These days, technology has just about permeated every aspect of our lives, from social media to personal finance, to online dating and e-college. We have developed a reliance on tech to fulfill our every need as a society, and that’s no accident; for almost any need you can think of, there’s most likely an app for it. This has become especially prevalent in the fitness industry with the advent of FitBits, step trackers, and other devices meant to encourage an active lifestyle. Wearable technology has gained substantial momentum among those looking to get healthier and for good reason. Present the option of a wearable fitness tracker to people and most think, “Oh you mean I just slap this fancy watch on my wrist and I’ll be on my way to being fit and awesome?! Shut up and take my money!” We rely on technology to tell us when to pay our bills, who to wish a happy birthday to, and to even find us a romantic courtship, we might as well depend on it to make us healthier!
However, studies are emerging that indicate that these fitness gadgets may not be as beneficial as once perceived, and may even cause more harm than good in some cases.
One such study was conducted in Singapore with a group of 800 participants divided into four groups: ones who received a Fitbit, a Fitbit plus cash, a Fitbit plus charity-based incentives, and a control group. All groups were encouraged to eat healthier and exercise more.
At the six-month point, users with the cash incentive outperformed the control group the most. When they then took away the incentives, only about 10% of the total participants continued using the FitBit. The 90% that scrapped it said that because they didn’t receive any new information besides the same old step and activity count, they didn’t see the point in continuing its usage. This makes plenty of sense, considering most people are already aware of whether they’re active or inactive and don’t necessarily need a little gadget to tell them.
Another study followed a group of 470 people ages 18-35 with BMIs from 25-39. All of the participants began the first six months on a low-calorie diet and regular exercise program. After six months, one half of the group was asked to manually record their fitness and diet, while the other half were given a fitness tracker. Two years later, both groups remained active, but the group with the fitness trackers actually lost less weight than their pen-and-paper counterparts.
One possible reason for this surprising disparity is the fact that users were able to justify straying from their diets as long as they met the daily step goals of their trackers. However, as any reader of this blog should know, one cannot simply outrun a bad diet.
Although there is a lack of longitudinal long-term studies of these devices, several seem to indicate similar results. Many users report starting off strong but eventually getting bored and abandoning their fitness trackers. The studies that did find the most success were among those who were already dedicated to their health and fitness journeys. In other words, having a fitness gadget did not make any real difference in the long-run.
So now you’re telling me I might as well trash my $70 fit tracker?!
Well no, not just yet. Like I mentioned, those who find the most success with fitness trackers are those who are already committed to their health and fitness paths. Chances are if you’re reading this blog or even better, training with us at The Training Spot, you’re one of those people! A fitness tracker can be a welcome addition to your already healthy lifestyle. Not quite one of those people yet? Don’t worry, we’ll help you out. Just keep reading.
What all of these studies seem to tell us is something we have all known all along: nothing replaces good old-fashioned hard work and dedication. No app, device, or gadget in the world can give you everything you need to be successful in fitness because most of what you need comes from within, in the form of drive, willpower, and determination. If they do make an app for that, please tell me! Until then, The Training Spot can supply all of the accountability, knowledge, and motivation you’ll need in your journey to a healthier life. Not sure where to start? We’ve got your back. Fill out the form below and we’ll contact you ASAP about starting those first steps, no gadget required.