Health & Wellness

Track Your Fitness Goals and Get Motivated

By Joanne Fortunato

By Joanne Fortunato
Finding the motivation to exercise and stay active is challenging, but MS can make it even harder. Fatigue is a major MS symptom, and it is easy to get caught in the downward spiral of being too tired to move, much less exercise. Luckily, with today’s technology, tracking your fitness is easier, and more exciting than ever before. There are quite a few device choices to help accomplish this goal. Most of them are wearable and active 24/7. They sync with mobile devices so you can track your fitness goals over longer periods of time.
These devices are popular for several reasons:
• They can be very motivating. If you have been inactive for a specified period of time, the device will alert you to be active.
• You can set your own goals. When you achieve a goal, the tracker alerts you with various beeps or other attention grabbers.
• They track your daily activity. Many devices have step counters, as well as heartbeat and sleeping monitors.
• Some can sync with a smartphone and alert you of incoming texts or calls.
The price points range widely and will reflect what type of activity is tracked and how many other features are included. However, if you do not want to buy a separate device, and you already own a smartphone, you can get an app that will bypass the need for an additional gadget. Some phones, such as iPhones, already have an app preloaded. However, the phone must be in a pocket or attached to your body to function in this capacity.
The Best Fit
All fitness trackers will monitor the number of steps you take in a day. Even a simple pedometer will accomplish this task. However, more data is needed to make it useful as a fitness tracker. Fitness trackers have an accompanying app that will sync to a mobile device or a computer. When purchasing a tracker be sure to read about the app as well.
First look for comfort. For example, I have very small wrists and many trackers are not small enough. Trackers do not necessarily have to be worn on the wrists, although this is the most common option. Some trackers, such as the Fitbit One, can be attached to a belt loop or other clothing.
Next, check out the available features. The features you choose will depend on your fitness capabilities. For example, if you want to use it when you swim, a waterproof feature is essential. Swimming is a common fitness choice for people who experience heat sensitivity. If you have MS, other features worth looking for are sleep tracking and heartbeat monitoring. Some devices even have features that help you meditate and take time to breathe.

For more information and ratings of available devices, search the web for “best wearable fitness trackers 2016.” You will find reliable reviews from PC Magazine, CNET, Top Ten Reviews, and TechRadar. You will find many other reviews as well, but these websites are reliable and accurate.
Staying App-tive
A health tracker is a great start, but you may need help changing your habits to create a healthier lifestyle. Tracking your fitness activity is only helpful if you have the means to be active. MS presents a whole host of obstacles that need to be considered. For example, I don't drive. So, getting to a gym or yoga class is more difficult for me.
If getting out of the house is difficult, there are still options available. Several apps exist for tablets and phones that can be used at home to aid you in meeting your health goals. It is easy to hook up your phone or tablet to a TV that has Bluetooth or wi-fi capability. Then you can bring a class or activity to you at home.
Many of these apps are free or low cost, but there are a few that require a paid subscription. Before you get too much information entered into an app, make sure that it is free and not just a sample to get you to subscribe. A web search will find so many results it can be overwhelming. You may want to consult your doctors before using an app. They can decide if the activity is appropriate for you. They may even have suggestions for which app(s) are best for you.
There is one more device that can be very useful in helping you attain your fitness goals: the Nintendo Wii. The Wii has been available for 10 years and has not changed much over time. However, it is such a great tool that it is worth mentioning. The latest version of the system, the Wii U, is now available, but the older version is still very useful and cost effective. One of the “games” you can get for the system is the Wii Fit.
Wii Fit comes with a disk and a balance board. These extra components are required to use the Wii as a fitness tool. Because the system is older, you will have to go to eBay, Amazon, or other sites that sell used items, and purchase a used one if you do not own one. You can get all the equipment you need for less than $150.
Wii Fit has quite a few programs that are great for those with MS. The Wii uses motion sensing technology, so as you move the screen moves. All you need is to have the controller in your hand and/or be standing on the balance board. The activities range from yoga, to obstacle courses, to balance and hula-hoop games. There is also a “Wii Fit Plus” version that includes even more games and activities. The game automatically tracks your progress, and it has virtual coaches to keep you motivated. One down side to this older technology is that entering information can be cumbersome. But, it is a small price to pay for an otherwise reasonably complete, and fun, fitness program you can use at home. As an added bonus, many of the other Wii games are great fun for family and friends. For more information search Wikipedia for Wii, Wii Fit, and Wii Fit Plus.