Easy methods to get extra information out of your tracker

You might think you know the capabilities of your watch or bracelet, but you're probably underusing some valuable features. This little device on your wrist doesn't just log strenuous vertical climbs and horizontal downtime. Trackers use proprietary algorithms to provide unprecedented access to information about your body. But it only helps if you know what to look out for. Check out these untapped forces for actionable feedback to make your technology work for you and get more data from your tracker.

WHOOP sleep debt

According to a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, sleep is arguably the most important factor in recovery from physical exertion. While some trackers can go into great detail about how long you spend in deep, light, and REM sleep, WHOOP tells you how much sleep you need tonight to make up for the exertion and insufficient sleep of the night before. "For every 45 minutes of sleep debt accrued, executives had a 10 percent decline in their ability to function the next day, which should worry anyone looking to work at a higher level," said Kristen Holmes, VP of performance at WHOOP. By tracking this metric, you can ensure that your sleep needs and actual sleep match as closely as possible — guaranteeing you're firing on all cylinders whether you're at the CrossFit box or in the boardroom.

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Garmin body battery

Heart rate variability — the time between heartbeats — quantifies the effects of activity, stress, rest, and sleep into a nice little number that indicates how willing you are to handle stress at any given moment. You will probably start the day at 100am; that will fall as you exercise and deal with life's stressors. Your “state of charge” is neither good nor bad per se, it just helps you make informed decisions about sleep, exercise intensity, and alcohol consumption throughout the day. "If your phone has 10 percent left, it's not the best time to start streaming Netflix," said Phil McClendon, senior product manager for Garmin's wellness consumer wearables. "Same goes for your body — if your battery is on the low end, you're not going to be at your best during a hardcore workout." If it dips too low too soon, prioritize lower-intensity exercise, nap, or not out happy hour to relax.

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Polar FuelWiseImage courtesy

Polar Fuelwise

Just as they train to hit a certain pace on long runs or rides, endurance athletes dial in their fueling strategies to ensure they can actually go the distance. This process was mostly trial and error - until Polar introduced a smart tank assistant in its Vantage M2 and Grit X watches. Set your estimated exercise duration and intensity, and the FuelWise feature will do it
Calculate (based on your training history, certain physical parameters and the recommended carbohydrate intake rate) how many carbohydrates you need for this session. As you sweat, it sends energy reminders straight to your watch. Are you working harder than expected? Because your watch tracks how many calories you burn, FuelWise can automatically adjust its fuel and fluid alerts so you never hit that dreaded wall - especially useful for triathletes, marathoners, and ultrarunners.

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