Fitness: Try Personal Activity Tracker

<p>Carla Linder-Mayer, owner Reality Fitness in Naperville</p>

Carla Linder-Mayer, owner Reality Fitness in Naperville

Where will you be walking to this summer? My husband and I have always dreamt of walking the Appalachian Trail. In fact, seven years ago, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary by picking up a small piece of the trail in Virginia at Shenandoah National Park and hiking for a couple of days.

I’ve learned to never say never, but the chances of Mark and I having the time, money and personal determination to go without those little luxuries like toilet paper to walk the 2,184 mile trail from beginning to end are unlikely. However, I have started a virtual walk on the Appalachian Trail using my Personal Activity Tracker. My hike began in Georgia and will continue until I reach my destination — Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Technology has never been my strong suit, but I have to admit I am loving my Personal Activity Tracker. It measures my steps each day and even gives me virtual rewards when I hit distance milestones. It tells me how many calories I have burned, how long I have slept, my quality of sleep and how many times I woke up during the night.

I can even set weight loss goals and track my food throughout the day to help me stay on track with my intake of calories.

You have probably seen someone you know wearing a band on their wrist and wondered what it was. The bands are usually black, but they do come in a variety of colors, and among fitness enthusiasts, they have become a regular part of our wardrobe. It doesn’t really matter if we are going hiking, out to dinner with friends or shopping, we have it on, measuring every step we take.

If you want to lose weight, become more physically active or just want to be more mindful of your overall health, a Personal Activity Tracker (PAT) might be for you. If you are serious about buying a PAT for yourself or as a gift, there are a few questions you will want to answer to choose the model that best meets the needs of the user.

Do you want a device that you would wear every day? If this is something you will wear all the time, you want to make sure it is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing to you, and able to stay on your wrist during your daily activities.

Most of the PATs are water resistant but not waterproof. If you are specifically looking for something that can be worn during swimming, you will want to make sure your device is waterproof. It was important to me to be able to keep mine on while showering but not while swimming, so the PAT I use is water resistant.

Which PAT is compatible with my smartphone? Do your research on this!

If you choose your PAT based on the information you want to receive but your phone or computer is not compatible with that particular device, you are going to be incredibly frustrated and disappointed and will give up on this technology before you even get started.

You can do a lot of research at home using information on the web, but for me, I went shopping with someone who was computer savvy and understood the technology. They were able to help steer me in the right direction and then even helped with the initial set up and synching to my phone and computer.

For the most part, they all record the daily steps you take. What are most important tracking features for you? Will your PAT:

Keep track of your daily, weekly, monthly and total miles walked?

Synch with a food diary?

Keep track of your sleep patterns?

Keep track of calories burned?

Be able to share your information with friends/family/personal trainer?

Monitor your heart rate? At this time, most PAT’s do not keep track of your heart rate. If this is important to you, make sure the PAT you choose has a heart-rate monitor strap option that allows you to monitor your heart rate while exercising.

Challenge your kids to reach a “hiking” destination during the summer. You could even print a map from beginning to end representing your virtual hike and use markers to keep track of how far along you are in your hike.

So, where will you be walking to this summer using your Personal Activity Tracker?

Carla Linder-Mayer grew up in Naperville. She and her husband, Mark, have been married since 1977 and raised their three children here. She owns Reality Fitness, 39 ½ W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville. Contact her at 630-357-7087.

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