Question marksHealth trackers are turning up everywhere. Some devices are even wearable and look like jewelry, some are computer based and still others pair your phone with another tool to track diet, activity and sleep patterns. Should you use one? In a word, yes. Even if you track the old fashioned way with pen and paper, the boost to accountability can’t be beat. Here are some tips on how health tracking helps.

Record meals and exercise

Researchers have noted that study subjects consistently overestimate their activity level and underestimate caloric intake. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine points to this discrepancy as a reason dieters in their study did not lose weight. Using a health tracker encourages you to record actual activity and calories rather than guestimate. Having more accurate information gives you a place to start from if you are not reaching your fitness milestones.  For example, you may guess that you are taking 10,000 steps or burning 500 calories a day. Still, the scale does not budge. A health tracker can give you a more accurate tally of actual calories burned. Using that information you get a more accurate picture of what you are doing and what you must actually do to lose weight.

The same is true of food.  Maybe you think that you are taking in 1500 calories daily when the actual number is higher. Health trackers encourage you to record bites and tastes as well as meals. Cleaning your kids plate can quickly add up to enough calories to derail your diet.

Monitor progress

Fitness is a tricky business in our rush and hurry world. It is easy to feel discouraged when we don’t see results pretty quickly.  Health trackers can help. This tool allows you to focus on the big picture rather than just the finish line. Use the tool to connect with others and get support, watch your “wins” (each time you meet your daily fitness and food goals) add up, and find creative ways to stay motivated and on track. Track your progress weekly to build momentum and celebrate success along the way.

Set goals

Fitness isn’t just about weight loss. It is about being healthy and feeling your best. Use your health tracker to identify goals. You are more likely to feel satisfied with your fitness program when you focus beyond the scale. For example, maybe in addition to managing your weight your goals are to have more energy, less anxiety, lower blood pressure and more restful sleep.

Yes!If you haven’t jumped on the health tracker bandwagon, give it a try. After all, you wouldn’t try to manage your money without some kind of tracking system, would you? Your health is even more important. Using a health tracker is an easy way to set clear goals, hold yourself accountable and monitor progress. Many are free and easy to use so there is no reason not to get started today.