Fitness Trackers Can Help Keep Healthful Resolutions

Nat Torkelson, MS, RN, Administrative Director of Cardiovascular Services at Oklahoma Heart Institute tries not to miss her water aerobics class three times a week. But that’s not the only time she’s logging physical activity. Every thirty minutes she gets a reminder if she’s been sitting at her desk without getting up.

“There may be days that I have a lot of meeting time or in-office time, so my steps may be 3,000 or 4,000, and of course you aim for 10,000,” Nat explains. “The days that I greet in the lobby of the hospital, I have plenty of steps and I get more than 10,000.”

One in ten people in the U.S., like Nat, own a fitness or activity tracker. Popular brands like Fitbit (the most downloaded free iOs app Christmas Day) and Jawbone were unwrapped over the holiday season. Nat has been wearing a Jawbone fitness tracker for the last three years and was excited to receive an upgrade for Christmas – the Jawbone Up3.  

Wearable technology is a growing industry and companies are vying for consumers by offering a variety of products tailored to specific goals. With so many on the market to choose from, Consumer Reports published a buying guide before the holiday shopping season.

Nat chose her original Jawbone a few years ago to not only help with tracking her steps, but to also give her insight into her sleep.

“I’ve had some challenges with getting a good night’s rest periodically,” she adds. “I wanted to see my sleep patterns. That’s one of the things I like about the Jawbone. It gives you not only your light sleep and deep sleep, but also REM. It has been helpful. I take that information to my doctor’s office when I go for my annual visits.”

Tracking more than just steps is what encouraged Nat to graduate from the pedometer she had worn for years to a Jawbone. She has set up her Jawbone with the MyFitnessPal app on her phone to also track food and water intake, as well as her water exercise. The silver bracelet on her left wrist also serves as a connection to family and friends tracking their physical activity as well. 

“I have connected with, among other people, my sister who lives in New Hampshire,” Nat says. “She has gotten on a real health kick over the last couple of years. We motivate each other. We can give each other high fives over the app! All of that helps to motivate us. Many of us don’t do well staying very disciplined just on our own, but it helps to have other people encouraging you.”

Across the hospital, Media and Public Relations Manager at Hillcrest, Angela Peterson, keeps a close eye on her activity through her iPhone built-in pedometer, which is linked to MyFitnessPal.

“I spend the majority of my day at work so it is important to understand how I am treating my body while I am in the office,” she explains. “Our campus is so large that I honestly thought I walked at least 10,000 steps before noon most days – this gave me an excuse to lounge on the couch when I got home. Once I discovered the pedometer, I realized how incorrect my assumptions were. I was surprised to learn that on days where I sit behind my computer, I would not even take 1,000 steps before 5:00 p.m. I know that being sedentary isn’t healthy.”

Since Angela started tracking her steps, she realized her level of activity can vary pretty dramatically any given day.

“My job varies quite a bit,” she adds. “Some days I don’t leave my office area and sit behind my computer all day. Other days, I can hit 10,000 steps before noon walking all over the campus to meetings, working events and escorting visitors and patients to their destination.”

Fitness trackers can’t do the work to boost your physical fitness alone. “The first step is being aware of how sedentary office life can be and the next step is doing something about it,” Angela admits. “The pedometer and associated calories burned tracking tools are like a game to me. I get excited to take long walks to and from various meetings and make a focused effort to try to reach 10,000 steps every day. Sometimes I am able to get them in at work, but if not, I take a walk when I get home.  The pedometer also makes mundane chores, like mowing the lawn or raking leaves, fun, because I love to see how many steps I take during the process.”

Hillcrest Exercise & Lifestyle Programs offers a fitness classes, as well as a full service gym and personal fitness instruction. To learn more please call 918-579-4900 or click here.