With the new year comes new goals and refreshed ambition toward fitness and activity. In today’s great age of technology there is a gadget or app to help with almost everything, including fitness tracking. The following are some pros and cons to using fitness and/or activity trackers.
You’ll learn how much you move (or don’t move)
Most people greatly underestimate how much they move in a day. Especially those who work desk jobs. Even if you work out an hour every day, if your day job consists of sitting, you’re getting one hour of activity per 23 sedentary hours. Simply put, not enough activity to counteract all that sitting.
Many people struggle with fitness goals simply because the only one they’re accountable to is themselves. An activity tracker can keep you honest. An added benefit for accountability is using a group platform to have a community of people encouraging one another. Using a social media platform geared toward fitness can help with accountability (because people can see your activities), and it can help you feel like you’re part of a larger community even if you’re doing most of your workouts alone.
Real time progress
Activity trackers can be great because you can see your progress in data and in real time. Most activity trackers also allow you to set goals on the device and celebrate when you reach those goals.
Shift in focus
Using a fitness tracker can create a shift in focus from wanting to feel good, to focusing too much on the numbers. How long, how far, how many calories, etc. It puts a number or a value on your activity, which runs the risk of creating shame if you don’t hit your numbers. It also takes the focus off how you are feeling, putting it instead on what you’re doing.
For many people tracking can lead to obsessive behaviour. This can be exacerbated by using social media platforms that create rewards and challenges for users. Having goals is great, and working for a reward is effective, but there comes a point in time where getting the reward or completing the challenge comes at the price of your health. Pushing too hard or too far beyond your fitness level can have negative effects.
For some, having other people to look to or to compare themselves to can work as motivation. For others, this can create insecurity and diminish self-worth. The most important thing to remember is that if you are feeling bad about yourself or what level you’re currently at, assess why you are having those feelings. If it is because you’re comparing yourself to others, ditch the social media and only use your data to compare yourself to.
Fitness and/or activity trackers can be a blessing or a burden depending on how you approach them and your personality type. Before buying the newest gadget, weigh the pros and cons of using a fitness and/or activity tracker to help you reach your goals.
Kristen Hansen, BA, CSEP-CPT, PFT-NAIT, NASM-CES, FRCms