When the Wearable Meets the Road

We all know that the wearable market is booming. In fact, the IDC expects that the global wearable market will ship 45.7 billion units in 2015. While those numbers are impressive, studies have shown that roughly half of users abandon fitness trackers leaving them to gather dust on their desk or tucked away in a drawer. The devices are certainly cool – but they are only one means of measuring how you are taking care of your health. This summer, don’t fall into the category of wearable abandoners. Make a plan that, when empowered by your fitness tracker, will enable you to finally reach your goals. Not sure where to get started? These five steps will get you the most out of your brand new wearable device.

Do Some Research
The most popular wearables count more than just your steps and activity. Just because your wearable was a gift, doesn’t mean you can’t do some research to discover all its functions. It would be like getting an iPad and not looking up the new features or downloading the most popular apps. Many wearable health devices, especially fitness trackers, require a bit of discovery. For example, most people may not know that their Jawbone UP can remind you to get up and move around at set times during the day.

Don’t forget to read customer reviews and product reviews on sites like PCMag or CNET. Sometimes customer reviewers and anonymous commenters are a bit more candid than those with a byline and a professional reputation to maintain.

Set Goals
This seems like an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many people use their wearable with arbitrary or abstract goals. Without knowing the data, I would guess that those are a high majority of the 50 percent device abandonment rate. Without real short- and long-term goals to measure against, using your device every day will become a challenge when the excitement wears off. One of the easiest ways to stick to your goals – be they fitness, weight loss or overall health goals – is to use habit-forming apps. My favorites: BeeMinder and Gym-Pact. These apps use money as both a reward and deterrent for breaking a promise.

Find a Community
Most fitness trackers come with a social aspect built in. Connecting with your contacts or social media followers adds two levels of motivation to sticking with your wearable. First, there’s increased accountability. Hopefully, if your friends see you deviating from your progress, they’ll remind you to get back on track. Second, and perhaps most importantly, you can compete with your community. There’s nothing like a little friendly (perhaps not so friendly) competition to help you reach your goals.

Find the Right Platform
The proprietary platform that comes with wearables devices, while fine for the average user, won’t help people who need something a bit more robust or specific to their needs. For example, a diabetic would not be able to monitor his or her glucose level effectively on the FitBit app. They would need a diabetes-centric app like Fooducate or Glooko. Audit your goals and needs to find the perfect software platform for you.

Reward Yourself
Reaching goals, especially ones relating to health, is incredibly challenging. Motivating yourself to get into shape, to eat right, to quit smoking*, or just to track your every day health isn’t natural for most people. Give yourself a rest day or a cheat day for using your device for a certain number of days in a row. Just make sure your reward days don’t bleed into your regular days.

*Side note: if you goal is to quit smoking, you should NOT reward yourself with a cigarette. If you’re going to quit, you must stop smoking!

Wearables are fun and exciting, and when used correctly can help people get healthier. Do research and set goals. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to achieving your resolutions and becoming a healthier you.