Should I Get a Fitness Tracker?
I recently purchased a Myzone Heart Rate Monitor. This is not exactly like a Fitbit, which I will cover later. My Myzone Heart Rate Monitor is a wearable device that I can wear on my wrist or chest and monitors my heart rate, calories, and intensity over a period of time. It connects to the app on my phone which stores and displays the information as well if you want to track your 'stats' in real-time. I purchased this under advice from my medical care team, who suggested that tracking my heart rate during periods of exercise would help me understand my chest pain and other symptoms of microvascular angina.
Review of my new fitness tracking device
Overall, I would give this device a thumbs up! It is easy to use and is comfortable on my wrist, and I do feel comfortable during exercise monitoring my heart rate. It is also easy to set up, even if you are not a techy person like myself, and the app displays a wide array of information. The only downside for me is the heart rate fitness zones, which the program calculates using your age, gender, and weight to create your maximum heart rate. There are zones for what percentage you are at given your maximum heart rate. The idea being, that by tracking, it encourages the wearer to monitor and workout at higher intensities...However, my issue is that I'm on a beta-blocker, which can prevent a rise in heart rate during activity.1
So, the average maximum heart rate and my heart rate are not the same thing, and from a health standpoint, given my history, the doctors do not want my heart rate to go above a certain point as compared to my resting heart rate. I do need to call and see if they can adjust the maximum heart rate to what applies to me.
I would still say that it's easy to use and I like the added function of having a real estimate of the calories burned during exercise as well. Exercise for me is to some extent a mental battle, so I like having the real time tracker (whether I'm on a treadmill or away from a gym) of how long I've worked out for, what my heart rate is and how may many calories I've burned. By tracking it I can set goals for myself that help keep me motivated week after week.
Other wearable activity trackers
That being said, there are other wearable activity trackers. Fitbit is a popular one that comes to mind. Exact features can depend on the model you purchase. It can monitor stats like heart rate, steps, amount of stairs you have climbed, sleep tracking, etc. However, from my understanding, it does not track the intensity of your exercise. On the plus side though, if you care more about your overall steps for instance, this device can be worn all day. My Myzone product is meant to analyze things during periods of activity and does not count steps. Keep in mind that if you are not a fitness minded person, Apple products like the watch or phone (as long as it's on while you are moving) can also count your steps.
Fitness tracker as possible motivation for heart failure patients
If this all sounds unnecessary to you and you are keeping yourself physically active then more power to you. However, as a heart failure patient, physical exercise is important and it is hard when heart failure has symptoms that may cause a patient to not want to workout, including fatigue. It is admittedly not easy. If you feel that you are not getting the exercise that you need, consider if a wearable device, fitbit or an Apple product (and the data that these gadgets provide) might help you in finding the motivation to get movin'!
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