness lovers have been wearing fitness trackers to trace number of steps in a day and overall fitness levels. Colleagues and families I know regularly take on challenges to be the most active over a weekend and I often challenge myself to get the step count or activity % as high as I can. It’s all a competition and a numbers game, I work in a very number heavy job so being able to quantify my activity levels and constantly compete to better myself is very exciting. As a result i’ve been wearing my Polar A360 watch for almost a year now, almost every day! However, it can be incredibly addictive and even unhealthy in some cases to constantly compare your day to day activity in number terms, so I challenged myself to go a week without it…
Working out on the first day was SO weird. I woke up early and threw on my sports gear, as I always do, but it felt really weird not having a watch to tell me the time I was starting and telling me my heart rate throughout. I felt a bit cheated to be honest… I’d got really sweaty with a HIIT session which really burned yet I had nothing that acknowledged it. I used to look down at my watch during work and see that I was almost at my goal for the day, and it was really exciting seeing that my 45 minute workout in the morning burnt 350 calories! Not that I track my ins and outs of calories exactly, but I have a rough idea of what i’m consuming day to day so it’s good to know that overall it’s about even.
Now I couldn’t do any of that.. I spent the entire day looking down for the watch which wasn’t there! I actually felt annoyed in the evening that I couldn’t quantify those extra little walks from throughout the day into a step count. All of this shows how much I really relied on the tracker to reassure me that I was doing ok!
This happened to be a rest day for me – I usually have one rest day at the weekend and one during the week, and the Polar watch is usually my worst enemy on the weekday rest! It points out constantly how little activity I do in my day job and often on those days I come home to have only done around 2000 steps. I end up beating myself up that I didn’t fit in a long walk in the morning or evening, or force myself to add in loads more steps during the day – but this defeats the object of a rest day! Sometimes your body needs total rest to recover from the strains of workouts, especially if you are working hard and that is ok. Yes it is recommended that you should walk 10,000 steps a day but that’s not always going to be feasible and if it will stress you out beyond any benefit you get from walking more then there’s really no point!
Skip forward a week and i’m enjoying the lack of wrist wear! I have started experimenting with my workouts more as i’m not focusing on how high my heart rate would get from each move. I like being able to decide how a workout went based on how I feel rather than how long my heart rate stayed in the cardio zone. Whilst it took a good few days to get past the feeling that I was missing something, I’ve enjoyed exercise so much more without it and don’t really plan to wear it again! They can be so inaccurate at times and it used to really put a downer on my day if the numbers didn’t reflect how hard I worked, but now I can judge that for myself and it feels great.
Do you rely on your fitness tracker?