Fitness training watches… for or against?

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Fitness watches are now extremely popular. There are tons of them, each one measuring different parameters: heart rate, burned calories, sleep quality, number of steps per day, number of « active » minutes per day etc. I have mine, I had to have one, like everyone, so I could compare myself to other, see how many calories I was burning during a workout. Was I training hard enough? Was I good enough? For me the experience wasn’t very positive at first because I was using the watch for the wrong reasons: comparing myself to others.

It’s important to understand that those watches use different mathematical equations from one bran of watch to another AND those equations are based on general averages of population that take into account age, sex, weight, height. SO, it’s impossible to compare oneself to others with such a tool. How many times do I read things like “I only burned 250 calories in 30 minutes, the others burn 400, I need to train harder”. No, not at all. The “others”, are they of the same age as you, the same weight, do they have the exact same watch as you? Two people in the same workout class for example will never burn the same amount of calories. The more weight you have to lose; the more calories you will burn. And even at the same weight, if one person has a better physical condition than the other, that person will burn less calories. So if this person compares herself to the other, she can falsely believe that she is not as good as the other, which is totally false. To the contrary, she burned less calories because the same workout requires less effort for her because she is in better shape.

If you use a training watch, use it to compare yourself to YOU, to follow YOUR progress! And don’t forget that its normal with time to burn less calories for the same workout because your physical condition is improving. It’s a good sign, your heart is getting stronger. That’s also why we need to change up our workout routines because with time if we want to keep getting results. By always doing the same workout, the body doesn’t burn as much calories because the body is in better shape and people hit a plateau.

Another thing to consider: a lot of people don’t do strength training because in most cases, the watch will indicate a smaller amount of calories burned compared to cardio training. It’s important to not only look at burned calories to determine if a workout was good, but the effect on the workout itself on us. Strength training is essential to maintain muscle tone with ageing and to increase metabolism. A person with good muscle tone will burn more calories at rest than another. The watch will not tell you this.

In conclusion, if you use your training watch to compare yourself to others, I highly recommend you change your way of using it because the comparison will never be exact and you risk falling in the negative state of criticizing yourself for nothing. Feeling inferior to others brings nothing good. If comparing yourself to others gives you a positive feeling and pushes you forward, then good, but remember that the feeling you get must be positive at all times. If you use your training watch to compare yourself to you, or to follow your progress and to push yourself, keep going! Moving is moving, no matter the amount of calories burned, for the fun of moving, for mental health, for the reduction of stress, the improvement of our physical condition, no matter what others are doing. We move for ourselves first and foremost!

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