UPDATED: JULY 05, 2023 | 2 MIN READ
Fitness tracker watches provide valuable information that can help many people improve their health.
From tracking steps to measuring sleep quality and heart rate, it’s easier than ever to gain insight into your health and areas of improvement.
Let’s review the benefits of wearing a fitness tracker watch, their effectiveness, and, most importantly, whether your insurance company will offer you a discount.
Is it beneficial to wear a fitness tracker watch?
Tracking your daily movements can be an eye-opening experience, especially if you’re hoping to inspire more exercise. But besides monitoring your daily activity, plenty of other perks come with wearing a fitness tracker.
What are the benefits of wearing an activity tracker?
In addition to encouraging more movement, wearing a fitness tracker can also bring more benefits, including:
- Tracking Tailored Goals: For example, if you aim to run a 5K, your tracker can set individual milestones to get you up to your 3.1-mile goal.
- Aiding Weight Loss: If you’re trying to meet or beat your goals, you’ll likely see a difference on the scale.
- Group Motivation: Depending on the fitness tracker, you can share your progress with your social media networks, allowing your friends to encourage and compete with you.
- Tracking Sleep: Some trackers monitor your nightly movements to ensure you get three full sleep cycles.
Are fitness trackers accurate?
Numerous studies surround the reliability of fitness trackers, and the main takeaway is that their accuracy varies depending on what the tracker is attempting to measure.
Some trackers vary in accuracy in measuring total energy expenditure (TEE). When energy was the only measuring parameter, trackers were typically less accurate than heart rate tracking technology.
Trackers used in an International Journal of Environmental Research study were out by more than 10% when measuring energy expenditure. When measuring aerobic workouts, the trackers overestimated. The trackers hurt workouts performed at a slower pace.
Can a fitness tracker help boost your heart health?
Fitness trackers offer many health-related benefits, but they’re not medical devices. No evidence wearing one will reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease. However, many fitness trackers promote heart-healthy habits, like staying active, getting quality sleep, and being more mindful of stress.
How do fitness trackers work?
Fitness trackers work in numerous ways to compile data and information that you can use to track your goals, measure your calories, and more.
Count your steps
A tracker senses your movement on a 3-axis accelerometer. Data is recorded while worn and charged, which enables the tracker to trace if you’re walking, running, or standing.
To better ensure accurate step counts, read the instructor’s manual when you set up the device, firmly wear it on your non-dominant hand, and log your non-active times to compare it with your hourly data.
Measure other movements
Activity trackers and smartwatches use an accelerometer to sense movement and detect acceleration. These devices typically measure acceleration in X, Y, and Z planes (accelerations from front to back, side to side, and up and down.)
To avoid erroneously logging false movements, perform calibration steps and consider attaching your tracker near your hip. The closer it is to your center of mass, the more accurate it will be.
Check vital signs
Smartwatches and fitness bands measure heart rate by scanning blood flow near the wrist with illuminating green LED lights. These watches use green because our blood absorbs the color well, so the optical sensors can gauge blood flow and heartbeats more accurately.
Keep track of calories
Many fitness trackers use complex algorithms that analyze movement to ascertain certain activities and “guesstimate” the heart rate interpretations. The assumption is that the faster your heart beats, the higher the demand for oxygen and energy.
Note that heart rate isn’t an accurate estimate for calories burned. If you’re attempting to track your calories burned, a Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) values chart can also show how many calories are usually burned during specific activity based on weight.
Monitor your sleep
Today, many fitness trackers have a “Sleep Mode” function that measures sleep duration, quality data, stage data, cycle alarms, and problem detection. Trackers use actigraphy and an accelerometer to track the speed and direction of motion to measure sleep quality.
Sync with other devices
Fitness tracker sensors work to record data in real time, but the data stays local on the device. However, the fitness tracker will background sync the activity data to the device app on your phone at various intervals. Keep your device and app updated to ensure it’s appropriately syncing.
Send messages and alerts
Whether you’re mirroring your phone notifications or aiming to get your fitness notifications pushed to your phone, time-sensitive alerts can be a great way to keep you motivated throughout the day. However, if you notice your tracker battery fading quickly, adjusting these notifications to a more sporadic schedule is worth adjusting.
How to Save Money on Health Insurance by Wearing a Fitness Tracker Watch
As outlined above, insurance companies have noticed that fitness trackers can help people achieve their health and wellness goals. Many companies have incentivized fitness trackers to offer lower-cost premiums. Here’s what you need to know to reap health benefits and lower-premium perks.
Why do insurance companies offer discounts
When clients are healthy, insurers decrease their risk and save money. Employers also benefit from healthy employees. Healthy workers take less sick leave, are more productive, and are likely to stay at the company longer.
How to get discounts
Enrolling in a wellness program is the easiest way to save on your insurance premiums. There are a few ways to enroll:
- Your insurer via your employer
- An insurer through a third-party wellness company
- A consumer-facing wellness company
Ask your benefits manager about any wellness programs. There’s a chance you may be eligible to receive insurance discounts now.
Where to find insurance discounts
Many insurance companies will reward you for using a fitness tracker, including John Hanock, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Oscar, Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, and Humana.
Does health insurance cover a fitness tracker watch?
Some employer-sponsored plans offer employees free or subsidized fitness trackers. Check with your insurer and employer for more details.
Do I need a fitness tracker watch?
Studies show that wearing a fitness tracker can increase your daily step count and other heart-healthy benefits. However, they aren’t for everyone. Research to find a tracker that works for your lifestyle and needs.
Does a fitness tracker watch help with weight loss?
Activity trackers encourage movement throughout the day, but wearers don’t necessarily lose weight more than non-wearers. Remember: weight loss is achieved through diet, and exercise helps maintain weight and tone.
Can a fitness tracker watch track cholesterol?
A supplemental food diary app may help keep track of cholesterol intake, but a fitness tracker alone will have little effect. If you’re after significant effects, seek support and feedback from a doctor, trainer, or nutritionist.
Can a fitness tracker watch pick up heart palpitations?
As technology evolves, some wearable devices can detect potentially dangerous irregularities. For example, the FDA has recently cleared Fitbit’s algorithm to allow the fitness tracker watch to pick up on atrial fibrillation, or AFib, the most common arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.
Fitness trackers and health insurance savings
Whether enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan or your coverage, participating in special programs can save you money on your premiums.
Using fitness trackers for insurance savings is not only good motivation to surpass your goals but can also lessen your premium cost and even help when applying for life insurance.
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