Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews -

FIT­NESS track­ers are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar. In fact, in­clud­ing Christ­mas sales, es­ti­mates sug­gest that a stag­ger­ing 53 mil­lion of the things were sold in 2016. And it’s not just adults who are get­ting in on the craze, more and more chil­dren are adding fit­ness track­ers to their wish lists – and re­ceiv­ing them.

So could these gad­gets re­ally help you and your kids get more ac­tive? The an­swer isn’t quite as sim­ple as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There is cer­tainly rea­son to sug­gest that the nov­elty of track­ing steps, heart rate, calo­ries burned, and so on has an ap­peal to peo­ple of all ages. For chil­dren in par­tic­u­lar it can cre­ate a sense of com­pe­ti­tion, turn­ing fit­ness and ex­er­cise into a game.

The high tech na­ture of the track­ers and how they look are also ap­peal­ing to kids. How­ever, one of the key challenges with fit­ness track­ers is how to en­sure that once the nov­elty has worn off the habit is main­tained. It’s some­thing that I’ve been work­ing on for a few years now through our on­line health and well­ness pro­gramme, ac­til­ife, and what we’ve found has re­cently been backed up by sci­en­tific re­search in the USA.

The re­search, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fit­ness Jour­nal, re­vealed that phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity track­ers are more likely to mo­ti­vate peo­ple if their use is cou­pled with well­ness coach­ing.

This es­sen­tially means that along­side track­ing your ac­tiv­ity you are pro­vided with ad­vice and sup­port. TECH ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH BUT what does this mean for you and your fam­ily? Well, it means that fit­ness track­ers can be ef­fec­tive, but it’s un­likely that – if left to their own de­vices – your fam­ily will be­come and stay ac­tive purely through us­ing the track­ers. In­stead it will still re­quire a more proac­tive ap­proach.

You may not have a fit­ness coach on hand, but there are sim­ple things you can do your­self to bring that el­e­ment of ad­di­tional sup­port to your fam­ily. For ex­am­ple, rather than get­ting your child a fit­ness tracker and then leav­ing them to get on with it, you can help to pro­vide that ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion for them to keep go­ing.

There are any num­ber of ways to do this. For a start it would be a good idea for you to help them in set­ting their ac­tiv­ity tar­gets. Re­mem­ber, chil­dren should be get­ting around 60 min­utes of ac­tiv­ity a day. You could also sync up their de­vice with your own phone so that you can see how they’re get­ting on and whether they’re meet­ing their goals. Most im­por­tantly though, you can help them find ways to build ac­tiv­ity into their rou­tine. Sug­gest get­ting off the bus a stop ear­lier or hav­ing a dance around the lounge in the TV ad­vert breaks to help them boost their step count. Spend some time plan­ning fun walk­ing routes for the week­end with the prom­ise it will mean they smash their tar­gets. Or ask them what sports they’d like to try so that they can hit their goals. And if you have a fit­ness tracker too, all these sug­ges­tions will work just as well for you and will pro­vide a great way of spend­ing time with your kids. You could even cre­ate some com­pe­ti­tion be­tween fam­ily mem­bers to keep ev­ery­one mo­ti­vated. Track­ers like the Fit­bit Flex have proved to be pop­u­lar with chil­dren Fit­ness track­ers can be good for help­ing with mo­ti­va­tion for you and your chil­dren SET FIT­NESS GOALS AN­OTHER tip that I would rec­om­mend is to in­tro­duce some form of in­cen­tive to help keep your fam­ily on track.

For ex­am­ple per­haps you could award a star for hit­ting a daily goal and then give a small ‘prize’ for reaching a cer­tain num­ber of stars. This is an­other way to en­sure that those daily tracked num­bers con­tinue to have mean­ing and re­ward for both you and your kids.

All the new ac­tiv­i­ties and changes to your rou­tine are what re­ally mat­ters here.

They are the things that will ac­tu­ally make a dif­fer­ence to your fam­ily’s health. Where fit­ness track­ers can help is that they show you the ef­fec­tive­ness of mak­ing small changes.

The ex­tra steps in your lunch break, or laps of the play­ground at break time, all add up on the track­ert and see­ing that can make ana amaz­ing dif­fer­ence to your mo­ti­va­tion.m

Ul­ti­mately, you don’t need fit­ness track­ers to get your fam­ily fit­ness on track. But if you’re lucky enough to have them then t these tips should help you get the most from them and make sure they re­ally make a dif­fer­ence. ■ Michelle Childs is phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity de­vel­op­ment man­ager at Life Leisure lifeleisure.net

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