Should You Be Digitally Tracking Your Health: Yay or Nay?

Fitbits and the like became wildly popular some six years ago. Apple caught on a couple years later and threw in the Health app on the iPhone that naturally can’t be deleted. Many people started tracking their food consumption as a result, which led to a craze in health. But like every other trend, it slowly began to go out of style. Only a small percentage of the population insisted upon tracking everything they ate and each bout of physical exercise they engaged in. Not only that, but they continuously pushed their friends into participating in various competitions such as the “Weekend Warrior.” This initially went from genuine encouragement to all-out bullying.

The thing of it is, trackers have some serious disadvantages. For example, they don’t exactly track the amount of calories you burn during a workout that doesn’t involve running, making it difficult to properly assess your balance at the end of each day. For example, say you spent an hour and a half sweating profusely in a Bikram yoga class. Your tracker will only note a small percentage of the calories you burned, thus encouraging you to under-eat, which you shouldn’t be doing if you’re exercising that vigorously.

Some people also start to exhibit frankly frightening behaviors when they use their trackers. For instance, if a person hasn’t quite reached their 10,000 step goal for the day, they might start to develop a pacing habit just to compensate for the missed movement. Also, it is possible that instead of enjoying a meal and entering it in the app after, they would go to their cookbook and enter the exact ingredients and their quantity. By the time this task was completed, their food would get cold and unappealing, at times to the point of being inedible. 

Also, tracking each and every aspect of physical life can get mighty tedious. Who has the time to figure out exactly how much water they drank that morning between using the water fountains in the office and a canteen without measurements in front of the TV? The whole thing ends up turning life into quite the downer.

Still, owning (and actually using!) a Fitbit has a slew of advantages for all demographics. Looking to lose weight? Provided that you enter all of your food properly, the partner MyFitnessPal app will help you control your calories by letting you know that you are eating too much or not enough for your current weight and level of exercise. It takes into account factors such as your age and level of activity throughout the day.

Trying to move more? The Fitbit family strongly encourages you to move the required 10,000 steps per day, rewarding you with a familiar buzzing on your wrist along with fireworks on your mobile device. Sounds corny but it works very well, much like the Avocado features on the Apple Watch. You can also compete against yourself or your tracker-wearing friends for level of movement during the week or on the weekend. This friendly championship serves to motivate each other to exercise more, much like having a gym buddy without having to actually be in a room that smells like dirty socks and is filled with people grunting as they lift weights that are far too heavy for their current build. 

 All in all, provided that you don’t have an addictive personality, owning a tracker of some sort can only benefit you. Used properly, they are designed to make you into a healthier person and are quite good at what they do.