Surprised, are you? Yes, I have a couple of those wrist fitness trackers. No, I am not naming names as I am not recommending them. As someone who is conscious of her fitness and that of her family, I realized that all that a fitness tracker was doing was complicating things, adding to anxiety where there was no need for one and basically making me unhappier than happy.
Here are some reasons why I quit using my fitness tracker:
1. 10,000 steps a day to a healthy life is a myth:
Yes, you read that right. There is no scientific basis for 10,000 steps that WHO and American Heart Foundation recommend that you must be taking everyday in order to be healthy. Most active people do not walk that much. If you play any sport or do fitness activities like strength training etc., you don’t even need to walk that much. You are still fit. No one has tested if 6000 or 8000 steps keep you equally fit. This is an extremely arbitrary measure, and there is no reason to believe that it is better than say 7500 steps. Here is an article that you may like to read to understand this myth. Hence the tracking of that goal by fitness trackers was quite redundant.
2. Constant tracking may cause anxiety:
Do you remember your childhood? I remember being very slim and very active. My dad would regularly play badminton. And all that he measured his fitness by was whether he had good stamina to get through his daily activities, a flat tummy and flexibility in his limbs. I can’t believe that we have come to a stage where we are counting steps. I know of people who will spot walk or jog because they have not completed their quota of steps for the day. There are those who are depressed that they can’t workout when they are sick. Yet others will push themselves when sick to reach their daily goals. This is sheer madness. It takes away the pleasure of working out to nurture your body but turns it into a competition or a rat race.
3. It may be too daunting for those starting out:
Tracking every movement and then falling short of peers may end up demotivating someone from the fitness routine altogether. While having a fitness buddy or a community to cheer each other is a productive move, often those using fitness trackers may end up feeling small and low on confidence when they constantly don’t reach the inflated goals that others are achieving. Those with lifestyle diseases or sedentary lifestyles may start small and slowly build their fitness goals. But trackers may end up demotivating them. I would suggest using time as a tracking measure. Eg. 30 minutes of brisk walking or cycling. Then slowly increase the number of rounds or distance that you can do.
You may like to read: How to Stay Consistent with Your Fitness Plan
4. Number of steps do not take into account the intensity of activity
Like I mentioned earlier, it is important that you raise your heart rate adequately when you exercise so that you have better protection against heart disease and other lifestyle diseases. A fitness tracker will consider one step taken at a very slow pace on par with one step taken by those doing high intensity exercise like playing a sport, running or doing strength training. Both are clearly not the same. Staying active at home is definitely recommended, but if you desire to be fit and toned, you have to include higher intensity workouts in your fitness regimen. Number of steps is clearly not the right measure to use.
You may like to read: 9 Beginner Tips for Women Starting Strength Training
5. The Inconvenience
Some people consider their fitness bands a fashion statement or perhaps snob value as they automatically now belong to a ‘fit’ club. For me, it is an inconvenience. I used to forget wearing it when I took it off while taking a bath or during the night. And when I did I obsessed over documenting all that missed activity. My younger son though loves wearing his. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Hence, overall I feel so much more at ease when not wearing a fitness tracker. If you still wish to use it, don’t track daily but maybe do it weekly. Also keenly monitor if just the act of wearing the tracker is causing adverse behavior changes in you. I have felt that excessive tracking eg. Of calories in food, of the number of books you read, of the number of steps daily are some instances that suck out the joy from doing these activities and introduce a level of worry and competition. I know of people who start worrying about how much they would workout even before they have enjoyed that slice of cake on their plate. So absolutely terrible, isn’t it?
I am not saying that one must not track one’s progress or fitness goals, but do it with broader trackers that do not make you crazy on a daily basis. I use Google Fit just to track the time I spend when doing intense exercise. Rest of the day, I have no need to track my footsteps.
I would love to hear your views about the same.
If you liked this post, do share with your friends.