How to Track Your Fitness When You’re Not Exercising

Maximize the amount of moving around you do while you are going about your day.

Maximize the amount of moving around you do while you are going about your day.

How much exercise are you getting when you aren’t exercising? That’s the question that a new generation of personal fitness trackers ask. Worn on your wrist or as a pendant, these high-tech devices track your fitness when you’re not exercising by recording the number of steps you take and how fast you’re moving. Paired with information you enter into an app or on a computer about your food intake and what kind of exercise you’re doing, these fitness trackers can tell you exactly how many calories you’re burning, when you’re the most active, and even how well you’re sleeping.

The idea is to maximize the amount of moving around you do while you are going about your day: walking from the car to the door, ambling around the grocery store or the office, going to and from your table at a restaurant. All this walking adds up – and your tracker will tell you exactly how much. If you’re not walking enough each day, you’ll know, and be able to take action by doing a few laps around the office, getting off the subway a stop early and walking home, or adding in some jumping jacks at your desk. (Of course you can always up your quotient of formal exercise by going to the gym, jogging, cycling, or the like — but you may not have time for that in your busy day.) You can make this time count toward your fitness goals. If you’re meeting your steps-per-day or active-minutes-per-day goals too easily, just raise them.

Team Max has been using the FitBit this summer to track our daily number of steps. We started with the default goal of 10,000 steps per day. That’s not much in New York City, where MaxMyInterest is headquartered; here, most people walk much more than that just to get around town, and we typically found our rubber FitBit bracelets buzzing triumphantly before dinnertime. But when out of the city, we found that the amount of time spent in cars traveling between one place and the next cut down severely on our walking. A day in the country could tank our FitBit results, so much so that we resorted to extra walking on purpose. And that, of course, is the point. If you are thinking of getting a fitbit to help you keep track of your steps (or just for general exercise), then you might be wondering is it worth getting the heart rate monitor? And hopefully when I wrote “extra walking on purpose”, will tell you all that you need to know, because yes they are worth it.

It’s also possible to look chic while wearing these trackers, even at the office. Fashion maven Tory Burch is now selling a line of FitBit Flex bracelets and pendants, ranging from patterned rubber bracelets to a metal hinged version ($195). Even in FitBit’s original black or blue, it’s always stylish to be in shape.