We asked experts your burning questions about fitness trackers. Here's how the wearable devices could make you fitter and healthier.
Wondering if a wearable fitness tracker will help you on your journey to get fit? We asked the experts whether the latest fitness devices can really help us get healthy.
How accurate are these trackers?
It may vary by tracker (wearable device or app), many of which have not been publicly tested. Research on some smartphone apps, for instance, has turned up discrepancies in distances travelled, with apps either over- or underestimating how many steps you're taking when compared with more sophisticated treadmill measurements. Be cautious about focusing on specific numbers, especially when it comes to calories, as studies show apps (and even treadmills, for that matter) aren't necessarily accurate, says Mary Jung, assistant professor and health researcher at The University of British Columbia.
That said, both types of trackers are useful for recording your own trends. "As long as you're comparing yourself with yourself over time, you're going to see changes in your life relatively accurately picked up," says Greg Wells, associate professor and physiology and kinesiology researcher at the University of Toronto. These changes might include increasing the amount you walk or run each day, improving your heart rate and reducing the amount of time you sit. Wells has had success with the Apple Watch while training for an Ironman competition, and using apps such as Runkeeper and Strava for cycling.
Do they help us get more fit?
The short answer is yes, says Wells, because the data can be motivating. Adds Jung: "They provide an opportunity to see whether you are doing more or less than you did yesterday, and reminders encourage you to get up and be active."
That's particularly helpful for sedentary people who want to be more active, says Wells. About 85 percent of Canadians aren't active enough to help prevent chronic illness. "Knowing how much you're walking and moving is powerful information," he says, "and most people need to improve those numbers."
When don't they work?
Another major critique of trackers is they don't yet offer context for the numbers they record—why are Tuesdays your worst day for walking or why did your running pace slow down over the week? Not surprisingly, about a third of devices get abandoned after six months. But, as Wells points out, that's actually not a bad statistic. "It means about 70 percent are still using them," he says. "That's a massive success story."
How can we overcome the devices' (and our own) shortcomings?
Choose the right tracker. "The best ones will provide users with weekly or monthly reports so they can self-monitor and use the data to self-reflect," says Jung. If you're honest with yourself, you can see if what you're doing is getting you toward your goals, she adds.
Do I have to wear my device every day?
No, you can wear it strategically—one day a week or even every two months. If you want to wear it daily, go for it, says Wells, "but if you feel it's onerous or annoying, put it in your desk drawer and set a reminder in your computer to wear it again in six weeks to see how things are going."
Go on, have another slice of pumpkin pie.
There are few things better than a great big Thanksgiving feast shared with family and friends. If you choose your outfit wisely, you're free to indulge without worrying about rigid waistbands or fitted dresses holding you back.
We've got outfit ideas that will keep you comfy and stylish, no matter how you celebrate this totally indulgent holiday.
A cozy Thanksgiving with your immediate family
Not all families have large gatherings around the holidays. Maybe you're cooking a turkey breast (or tofurky) instead of the whole bird, or maybe there's no dinner at all and you'll spend the evening watching movies on the couch. If you're planning something small with just your partner, or your parents, or your kids, keep your outfit simple. We love the idea of an oversized shirt dress (bonus points for season-appropriate tartan), topped with a maxi cardigan. Flat, menswear-inspired shoes and sparkly socks keep this look from being too casual—you still want to look nice, after all.
Thanksgiving at the cottage
Whether you're going with only a few people, or your entire family, Thanksgiving at the cottage has something going for it other than the scenery—the very casual dress code. We recommend a stretchy, long-sleeve top paired with boyfriend jeans (the baggier, the better) and a roomy turtleneck sweater (the one shown below is actually a vest). Finish off the look with simple (waterproof) boots, just in case you decide to walk off that second serving of mashed potatoes after dinner.
The big family affair
If you're attending a fam jam with all of your relatives, you need to look on point—especially if someone in the group is an amateur photographer. There will be pictures. And you will be tagged on Facebook. We recommend opting for roomy trousers (a drawstring helps) in a stylish fabric like velvet, which also happens to be extremely comfortable. Pair with a long, roomy sweater in a flattering colour (this eggplant works with all skin tones) and sparkly accessories. For shoes, try a comfortable ankle boot with a trendy western-inspired twist.
If you're having a friends-only Thanksgiving event, we recommend playing with texture for added interest in your oversized ensemble. Keep it comfy with an A-line blouse (the one shown is in classic denim) and faux-leather leggings, which are both fancy and comfortable. Top it off with your favourite blanket scarf or poncho and some cool boots. This outfit will keep you covered, whether you indulge in drinks, turkey or cake—or all of the above.
We're sharing a few simple (and manageable!) tips to make your kitchen feel clutter-free.
1. Keep tabs: Check your pantry for expired cans or jars and discard them. Then, combine any duplicates from what's left and store similar items together. This will help you have a better grasp of your kitchen inventory at a quick glance and make you less likely to purchase an item you actually already have on hand.
2. Find your match: Empty your tupperware drawer and match every container to its lid, getting rid of ones that don't have one. Most of us hold up hope that missing items will show up weeks after they've been lost, but when it comes to tupperware, that rarely seems to be the case! Taking a few minutes to edit your collection every month makes it easier to make the most of what you have available.
3. Know your favourites: Reevaluating your countertop real estate is primordial. Only the items that you use daily (or very often) deserve that prime spot. Items used less than once a week should be tucked into drawers and cupboards.
4. Be picky: Do you really use that egg slicer? Was that grapefruit spoon a useful buy? Take a few minutes to ask yourself whether you could part with those specialty gadget impulse buys. Give those items to a friend or relative who might enjoy them or donate them to a local charity.