Today’s vast array of fitness tracking devices offer many features to help you be more aware of your physical health. Everything from the amount of miles you’ve walked, to the calories you’ve burned and even your heart rate are all feasible from a variety of fitness tracking devices you wear on your wrist.
However, when it comes to deciphering what this data actually means in real-world results, fitness tracker manufacturers like Fitbit, Jawbone and Garmin don’t provide much more insight.
Understanding fitness metrics
Consider this: your favorite fitness tracker says your resting heart rate is at a solid 68 beats per minute, you usually take around 7,000 steps a day and you burn nearly 3,000 calories while doing it. Great, right? Maybe.
The truth is that numbers without context aren’t very useful. It’s when you weigh these results against hard facts that things begin to make sense. For instance, did you know that the average healthy person is expected to:
- Walk 10,000 steps (equivalent of 5 miles) every day.
- Exercise for 30 minutes each day.
- Have a resting heart rate between 60–100 (the lower, the better).
- Seldom exceed the body’s maximum heart rate (calculated by subtracting your age from 220).
Note: many fitness tracker manufacturers warn that their devices are not intended to serve as medical-grade monitoring equipment. All measurements taken with a consumer fitness tracker are subject to minor discrepancies based on the user’s physical composition and the environment the device is operating in. Recorded results are simply designed to motivate you to move more.
Understanding your body
Knowing how your recorded metrics stand up against aggregated data is only half of getting the most from your fitness tracking devices. You also have to know how your body handles calories and physical activity. While every body is different, these rules generally apply to most:
- One pound equals 3,500 calories.
- It takes 20 steps to burn one calorie.
- The body burns an estimated number of calories per day simply by keeping you alive (3,050 for the average man, 2,400 for the average woman). These are known as inactive calories.
- Active calories are the additional expended energy that occurs with exercise.
Keeping the above in mind, a person wanting to lose one pound per week would need to burn 500 calories more than he/she takes in each day.
Putting these metrics to good use
Maintaining a healthy body — from the foods you eat to the exercise you endure — can greatly impact the results of your life insurance health exam and even lower the cost of the life insurance policies available to you.
So let’s put everything you learned above to work! In part two of Fitness Fiends, we will discuss some fun ways your favorite fitness tracking devices can be used to burn calories, monitor your progress and even shed some pounds.