Finding Ways to ‘Watch’ Your Workout

NorthBay HealthSpring Fitness General Manager Greg Nagaye, left, and NorthBay Healthcare President and CEO Gary Passama compare watches during a recent photo shoot.

If it’s time for a new fitness routine, maybe it’s time for a new watch.

Or a bracelet. Or a clip.

Wearable fitness monitors are all the rage, and one thing’s for sure: They’re not your grandpa’s pedometer. They come with all sorts of bells and whistles, literally and figuratively speaking. They offer reminders to get moving, they’ll monitor your blood pressure and even keep track of your sleep. Want to know how many calories you just burned? Check your stats.

At a recent photo shoot for Wellspring magazine, NorthBay President and CEO Gary Passama was comparing his Apple watch to that of NorthBay HealthSpring Fitness General Manager Greg Nagaye’s.

Both men say it’s a useful tool to stay motivated and moving. “It’s not uncommon to see me get up during a meeting and walk around the room,” says Gary. “I use my watch to budget my activity—from exercise and motion to standing.”

Those who make the effort to stand at least once every hour during a 12-hour day can burn up to 600 calories.

“It compels me to move,” says Gary, “which is important, especially if you have a sedentary job like I do.”

Prices on fitness trackers range from $20 to $700 and offer a wide range of options. You’ll want to pay attention to the battery life—some can run up to three weeks while others have to be recharged every 24 hours when it’s in workout mode.

Be sure to buy a fitness monitor that is compatible with your computer, because you’ll want to sync it and track your activity.

The most expensive devices offer heart-rate monitors and GPS, which is great for runners, but if you’re just planning to walk, you can probably settle for a less expensive option.

Don’t want to buy a new watch? Your smart phone can suffice because yes, there’s an app for that, although you do have to carry your phone around with you during your workout routine. Apps can measure steps and distance traveled, and some can even track allergy severity and stress level. And they’re getting more and more accurate, says Greg.

In fact, some doctors are already prescribing apps and using the data collection to track their patients.

“It’s a great tool to complement an effective program designed for the individual,” says Greg. “I think people are inherently competitive, and they’re always checking their tracker to see if they’ve met their challenge for the day. I’ve heard of some people getting up in the middle of the night and walking around just to get some extra steps in.”

It can be a bit addictive, he admits, “but there are far worse addictions to have.”

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