Our tips for choosing the right self-tracking device.

As more self-tracking devices reach the market, the options for consumers have never been more diverse. How do you choose the tracking device that's right for you? We have some suggestions!
1. Define your goals.
Do you want to monitor a health condition, lose weight, meet a daily activity goal, or are you simply curious about your day-to-day habits? Maybe all of the above! Think about what data is important to you. Knowing what you hope to achieve will allow you to choose the device that's right for you.
2. Dare to compare!
Despite some similar characteristics, not all health and fitness devices are created equal. A simple pedometer or activity tracker may not be enough if you're interested in the "big picture" of your life and health. Get a better value by choosing a wearable that can simultaneously track multiple vital signs, and avoid the pitfall of having to wear too many devices at once. Products that provide information on heart rate, breathing, and activity will allow you to pick and choose what you want to track, and how you do it.
Comfort and practicality are also important considerations. The most effective devices are the ones you won't really notice as you go through your day. Choose an option that you can wear discreetly - not one that you will need to remove frequently, adjust, or reconfigure. That way you'll have all the benefits of self-tracking without having to spend too much time fussing with the device itself. Quantifying your personal data is most effective when it's done consistently - so choose a product that can be incorporated into your life as seamlessly as possible.
3. Deciphering the data
Is having raw data enough? Or do you need more explanations and interpretation? Choose a device that will give you the insight you need, not just numbers. Saving your data over time to compare results might be more effective than a moment to moment analysis.
For people monitoring health conditions, advice from a doctor or health professional is essential. If this is one of your self-tracking goals, make sure to use a device that both measures the vital signs you are concerned with and gives long term results that you can easily share with your doctor.
Above all - have fun with the results! Tracking your vital signs is a unique way to gain insight into your life and health. Whatever device you choose, you'll be making steps towards a more informed future. Enjoy!
(Illustration by Peter Crowther; Getty - Runner)

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