Over the past few years, we’ve seen ‘the quantified self’, ‘life logging’, and ‘health and fitness tracking’ emerge as buzzwords. They all refer to our ability to use smartphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers and other smart devices to keep track of our health and fitness indicators and habits.

Thanks to these devices – and a growing selection of health and fitness tracking apps – we can now keep track of the calories we consume, the steps we run or walk, our weight, sleep patterns, heart rate, moods, disease symptoms and much more besides.

This trend is empowering, giving us the ability to track our health and fitness using real data, rather than gut feel. It enables us to set short- and long-term goals and track our progress over time, as well as in real time. Here are four benefits you can get from self-tracking:

  1. Track your health and fitness goals

Unless you have the cash and time to spend on regular sessions with a personal trainer, setting fitness goals and monitoring your progress can be tricky. Android apps like Google Fit

let you to track your fitness, set goals and monitor your progress. The app includes customised coaching and actionable tips based on your health and activity history.

The benefits include getting feedback in real time about the progress you are making. It can be difficult to keep going when that spare tyre just won’t disappear after weeks of tough workouts. But with self-tracking, you’ll know for sure whether you are making progress or not, so that you get motivation to keep going or the insight to make changes to your routine.

  1. Take control of weight loss and nutrition

Your diet is driven by a range of factors, including your mood, the season and your social life. It can be hard to keep track of what you’re eating and the calorie content of your food since most humans have unreliable memories and a tendency to underestimate what they eat.

Self-tracking can help you to lose weight by becoming more aware of your eating habits. Android apps like MyFitnessPal and Lose It! help you set calorie intake goals, count the calories you eat, make more informed choices about what you eat and whether you need to lose weight or simply want to stay healthy.

  1. Improve your sleep

In today’s stressful world, all too many of us know what it’s like to suffer from insomnia or to wake up still feeling exhausted. But getting your eight to 10 hours of quality sleep each night is key to your health and happiness. If you are not sleeping well, you will want to find out why.

That’s where Android sleep tracking apps like Sleep As Android, Sleep Cycle and Runtastic Sleep Better can help. They enable you to track your sleep patterns and cycles, factors that contribute to poor sleep and more, so that you can take charge of your night-time rest.

  1. Manage and track chronic conditions

From back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, migraines to depression, many people live with physical and mental conditions that impair their quality of life. There are some apps that can help you to better understand your symptoms in relation to triggers in your lifestyle. This information can be useful to you and your doctor in managing your ailment.

Apps like My Pain DiaryFibro Mapp and Flaredown can help you to record when symptoms arise as well as events that coincided with them such as eating certain types of food, weather, or exposure to stressful events. Some also let you track the effectiveness of the treatments you took.

By Ernst Wittmann, Global Account Director MEA & Country Manager – Southern Africa, TCL