No. You don’t. But they might be useful.
Fitness bands and smartwatches come with fitness tracking capabilities and people seem to want them.
According to https://www.macrumors.com/2020/08/31/apple-leads-wearables-market-q2-2020/ the entire industry shipped 29.4 Million Units in Q2 of 2020 ALONE.
This is huge. Part of the reason behind their popularity is marketing. And then there’s the “if you spent money, you are already invested” mentality. If we dedicate money to buying these things, we already feel like we accomplished the hard work of working out without a minute of sweating. I know this because I’ve done it myself in the past.
But don’t get me wrong. These devices are not just useless garbage. They can help you keep consistency with your workouts by giving you tools to track everything.
Benefits of trackers
- 10,000 steps a day keeps the doctor away. It is a simple number that requires you to leave the house and take a long walk. Some people might find it stupid, but it defenitely helps.
- 150 minutes of activity per week. Most trackers will also count activity minutes. The WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate or 70 minutes of intense cardio-workouts to stay healthy. If the tracker counts your activity, you can see a progress bar almost like in a video game. "Not done for the week? Go and move ya ass!"
- Hourly Reminders: If you’re sucked into work, this might seem a little tedious, but it helps you out a lot. The hourly reminder to move your body can be distracting but Fitbits for example tell you to take at least 250 steps every hour of your day to not hurt your body to critical degree. If you don’t plan on buying a tracker, set yourself an hourly reminder on your phone. Believe me: it can stop back-pain from happening (at least that’s my experience with it.
- They keep you from using your phone. If you can read (and with some smart watches even reply to) texts on your wrist, you will not need to pick up your phone. And this can change your behaviour massively. You can choose the apps that are allowed to send you notifications with most bands. Thus you only receive messages or calls if you choose to. It keeps me away from hour-long scrolling sessions without disconnecting me. Maybe this might work for you as well.
- Sleep-Tracking: We have created a society that doesn’t put much energy in keeping a great sleep schedule, yet it would help us prevent dangerous things like alzheimer’s. If you know when you actually sleep, you can more easily focus on a better schedule. The problem with most health-related habits is that we underestimate how poorly we treat ourselves.
- They can be really cheap, yet powerful. Honor Band 5, Mi Band 5, Amazfit devices, Fitbit Alta HR, the list goes on and on. There are several devices for 30 to 50 bucks which can do the things I’ve listed above (and more). So if you feel like they could be beneficial, go for it.
Why You Don’t Need a Tracker
Sure, a watch on your wrist will be better to capture all the steps you take and keep you away from the distraction paradise "smartphone". But to be fair, if your digital hygiene is great and you don’t get distracted by your phone, you could easily do most things with it as well. Google Fit, Huawei Fit, Apple Fitness, Open Source Alternatives. The app store is filled with applications that will suit most of these needs. But they involve a phone. If that is not a problem for you, don’t spend a single buck.