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Buying a Fitness Tracker For Mom or Grandma? Here’s How to Make Sure They Actually Use It

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As you look into all of the upcoming Black Friday sales this week, there’s a good chance you’re hoping to check a few people off your Christmas list along the way. Fitness trackers are a great choice for any loved one, but especially helpful when it comes to older family members. But how can you make sure they actually use them?

That was a question researchers from Michigan State University hoped to answer with a recent survey of adults 65 and older. They specifically looked at individuals who had maintained use of their fitness tracker for more than six months and observed any similarities in their usage patterns, health statuses, and activity levels. 

You might think that making it a competition between you and an older family member — like seeing who can get the most steps in a week — will inspire them to keep their tracker strapped on. According to MSU’s results, though, the exact opposite is true. Instead, that can leave older individuals feeling unmotivated and more likely to leave their wearable tech to gather dust. 

As much as you’d like your loved ones to use the tracker to stay as healthy as possible or alert you to any drastic changes like a troubling spike in heart rate or even taking a tumble while no one else is around — it won’t do any good if they refuse to wear the thing. 

So what’s the solution? “For older adults, motivation is about partnership and collaboration, such as walking together,” Anastasia Konova, an assistant professor on the research team explained in a press release. “It’s about being active together, not competing.” Basically, instead of challenging them to simply report back, these devices work better if you can find a way to either participate with them or perhaps help them join a group of other seniors they get along with to achieve the same goals together.

The team also found that older adults are more likely to use the trackers for longer if they offer a wider variety of functions, like showing how many calories they’ve burned, how far they’ve walked in a date, their heart rate, mood, and sleep patterns. 

Keeping all of this in mind while choosing the perfect fitness tracker for older family members can help you both maintain a peace of mind on top of a healthy lifestyle. (Psst: Click here to take a look at our list of this year’s best fitness trackers to get you started!)

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