Fitness tech is amazing. Many years ago, who would have thought we’d be able to know our heart rate, sleep patterns, workouts, calories and more just from a little wristband or clip? Recent Business Insider report shows the booming fitness tech market, especially the Apple watch is winning in the battle of fitness trackers “as smartwatches become increasingly easy to use and affordable, they will capture an even greater share of the wearables market, driving down demand for fitness- and activity-tracking bands, like the Fitbit. The fitness-band category will make up 42% of total wearables shipments in 2020.”
However, the question is not a battle of a smartwatch vs a fitbit band, but is whether your fitness tracker really benefit your workout progress and your ultimate health?
When it comes to workout progress, "You need to ask: Am I in effect adding stress when the goal is to reduce it?" psychologist Michael Woodward said. "If you spend as much time tracking your activity as you do actually engaged in the activity, that is probably going to hurt your progress. "
Some users benefit from apps because they provide a routine, but that they're "not a magic wand" to make you healthy, said Dr. Steven C. Garner, New York Methodist Hospital's chairman of radiology. “I find some people become too committed [to the tech] and then this becomes an overriding part of their life."
Even worse, fitness trackers can hurt your health if it instigates or encourages disordered eating behaviors, says Kaitlin Irwin of Proud2BMe, the youth arm of The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
In early January, Oral Roberts University announced incoming freshmen would be required to wear Fitbit bracelets as part of a physical fitness requirement. The Oklahoma university had previously required that students document their aerobic workouts in a journal. This policy ignited controversy, however, from critics who stated requiring students to track their workouts could be harmful for those struggling with eating- or exercise-related disorders. The use of the technology has the potential to help students, but it also has dangerous potential in terms of health and security.
First, exercise addiction is a disease that is related to intensely regimented fitness routines, and it can be aggravated by technologies like Fitbit bracelets.
Second, a Fitbit tracks cardiovascular exercising, which leaves out many types of exercise such as weight training, pilates and yoga — all of which are good for the body but don’t reap the typical points-based benefits on a Fitbit. It would be more beneficial for students to work with different types of exercise to find out what works best for them individually. Fitness level is not an arbitrary number that can be applied to each person, and not every workout is useful for each unique person.
Therefore, purchasing and wearing the device should not be a requirement for students at any college.
Bottom line, track in moderation. Don't let the act of tracking dominate your health strategy.