Seniors Use Activity Trackers Differently

With just two more weekends left to shop for the holidays, it’s time to narrow down a gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list.  And more often than not, older adults who have accumulated more than they believed possible are the tricky ones to surprise.  A gift that enhances well-being is usually appreciated and activity trackers have been a popular item in recent years, but a new study finds that trackers are most often used when they create a sense of community rather than competition.  Perhaps we’re on to something there.

A simple activity tracker that allows the user to share data with friends and family can enhance the enjoyment of physical activity, especially when exercise is done with a partner.  When picking out a tracker, look for one that allows friends to join a community or receive fitness motivation and challenges.  From the latest Fitbit Smartwatch with built-in Alexa, heart rate tracking, music and on-screen workouts to the sleek, simple Misfit Ray, there is a fitness tracker for every need and every price range. 

According to research published in the journal Telemedicine and e-HEALTH, older adults are more likely to use fitness trackers over the long-term if they can also use the device to monitor health as well as activity levels.  A device with a heart-rate monitor, for example, would enhance the experience.  Many wearables also track sleep, swimming, calories burned and distance travelled in addition to steps.   The study also found that seniors who wore their device daily, exercised regularly, were well educated, were female and didn’t have any chronic health conditions were more like to continue to use their tracker longer than 6 months.   Study participants reported they were more likely to continue to use their activity tracker if it wasn’t big and bulky. 

The primary takeaway from the Michigan State University study was that older adults are more likely to keep using their activity tracker if they don’t feel in competition with others but were able to use their device in collaboration with friends and family. 

The benefits of using an activity monitor include increased fitness and strength as well as better overall health and a greater sense of motivation to keep exercising regularly.  A tutorial on how to use all the functions would probably ensure greater success; as would the ability to track activities such as gardening that older adults enjoy.   Happy Shopping!