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It feels like just about everyone we meet at workout classes (or even just at breweries) has some type of fitness tracker on their wrist, keeping up with their heart rate and the number of steps they've taken that day -- among measuring other components of their physical activity and health.

Is buying one of these fitness trackers worthwhile if you're trying to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle? We spoke with OrthoCarolina MPT, Carrie Rhodes, to discuss.

What Can Fitness Trackers Actually Track?

From Fitbit to Garmin and beyond, there are all kind of wearable fitness trackers on the market. They keep track of steps, sleep, heart rate, exercise, etc. depending on the type you use. Some of them can also be programmed with individual workouts, depending on your needs. 

"Fitness trackers are a great way to monitor your activity level," Carrie said. "They can help a person stay on track toward fitness goals, and they can show progress toward healthy lifestyle changes."

What Should You Look For In A Fitness Tracker?  

"You can pick your fitness tracker based on what you want to get out of it," Carrie put it simply. "If you want something basic to just keep track of steps, there are inexpensive options. There are also more advanced fitness trackers that keep track of exercise routines, sleep, cadence and distance of runs/cycling/swims, etc. that are a higher price point. This allows you to get out of it what you want."

Can Fitness Trackers Help You Live a Healthier Lifestyle?

Carrie said you should consider your lifestyle and daily routines when deciding which type of tracker would be best for you. For instance, the first question to answer may be: do you work at a desk all day? 

"Fitness trackers often give reminders for people to move," Carrie explained. "For someone working a sedentary job, this promotes a more active lifestyle and can cut down on some problems that occur from a desk job -- like low back pain, joint stiffness, neck pain, etc."​

​Beyond that, it may be worth considering whether wearing a fitness tracker might offer you some benefits from your employer.

"Some companies offer incentives based on activity and use [fitness trackers] to help monitor progress, then they can use this to help offer lower premiums and promote healthy employees," Carrie said. 

We asked Carrie whether she thinks that fitness trackers have any value from a physical therapy standpoint. 

"I think it is a great tool to use to help with recovery from an injury and resuming exercise," she said. "We set goals for patients as they progress through therapy -- walk a mile, climb a flight of stairs, etc. -- and a fitness tracker allows them to better monitor these things."

​Learn More About Health & Wellness From the Experts at OrthoCarolina

Whether you've recently experienced an injury or you just need help figuring out the best way to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, OrthoCarolina can help. Make an appointment at a location near you to start getting the treatment you need.