The benefits of activity trackers for older people

Previously on the blog we have talked about the importance of older people embracing new technology and we’ve gone into detail about the benefits of using things such as social media, apps, video games, virtual reality and virtual home assistants.

Today we want to talk about the benefit of fitness trackers as contrary to many people’s beliefs they’re not just for young gym bunnies. They can be a great tool for helping people get a better night’s sleep, recording and monitoring what they’re eating and drinking and motivating you to get moving, which are all important for older people and for anyone who might be living alone.

Monitoring sleep

Not getting a full night’s sleep can affect how you function the next day. It’s also vital to good health as having bad sleep on a regular basis can put you at a higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Most fitness trackers have built in monitors which measure how long you slept for and the quality of your sleep. At night your body cycles through different sleep stages. It usually moves from light sleep, which makes up most of your night and promotes mental and physical restoration, to deep sleep, which aids physical recovery and aspects of memory and learning, back to light, then into REM, which occurs later at night and has been shown to be important for your memory and mood.

A tracker can show you how long you were in each of these sleep stages.

Each morning you’ll be able to see how you slept and how long you spent in each sleep cycle. As well as being interesting, the results can give you a good indicator if you perhaps need to be getting an earlier night or if you’re getting above or below the recommended eight hours per night. It’s also very helpful for carers to see how long and how well a service user has slept.

Motivation tool

It’s more important than ever that people of all ages keep as active as possible and fitness trackers are a great motivational tool to help you get up and get moving.

Fitness trackers can monitor how many steps you take per day, so setting this at an achievable and realistic amount based on your mobility, gives you good motivation to meet your target and beat it the next day.

Older people can get huge benefits from going on a daily walk and getting their step count up. Walking can help keep the heart strong by increasing heart rate. It can help strengthen bones and helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis. It’s also great for your mood and mental well-being to get up and go for a walk, get some fresh air and maybe chat to fellow walkers too.

Many trackers now also come with alarms that go off when your level of activity falls below a certain point, reminding you to keep moving.

If you’re using a fitness tracker, you should always be mindful of your mobility and not over do-it. If it’s easier to walk around the house, make sure it is safe to do so and there are no risks of tripping or injuring yourself.

Monitoring diet and water intake

It’s important to have a healthy, balanced diet. We have previously blogged about the benefits of a healthy diet and have given lots of meal ideas and top tips on incorporating certain foods into your diet too.

With a fitness tracker you can input exactly what you’re eating, and it will tell you the nutritional information of each item. It’s great if you want to look back on it to remind yourself of what you’ve eaten that week or to see if you’ve had enough vegetables or fibre. It’s also very helpful for carers or loved-ones as they can tell whether the person they’re looking after has eaten properly that day.

As well as food, fitness trackers also allow you to keep a record of how much water you’re drinking. Again, this is a good indicator for carers and loved-ones who might be worried you aren’t drinking enough. You can also set reminders on many of the trackers to tell you to drink.

It’s so important that we are able to retain our independence as we get older and we need to take responsibility for our own health, fitness and diet if we want to be independent for as long as possible. It might take some getting used to, much like using any new technology would, but we’d highly recommend fitness trackers for older people as a convenient way of keeping active and motivated in daily life.