Fitness trackers and other digital health tools can boost your health


Fitness trackers can be a great way to see how much you move during the day, and may even motivate you to do more. Most wearable fitness trackers come with a phone application so you can get a complete picture on a larger screen.

Many fitness trackers monitor:

  • Steps
  • Calories expended
  • Heart rate
  • Sleep quality
  • Time spent standing

However, researchers have found that having a wearable device does not automatically result in weight loss. Used correctly, a fitness tracker helps you understand when, if and how you’re making progress. You can then use that information to improve your health.

Start with goal setting

Fitness trackers are great tools for holding yourself accountable. The first step, though, is goal setting. Decide how you want your device to boost your health. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to succeed. For example:

  • “I want to increase my step count by 500 steps every day this week.” The alternative, “I want to get more steps,” is not as measurable.
  • “I want to burn 350 calories each day this week.” You can easily quantify your progress with this goal, compared to a less concrete one, such as, “I want to burn more calories.”

Be careful not to tackle too much, too fast. Make one or two achievable goals so you don’t overcommit and give up because you aren’t successful.

Track your progress regularly

Once you’ve set a measurable goal or two, use your device or the associated app to measure your progress. Start by setting aside a consistent time each day to check how you’re doing. A mid-day check-in will show whether you need to:

  • Plan a trip to the gym after work
  • Take a short walk around the office
  • Choose the stairs rather than the elevator

When you wake up each morning, put on your fitness tracker and recommit to achieving your goals for that day. By interacting with your tracker over time, you may develop a long-lasting, healthy routine.

Other ways going digital can improve your health

Health care is increasingly becoming a digital environment. Many health systems, including UCLA Health, have electronic health records (EHR). These make it possible for patients to stay on top of their health through online health portals (or apps) to:

  • Know when routine examinations, tests and immunizations are due.
  • View test results.
  • Track and renew medications.
  • Schedule appointments or message doctors about health concerns.

Digital tools are, more than ever, part of healthy lifestyles. Use them to help you understand your total health picture and to provide motivation. Learn more about myUCLAhealth, which gives you 24/7 access to your health record.