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."
Photography by Davina Choy Credits: Photography by Davina Choy
On those cold, wintry days when you need something warm around your face, grab your knitting needles, hibernate for a weekend and knit up The Stone and Arrow Winter Set. Designed in bulky yarn, The Arrow Headband and The Stone Scarf come together in a snap. And with simple repeating patterns, they're perfect for confident beginners looking to expand their knitting skills.
The Stone Scarf got its name from its 3D texture, created by alternating knits and purls, that resembles a stonewall. The quirky stone-like bumps are tempered by a garter-stitch border and a slipped selvedge for a tidy edge.
• 2 balls (each 150 g/225 m) Schachenmayr SMC Tweed Montage* in Dusty Ranch (actual amount used for scarf: approx. 322 m)
• 1 7-mm knitting needle
*If you are having difficulty finding the Schachenmayr SMC Tweed yarn, try Noro Obi or Noro Kama. Both are available online and can be shipped to Canada. Both give very similar stitch gauge and have a nice gradual colour change.
Lana Gross Medio is also very close in colour. This yarn can also be purchased online, but be advised that the shipping costs may be hefty. Lana Gross Medio is thinner than what the pattern calls for, so if you decide to use this yarn you should cast on 34 sts instead of 24, and follow the pattern exactly as it’s written. The width will be roughly the same.
14 sts/25 rows = 10 cm/4 inches in Basket Welt Stitch
Basket Welt Stitch:
Rows 1 and 2: Sl1, k1 *p5, k5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 3: Sl1, knit all stitches to end of row.
Rows 4 and 5: Sl1, k1 *k5, p5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 6: Sl1, k1, purl to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1 to 6 for pattern stitch.
Width: 17 cm/6.8 inches
Length: 203 cm/80 inches
CO = cast on
k = knit
p = purl
sl = slip
st(s) = stitch(es)
* * = repeat instructions between * and * the number of times indicated
CO 24 sts.
Knit 8 rows in garter stitch, slipping first stitch at beginning of every row.
Row 9: K2, p all stitches to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1 to 6 of Basket Welt Pattern Stitch until scarf measures 198 cm/78 inches.
Knit Rows 1 to 3 of Basket Welt Pattern.
Knit 7 rows in garter stitch, slipping first stitch at the beginning of every row.
Cast off all stitches and weave in loose ends.
Keep your ears warm and toasty by knitting this stylish winter headband.
Looking for knitting tips? Check out Sheep & Stitch’s guide on how to knit.
Herb-Rubbed Roast Turkey with Fresh Sage Gravy<br>Photography by James Tse Credits: Herb-Rubbed Roast Turkey with Fresh Sage Gravy<br>Photography by James Tse