Fitness trackers are all the rage right now, but are they healthy? With a quick survey of my office of twelve people right now, I can see five of those ever-present fitness trackers, and I know that at least three of the seven remaining have fitness tracking apps on their phones. Everybody has their different reasons for introducing a fitness tracker into their lives—from motivation to a need for organization—but is it helpful for everyone in all cases? Here are some pros and cons of fitness tracking. Let’s begin with the positives.
You can see your progress.
Being able to visibly track the progress you’ve made can be an extremely validating experience. Keeping a consistent fitness schedule can be very hard, so having the fruits of your labor displayed can be just the encouragement you need to keep going.
You will probably move more.
Most of us probably don’t realize how sedentary we are during most days. Even the fittest of us have our lazy days, especially if you work at a desk job. A fitness tracker can highlight this for you and encourage you to get up and move—even if it’s just taking the stairs or walking around at lunch.
You can create a network of support.
Most fitness trackers and fitness tracker apps allow you to connect with the social network of your choosing. You can monitor each other’s progress and show your support through likes and comments. The social pressure (as long as it doesn’t become too overwhelming) can also act as an accountability factor.
You can set—and achieve—personal goals.
The feeling of accomplishing a goal is pretty much unparalleled. The beauty of the personal goal features on fitness trackers is that you can completely personalize what you want to accomplish. There are countless guides online on how to run a 5k or train for a half marathon, but what if you just want to be able to run a mile in under 9 minutes? Personal goals allow you that flexibility.
You can get fixated.
Like any other form of religious documentation, tracking your fitness can quickly become a problematic fixation. Sure, a tracker can help you feel motivated by showing you your progress day by day, but what about the days when you just aren’t feeling it? It’s good to take a mental and physical break every once in a while. You need rest! If you become too reliant on documenting every bit of food and movement in your day, you can easily accidentally ignore other health considerations.
You can overdo it.
Much like the fixation con, fitness trackers can lead you to overexert yourself to keep up with your progress. They can help you see you steady progression in a positive direction, but thinking that you’re going to keep progressing in as quick a pace as you did when you first began your fitness journey can lead to injury or burnout.
You can lose your joy.
When the most important factor of your workout becomes determined by the spikes on a line graph or an uptick in step counts, you’re forgetting one the most crucial factors of health—joy! Working out feels good! If the joy slowly leaves your work-out routine, you’re much more likely to abandon it once the going gets tough.
You can drown in a sea of competition.
While the networking aspect of fitness trackers can be a positive thing that creates an environment of support, it can just as easily become a feeding ground for competition. Comparing yourselves to others can be extremely unhealthy, not just for your social relationships with those you care about most, but also for your own self-esteem.
So there you have it. This post is not to say that fitness trackers are evil, but to lay out the potential downfalls that can come with incorporating one into your daily health routine. As long as you keep these cons in mind, track away!
Cooke, Sarah. “Pros And Cons Of Fitness Trackers.” The Alternative Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 June 2017.
Smith-Janssen, Karen L. “3 Things You Need To Know Before You Shell Out For A Pricey Fitness Tracker.” Prevention, n.d. Web.