4 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Fitness Tracker
Two years ago, many people I know received a fitness tracker over the holiday season. While I thought it was a great concept, they just did not fit my style. The bands seemed very bulky, and the styles were not my normal accessory choices. I kept telling myself that if I could find one that looked nice, per my style requirements, I would buy one.
The main reason I wanted one was because the company I worked for at the time often did step challenges. A fitness tracker seemed like a better option to track steps than the old-school trackers that attached to the waist of your pants, and were near impossible to place correctly if you decide to wear a dress.
I had tried to use the fitness tracker on my phone but quickly found that this did not work, either. I often forgot to take my phone with me when I walked around the house or office. At times I had to carry my phone in my hands because I didn’t have pockets that were big enough or any pockets at all. When I did this around the house my oldest daughter would tell me to put down my phone and pay attention to her – such painful words to hear your child say. These challenges led me to give up on tracking my steps.
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Then, last month for my birthday I received a smartwatch. At first, my opinion of smartwatches was the same as fitness trackers; not my style. They were big, bulky, and in my opinion ugly. My opinion changed when I saw my mother-in-law’s smartwatch. It looked like a normal watch; a fashionable smartwatch I could wear. After some research, I decided I wanted the Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch – Classic Rose Gold. My husband listened to my wishes and bought me the rose gold version for my birthday.
To me, having a smartwatch was a necessity as I started my business. There had been too many times I missed a phone call or an email because my phone was in my purse, across the room, or because my hands were full carrying bags or kids. Having a smartwatch allows my to never miss an important call. By glancing at my wrist, I know right away who is calling and if I need to get my phone.
As I explored the features of my phone, I discovered that it had a fitness tracker as one of the built-in features. As I wore my smartwatch, it would count my steps and track where I was compared to my goal.
Now that I have worn my smartwatch for a little over a month, I have found out the true value of having a fitness tracker. I believe that every entrepreneur, and any worker that spends any large amount of time sitting down, should have a fitness tracker. Here’s why:
Gets You Moving
One of the most obvious reasons to have a fitness tracker is that it gets you moving. At a glance, you can see how many steps you have taken that day. If you have never tracked your steps before, the preliminary numbers can be surprising; in most cases surprisingly low. Most entrepreneurs sit way too long every day and we don’t even realize it. Take this story of mine.
Most people with young kids feel like they are always on the move. That’s how I feel at times with my two little ones. If they are home while I’m trying to work, it seems like they always need something that I have to go get, I’m running around playing with them in hopes that they will give me quiet time in return, or I’m picking up their mess from all corners of the house so I don’t feel like I’m working in a disaster zone.
This Christmas, we traveled to my home town in western New York for a two-week trip. The time was a nice balance of family time and work. Our time was spent indoors due to the cold, windy weather and lack of snow. I never realized how lazy I actual was on days like these until I was tracking my steps. Some days, I was ending the day with walking only 2,000 steps. Well below my very low goal of 6,000.
How was this possible? I started to evaluate my behavior and I realized that I wasn’t as active as I thought. My inactive times were longer than I imagined and when I was active it was only a few steps at a time. It was right then I realized that my activity level needed to change. I started taking the dog on walks every time she needed to go out, and would purposely walk around the inside of the house instead of sitting still whenever I took a break from working.
It was hard to deny the truth about my activity when the numbers were right in front of me. Entrepreneurs need to focus on their health, but let’s be honest. It’s often hard to find the time to make it to the gym. Having a fitness tracker got me moving and has kept me moving. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t take the dog for a walk and I think every day about what I’m going to do to stay active even when working 8+ hours. If it wasn’t for my fitness tracker, I would still be averaging about 2,000 – 3,000 steps a day because I would not have the insight into how little I was actually moving.
One of the nice features of most wrist-worn fitness trackers is that they alert you when you have been inactive for too long. My fitness tracker will alert me if I have been inactive for at least an hour.
