What Do I Need to Know About Calorie Counters?

Best gadgets for fitness

More than half of people under the age of 30 who exercise, were found by a Life Fitness survey to use their tablet or smartphone while they worked out. These mobile devices offer some great applications for tracking fitness, but wearable health technology is now more accessible than ever. Health tech products are catching on as the latest and greatest way to make workouts more productive. The extensive data that these gadgets collect allows for fitness-minded individuals to get accurate measurements of their health goals, and track their progress to lose weight, or just get into better shape. One of the most useful features in these gadgets is the calorie counter.

Why should I use a calorie counter?

The Mayo Clinic cites that a key component to losing weight is making sure that each day you are taking in an adequate number of calories, or energy from food and drink, to sustain your level of activity as well as basic life functions. When you consume more calories than you burn, that energy gets stored, and contributes to weight gain. Therefore, to lose weight, it is essential to track your progress towards burning more calories than you consume.

How do calorie counter fitness gadgets work?

Calorie counters were first invented less than 40 years ago, but since then they have come a long way. In a medical setting, researchers use metabolic carts, EKGs, and a measurement of oxygen exchange and heart rate to calculate how calories get burned. When you use a fitness gadget, a lot of these features are absent, but several key measurements are still taken. In general, an armband calorie counter will measure heart rate, and will also be able to track your steps. With Bluetooth capability, this data is sent to your smartphone and will be used to calculate the calories that you have burned. Research from San Francisco State University has shown that wrist and arm monitors can accurately track, within 20 calories per hour, how many calories were burned.

Is a watchband calorie counter more or less accurate than an armband?

While higher-end monitors worn on either the arm or the wrist have similar levels of accuracy, there are some features that might give armband monitors an advantage. Some armband monitors have larger sensors that maintain greater contact with the skin, allowing them to track your body temperature, and perspiration in addition to heart rate and steps. Arguably, this could contribute to a more accurate measurement of the calories that you burn. In either case, watchband or armband monitors are both more accurate than monitors that are contained within gym equipment, which are estimated to be off by between 5% and 25%.

Remember that knowing how many calories you take in is just as important as knowing how many that you have burned. Many fitness gadgets allow you to track your food intake, and will then give you a more complete picture of your daily progress towards your goals. Whether you choose an armband or a wristband monitor should be determined by which product has the features you want, and which is most comfortable for you. While calorie counters are incredibly useful, they are not the only features available in wearable fitness technology.

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