What’s better at measuring your health — fitness trackers or you?
Many of us are used to measuring the success of our workouts by how out of breath we feel after that last mile, being able to lift more weight than yesterday, or the soreness in our glutes when we get out of bed in the morning. But what about looking down at your wrist?
Wearable fitness trackers are more popular than ever. According to The New York Times, the industry is projected to be worth $50 billion a year by 2018. But whether you’re wearing a Fitbit®, Apple Watch®, or Jawbone® device, many of us still question their validity. It’s yet to be proven if the data provided by fitness trackers better pushes us toward our health goals.
A 2015 editorial by The Journal of American Medical Association titled “Wearable Devices as Facilitators, Not Drivers, of Health Behavior Change,” said that more than half of fitness tracker purchasers eventually stopped wearing their device. However, studies have also shown that people who wear a fitness tracker are likely to take more steps each day.
The New York Times article suggests this: although fitness trackers may not have a huge impact at the individual level, the collective impact of 100 million people measuring their every move could provide largely valuable insights into what makes our population healthier.
The 100 million people wearing devices tells us one more important fact. People are interested in pursuing health and wellness initiatives.
Our recommendation? If your Fitbit encourages you to live a healthier life, wearing it should be a no-brainer. If you keep looking at your wrist during your run, ask yourself if it’s become a distraction.
Here are our suggestions for making the most of out of your fitness tracker:
- Wearables don’t know how exercise makes you feel. Never push yourself to uncomfortable levels just to reach a numeric goal.
- Technology doesn’t tell you when you can do more. In order to push past plateaus, continue to challenge yourself in your workouts. Try tracking your mileage or numbers of reps/weight to see if you are making progress.
- Don’t fall too hard into the competition. While the gamification of tracking devices is fun, comparing your health to others’ may not be the best measure of success. Everyone is different, which is why focusing on personal progress is more important.
- And finally, remember that fitness is one part of the equation. You’ll experience your best results when you track fitness, food intake, and sleep together. Whether you track it on your wrist or via another method is up to you.