Now, there are times when this can be annoying. For instance, my tracker kept alerting me that I was inactive for too long when we were doing the drive from New York to Florida after our Christmas visit. As much as I wanted to get up and move, there was no way we were stopping every hour during what was already a very long trip. (And to answer the question you are asking right now: Yes, I achieved my step goal on the days we were traveling. I made it a point to walk a select portion of my steps every time we stopped for gas, food, bathroom breaks, or to switch drivers. I even continued as I received a few weird looks as I walk back-and-forth in a McDonalds as the girls tired themselves out in the play area.)
There are other times when the notification is a great reminder. Sitting too long can be harmful to your body. The Mayo Clinic has said:
“Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
As an entrepreneur, when you’re starting a business, focusing on an important project, or simply completing tasks that need to be done while sitting at a desk, it’s easy to get drawn deep into your work. An hour or two can pass by in the blink of an eye. It happens to me all the time; even as I have been writing this blog.
When I become very focused on my work, the vibration of my smartwatch brings me back to reality. A simple notification will be displayed telling me that I have been inactive for too long and to get moving.
I will be honest, sometimes I ignore the message. I might be deep in the middle of a thought and I just need ten more minutes to get everything on paper, or I might only have 15 minutes before I need to leave to pick up my daughter at school. In these cases, I know that I will not be sitting too much longer.
If I don’t have a good reason to keep working, I make myself get up. I’ll fill my water glass, run to the bathroom, grab a snack, or take a lap inside the house. There have even been times where I have paced back-and-forth in a Starbucks.
It doesn’t take many steps before I receive another notification saying that I am back on track. These breaks are not about exercising, they are about moving; moving can do wonderful things for your body. There are even preliminary studies on how walking increases brain activity.
Walking Gives You a Break
When you ask someone when they get their best ideas, what are the answers you typically get? They tend to be: in the shower, while driving, or in the middle of the night. No one ever says, “while I’m sitting at my desk completely focused on a project.” Solutions to problems become more visible when you take a step back and give your mind a break.
The simple act of taking a walk gives your brain the opportunity to recharge about the project at hand. As you let your mind become defocused on a challenging subject, you might see things from a different perspective.
As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of weight on your shoulders and breaks easily get pushed off the to-do list.
A fitness tracker encourages you to take these breaks. While longer breaks might be better for your overall brain activity, a walk around your house or office could be all you need to have a breakthrough; the breakthrough you have been trying to achieve as you sat at your desk pulling out your hair for the last few hours.
Practice Setting Goals and Achieving Them
One thing that we hear over and over in business and life is that if you want to achieve something, you need to set a goal. Having a goal will hold you accountable as a good goal will tell you what you are supposed to do and by when. Having a fitness tracker gives you practice with this concept.
With fitness trackers, you set a goal of how many steps you want to take each day. You know that the step counter resets every day at midnight so you must complete your goal by this time to be successful.
To continue with my Christmas trip example, some days it was hard to get in my steps. Once I became dedicate to my goal, I made it a point to still get in my steps. With the weather not being ideal for this Florida girl to take long walks, I would walk around the house, go up and down the stairs, or take the dog on short walks. There were even some nights I took the dog for a walk at 11:45 pm because I needed to reach the goal I set for the day. I was not about to let myself miss a day so early in my journey. I would tell myself if I allow myself to miss my goal today, what was going to motivate me to achieve my goal tomorrow?
As you start to accomplish your daily goals, you become motivated to keep going. This motivation can bleed over into your work life. You see that with dedication, you can achieve any goal that is set for you whether it is set by you or by someone else (maybe a client or invertor). If a goal seems too cumbersome, set small goals within the larger goal to help you get to the final step. For me, 6,000 steps were not a number of steps I wanted to complete overall. Most studies say it should be closer to 10,000. I started with 6,000 and after two weeks of achieving this goal, I increased it to 6,500. I have gone up in 500 step increments ever since and will continue until I am at 10,000.
Over the last month and a half I have benefited greatly from the fitness tracker on my smartwatch. Do you have a fitness tracker? If so, do you see any additional benefits? If you do not have a fitness tracker, what stops you from buying one?