By: Erin Mahoney
There’s a good chance you already have a smart watch, but do you know how to maximize your wearable technology for motivation? The device you have on your wrist is more than just to tell time and track your steps. Instead, you should look at your wearable technology as your personal motivation tool. Competitions, biofeedback, goals and badges, and even a personal trainer are all ways your device can help keep you on track.
If you love fitness, chances are you also love competition. What better way to keep your motivation levels high than setting fitness competitions with your activity tracker? They’re proven to help you up your fitness game and easy to set up.
Why Fitness Competitions and Wearable Technology Works
We know using your smart watch to participate in a fitness or health competition works for several reasons.
By participating in a competition, you’re held accountable to your fitness goals. Most people won’t enter a competition without even a slight expectation to win. One thing you’ll see repeated as a benefit of wearable technology is the concept of cognitive dissonance. In short, our brains don’t like to be inconsistent with our actions. This means, your behaviors will start changing just because of something your brain has committed to. Even if you don’t win your fitness competition, participating in the game will increase your likelihood of working out. This in itself is a win.
When you know others are watching you, you tend to try harder. When you have friends you like or respect, you tend do more of what they do. Participating in a fitness competition with your smart watch is a great way to get the positive benefits of social influence. Especially in a time where you might not be at the gym as much, the Village still aims to keep you engaged with MYZONE competitions. Just as a group training session or group fitness class gives you an extra “push” for your workouts, so will the use of a wearable device.
When physical activity becomes “a game” it adds an element of fun. Too often, people will think of working out as a chore. But staying connected and competitive with your fitness tracker adds an element of fun that otherwise might not exist. You can increase the fun factor of fitness competitions by changing up the goals. If your competitors are all using an Apple Watch the scoring is simply based on points. This is good because it accounts for movement calories, exercise minutes, and stand hours. To keep things interesting, try data outcomes linked to the following:
- Minutes Exercising
- Daily steps
- Calories burned
- Types of exercise used
- Most badges in a month
- Biggest variety of exercise types
If you and your friends have different brands of smart watches or general wearable devices, worry not! There are still plenty of apps you can use to aggregate the data and track progress in a competition.
Goals and Badges
Goals help you know what you want to accomplish. Badges give you low value incentives to achieve your goals. It has been scientifically proven that goal setting in health and fitness increases the likelihood of your success. Goals can be outcome, performance, or process related and most wearable devices will let you track each of these.
- Outcome goals include when you expect to achieve at the end of your fitness journey. In most cases outcome goals for health and fitness include weight loss, body fat loss, or lean body mass gains. Although your wearable device won’t directly track this, it could sync to technology that does. For example, some scales such as Quardio will measure your weight and body fat percentage. This type of smart scale will then sync to your health data and smart watch. This is great because as you lose more weight, you’ll burn less calories per day. So, keeping this info up to date on your wearable device will increase accuracy in data,
- Performance goals are less about the end and more about the actual workout session. For example, hitting your anaerobic threshold five times during a workout is a performance goal. Heart rate monitors like MYZONE easily track this information and sync to your devices. Other performance goals can include running a mile in a certain amount of time and achieving a specific pose in yoga. These are less common in wearable technology except running and other cardio related goals. Nonetheless they are another type of goal you can set to enhance your motivation.
- Process goals, sometimes called short term goals, are the ongoing activities you need to do to achieve your goal. Process goals can include logging your food, achieving a daily step count, and burning a certain number of calories. There are many process goals you can track with wearable technology. These goals are guideposts to help you know if you are on track to achieve your outcome goals.
No matter what, setting all three types of goals will enhance your motivation. Smart Watches specifically will offer badges for certain goals accomplishments. For example, your Apple Watch will give you an award if you hit 200% of your daily movement goals. However, you can achieve other performance goals such as doing a specific workout for the first times.
Badges are great for motivation because they are low stakes with low incentives. When you accomplish something, such as a 200% active calories badge, there is no tangible incentive. You don’t get more money. You don’t win a free meal. It’s simply a digital badge or a gold star. This works because it translates better for intrinsic motivation. Simply put, the greater your intrinsic motivation levels are, the more likely you are to stick with your healthy habit.
To increase your motivation levels even more, you can share your digital badges on social media. This further gives you benefits of motivation through social influence.
Receiving real time data such as your step count, calories burned, heart rate, and more gives you immediate feedback on your health and fitness. Biofeedback works because of the psychological impacts of cognitive dissonance. It’s even more impactful when you set goals for yourself. If you’re taking our advice, you’ll sign up for competitions, set goals, and work with personal trainers at The Village. If you do all these things, you’re committed. When you have commitment, biofeedback will increase your awareness to how you’re doing every step of the way. Biofeedback, when paired with commitment, is powerful. For example, if you’re in a step competition to hit 10,000 a day and your smart watch reads that you’re only at 2k by 5pm, you might be more likely to go for a walk.
Similarly, on a smaller scale, you will be more likely to get general activity in throughout the day. For example, maybe you’ll park farther away at the grocery store. Or maybe you’ll make multiple trips back to the car when bringing your bags in. You may find yourself doing more household chores. All of this is related to the positive psychological impact wearable technology and biofeedback has on your healthy behaviors.
Personal and Group Training
Once upon a time, personal trainers and group coaches only had the time you were in front of them to evaluate if you were working hard enough toward your goals. Now, this information is just one of many data points fitness professionals have to use when working with clients. Your group exercise instructor can see how hard you’re working in cycle with MYZONE. Because they’re great coaches, they can use this information to motivate you more or even to tell you to back off if you need more recovery.
Personal trainers love wearable technology because they can know even more about what you’re doing in between training sessions. This allows them to be even more exact with their fitness and nutrition programming. Collectively, personal and group trainers give you accountability and motivation. When you have a fitness tracker and share the data with them, they can do their job that much more effectively.