Ages with Grace Series: Fitness Trackers and Smart Watches

While much of the aging process is out of our hands, prioritizing our health is one way we can take some control. While “fitness” looks different for everyone, it’s a key to overall health. If you’re already an active senior, using a fitness tracker or smart watch can be a great tool to track fitness goals and inspire achievement. If you’re not yet active but would like to be, talk with your doctor about creating a fitness plan and how a wearable device might help.

The line between fitness tracker and smart watch is blurring with time, but a fitness tracker is typically a wearable device that tracks an activity (usually steps) and provides other fitness-related data. A smart watch, on the other hand, can measure effort for a variety of activities and provides more detailed health information and performs numerous other functions unrelated to fitness. Choosing between a fitness tracker and a smart watch comes down to what features you want and your appetite for technology.

A basic fitness tracker model can be easier to learn and use.

At one end of the spectrum is the basic fitness tracker. These can be a useful tool for active seniors. For many, the challenge of meeting a daily steps goal can be just the motivation needed to keep active. Fitness trackers that show progress toward a daily goal can inspire that one last walk around the block in the afternoon to achieve the daily goal. Even the simplest models can be set with gentle reminders to get up and move at regular intervals. Many basic models include heart rate tracking, which can provide valuable feedback for self-monitoring as well information to share with your health care team. Sleep monitoring is another basic feature that can also provide valuable feedback.

If technology is new to you, a basic fitness tracker is a great place to start. The cost will be lower, and these devices tend to be simpler to use. If you enjoy using the tracker and find you’d like more health-related data and additional features, you can explore an upgrade and know more about what capabilities you want in your next wearable.

Smart watches offer a wealth of health information; some models will even call for help.

At the other end of the spectrum is the smart watch. A smart watch can be a little more complicated to use, but in addition to tracking a variety of different activities, it provides a lot more detailed information that you may find helpful. So, if you’re already comfortable using technology or you’re eager to learn, you may want to jump right in with a smart watch. 

A smart watch will track steps as well as other activities such as yoga, strength training, swimming, and cycling. Because they measure heart rate, a smart watch can calculate your workout effort so you can be sure you’re getting to and staying in your target range. Some smartwatches can calculate blood oxygen levels and VO2, which can be important information to track. Some smart watches can even calculate electrocardiogram results to alert the wearer to possible atrial fibrillation.  

Perhaps you’ve seen the commercial for Apple Watch® that entails a forest scene and Siri’s voice communicating a possible fall and the wearer’s geo-coordinates to emergency services. If this kind of safety feature is important to you, then a smart watch with cell service will be of interest.

Additional features you may find beneficial.

A waterproof wearable adds flexibility.

For an avid swimmer or paddler, selecting a water-friendly device is key. This also holds true for someone who wants the simplicity of wearing the device 24/7 without having to remember to put it back on after a shower. 

A Wi-Fi connection allows friendly competition.

Most fitness trackers and smart watches are Wi-Fi enabled and can send health information to a smart phone. Another benefit to the Wi-Fi connection is that this allows users to share daily fitness goal results. This can be a great way to check in on friends and family and even spur on a little friendly competition. 

Next steps.

If you’re inspired to start tracking your fitness with a wearable device, make a list of what features you’d like and consider your appetite for learning new technology. This will help inform your decision of which wearable device to buy.

Of note: you may be comfortable using new technology but struggle with set up. This can be an amazing opportunity to build family connections or to encourage community outreach. Kids have grown up with technology and are often a great resource for technology help. If you have grandchildren nearby or a friendly neighbor, you may have built-in help. If not, community centers, churches, and schools often offer technology tutorials, creating a space for teens and seniors to work together.

Keeping fit is one way we can contribute to aging with grace. Ensuring our affairs are in order—from finances to healthcare directives to estate planning—is another. Wilson Law PLC is here to help you ensure that your affairs are in order. Call us today at 866-603-5976 to set up your complimentary meeting to discuss your goals and concerns or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you to schedule a meeting so we can get to know each other.