David has worked in the fitness sector across the UK and Europe for more than 20 years. As CEO of Myzone and ex-CEO of ukactive (, his mission is to get 'more people more active...

Do you own a fitness tracker? As well as measuring distance and pace, they’re vital for monitoring your heart rate. You need to understand what they can do for your health so they don’t end up in the back of your drawer with the loose batteries and old phone.

The activity tracker market has expanded dramatically in the last two years. Measuring distance and pace are pretty standard, but the most important one is to be able to track and record data on your heart rate. This shows how intensely you’re exercising.

Why is this useful? To get the most out of exercise, whether running, cycling or anything else, to get fitter and healthier you need make progress. By knowing your heart rate you can understand how hard you’re working and not just how you’re feeling. Armed with this knowledge, you can vary the intensity of your exercise to push yourself harder next time. All this information can also be displayed in readable charts – so even if you don’t fully understand the data, you’re able to see if you’re improving or not. Everyone gets encouraged when they see progress. You can be training hard but the improvements are not always obvious unless you know what your body is doing.

Share your progress
Your tracker should form a part of your wider exercise routine and use them as an additional tool to keep motivated. They allow you to compare your progress and share successes, both big and small, with others so you’ll be accountable not only to yourself.

Trackers are often best used when part of the tech hub of a wider social community. Some exercise groups track your efforts in real time and integrate that with wider online communities, where you can log your miles or the points you get from meeting certain challenges.

Activity trackers won’t do the hard work for you, but they can become one of the important tools you use to motivate yourself.