Benefits to staying heart healthy by using a fitness tracker

Exercise is good for your heart and offers many benefits, but do you really know how much physical activity you are getting? If not, then try a fitness tracker.

“Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health,” says Curtis Steyers III, MD, BJC Medical Group electrophysiologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. An electrophysiologist is a cardiologist who specializes in treating irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). “Being active and changing your habits is important and tracking your fitness can help you when combined with a clear goal to shoot for, whether it be to lose weight or improve your heart health.”

Dr. Steyers answers questions about fitness trackers:

What are the benefits of using fitness tracker apps and/or devices for health tracking and motivation?
  • If you have a known or suspected heart rhythm disorder, personal fitness tracking devices can be helpful as an additional tool to help you and your physician track heart rates and rhythms over time. These devices are useful when the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (A-Fib), the most common heart rhythm disorder in adults, is in question. 

  • Personal health fitness tracker devices can empower you to directly monitor your own heart rate and rhythm. While a formal diagnosis of a heart rhythm disorder should not rely entirely on data from personal devices, these devices provide you with the tools to assist physicians with your care.  

  • Less sophisticated fitness tracking devices and apps can also be helpful for those who simply wish to increase their daily exercise activity. Immediate feedback in the form of a daily step count can provide powerful motivation to avoid an inactive lifestyle.

  • With a fitness tracker, it’s easy to find ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, whether it’s dedicated walking or gym time, walking during meetings or personal calls, parking the car farther away when going to a store, or simply taking the stairs instead of an elevator.

What specific features should you look for in a fitness tracker?
  • Step counts are good to have if your goal is to stay healthy and active.

  • Heart rate monitoring is useful to guide exercise intensity and can be a powerful tool to help your physician assess heart rate control over time.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) recording, available on certain devices, can be helpful for monitoring episodes of A-Fib.

What are the benefits of regular, moderate exercise?

Physical activity is important to stay healthy. In addition to avoiding tobacco use and following a heart-healthy diet, regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to remain healthy and generally feel well. Set a goal of getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise throughout the week. Even walking at a moderate pace can provide incredible health benefits, including:

  • Improved physical health

  • Improved mental health

  • Improved mood

  • Improved sleep

  • Increased daily productivity

  • Weight loss

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Reduced risk for coronary artery disease and diabetes

Although fitness tracking devices are fun and can be quite useful in specific instances, no technology is needed to stay healthy. Just get your heart rate up on a regular basis!

Visit to understand your risk for heart disease and meet our team of heart specialists.

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