Off the cuff

So I’ve been considering an activity tracker because I’m a slave to tech trends, but I haven’t indulged yet because I’m frugal. Every time I see someone I know wearing one I chat with them about what they like about theirs. So far I’ve chatted with an iWatch, Jawbone and a few FitBit users. There are so many features to consider. And like the buffet of the internet, it’s important to know what you need in a tracker before being swooned by looks alone, or useless features. Here’s a vague breakdown:

To me, tracking this is not so important. I’ve got a two-year old son who wakes me up at dawn. He generally sleeps the night but with the occasional cough or tussle, I don’t need a device to tell me I’ve been woken up. I also know when I haven’t slept well due to this incredible feature I was born with called fatigue. Still, some individuals might benefit from knowing how many hours of uninterrupted sleep they’re getting each night, especially if taking medications that can influence sleep.

This will definitely be the most important feature for me to track. Before becoming a parent I spent hours each week dedicated to physical activity. Now my fitness is influenced by chasing a toddler or cleaning up after one. Most trackers count walking steps and flights of stairs. Without the use of dedicated gym equipment, I have no idea just how much movement I achieve in a day. This feature is high on my list. If you do more activity in your day-to-day life instead of a gym, this could motivate you!

Count your calories, measure your water intake, balance your diet. All this can be displayed with your fitness activity to see how many calories you’ve consumed and how many you’ve burnt. This alone can sell a wearable device for anyone looking to lose, gain or maintain weight. I’m sure it’s great for diabetes and other blood sugar disorders too. Most trackers are used with a smartphone or webpage information storage tool. It’s really easy to add your daily food diary and see where the bulk of your calories are coming from.

Long gone are the days of pocket watches. While most trackers are worn as wrist watches, I’ve seen a few that are necklace pendants or rings. For the most part, the watch style trackers are sleek and blend in to outfits with little fashion faux-pas. If style is a concern than consider the iWatch, that is easily updated with different coloured bands. It’s also the pricier option, so buyer-beware. With most technologies, function trumps fashion. However you’ll be wearing this device so make sure it’s easy to use and easy on the eyes.

Doctors, pharmacists, caregivers….they all ask for details. Hook yourself up to a tracker and when your medical professional needs more information, hand it over. Need I say more? The data risk is low, since knowing how much you eat, sleep and walk is not really an asset commonly stolen.

After chatting with a few early adopters, the FitBit seems to be the most mainstream. iWatch is for hyper-connected people who think reaching for their iPhones is tedious. Jawbone is for elite athletes who micro-manage fitness details. Which one will you select?

About Jennifer Stern

Blogger, writer, mother, daughter, wife - I'm firmly planted in the sandwich generation. I've spent years writing about technology and how to use it in the business world. Now I'm turning my vocation into passion and writing for a greater audience, those who can most benefit from convenience but who may be tech-shy. Welcome to Digital Seniors!