Do you have a step tracker or step-tracking app that just sits there, waiting to be used? Or maybe you use it fairly often but don’t get much out of it besides its basic functions. Even if it offers limited functionality, your step tracker has so much more potential than counting how many times you move your feet each day.
Still, the question remains: how do you get more out of your step tracker? What are the possibilities it offers for exercise and insight into your physical activity? It’s not just about your app’s or device’s features, either; it’s about motivating you to be more active. Here are a few ways to put your step tracker to good use:
Whether you’re using a device or an app, the best thing you can do is use it consistently. Don’t take it off or turn it off during the day when you might move. Every step counts, so you’re missing out if you don’t use your device during work hours every time you get up to grab a snack, use the restroom, etc. Don’t just keep it for solid “blocks” of walking time.
Plus, keeping your device on motivates you to live a less sedentary lifestyle. Millions of Americans work while sitting at screens for eight hours a day and don’t get enough exercise, but the knowledge that your step tracker is on will remind you to stand up more often. Even if you hit the gym in the mornings or evenings, taking frequent breaks to move around during the day is much healthier than sitting for too long.
It’s wise to set personal goals to reach and then build upon. Health professionals recommend people take at least 10,000 steps per day, but that might be a lot to start with. Choose a more attainable goal if you need to, such as 6,000 steps per day for a week, and work your way up to 6,500 the next. The more feasible your goal is, the more successful you’ll be, which is encouraging instead of disappointing if you don’t reach it as soon as you’d like.
Don’t set too many overlapping goals, though. If your objective is to develop healthier lifestyle habits, it’s important to recognize that it’s a long-term process instead of an overnight one. Set goals like increasing your step count and getting more sleep before moving on to something more strenuous (like going for three-mile runs in the morning), depending on your current physical ability.
Competition is motivating for many. Is there a walkable 5k you can participate in or a neighborhood walkathon? It doesn’t have to be such an “official” competition, either; it could be fun to get several friends together for a step challenge. You can set your own rules that provides everyone with the motivation they need. Participants can set unique or shared goals, and whoever achieves theirs first wins, Another option is to compete in teams, where each sets a higher goal — like 50,000 steps — and members work to achieve it collectively.
A step challenge can be fun to do at work, too. It’s a great bonding activity and enables you to get more exercise throughout your workday. If your company uses an app like Spot to facilitate walking meetings (which are known to boost creativity and productivity), conversations with your colleagues become prime opportunities to take some steps.
To get the most out of your step tracker, you need to take advantage of all of its features! The ones most relevant to you, anyway; your device or app likely includes much more than you know what to do with. Don’t feel overwhelmed; all you need to do is identify which features you think you’ll genuinely benefit from and remember to use them.
Many step tracking apps also count workout minutes, nutrition, sleep, and more. You can log your sleep to ensure you’re getting enough each night (rest is extremely undervalued) and your diet to measure calorie intake versus calories burned. Leverage whatever features will help you achieve your goals and live a healthier lifestyle.
If your step tracker doesn’t offer the features mentioned above natively, then see if you can integrate it with other apps that do. Apps built for tracking your sleep, diet, workout routines, and other fitness aspects can complement your step counter and give you a more comprehensive view of your daily habits.
Do you work better when other people push you or celebrate your accomplishments alongside you? If so, one of the best ways to make the most of your fitness tracker is to find a community of like-minded people. Some tracker apps come with built-in communities that enable users to encourage each other and share their progress. Others integrate with social media, which allows you to share your step count and different goals so your peers can cheer you on or update you on their own activity.
If you can’t find a community, create one! Whether it’s online or in-person, you can get people together to share words of inspiration, participate in step challenges, and talk about challenges and triumphs. Reach out to people you know and ask if they’d like some accountability in prioritizing their health and let your community grow from there.
Something you should always remember, though, is that sometimes you need to take what your step tracker or fitness app tells you with a grain of salt. It might not be as accurate as possible, so while it’s advantageous for motivating you to exercise and monitoring your diet, it might not tell you precisely how many calories you burned or factor in your unique situation when watching nutrition (many apps give you vague information in free versions and deeper insight in paid subscriptions). Your app or device is helpful for guidance, but it’s doesn’t always have the final word.
Want to get the most out of your step tracker (and the most bang for your buck)? Follow the tips described above, and don’t forget to check out Spot as a way to take more steps throughout your day, even at work.
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