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Are Health Tracking Technologies a Fad?

With the advent of Apple’s third “watch” and the hype surrounding the health features of wearable devices, health tracking technologies certainly seem all the rage.  According to International Data Corporation, over 102 Million wearable units, offered by a wide range of brands from FitBit to Garmin, were shipped worldwide in 2016. But these healthy technologies are not appealing to everyone, and there are a few reasons why.

No magic bullet

First, people purchase health tracking tech largely to lose weight and health trackers simply don’t work in that regard. A University of Pittsburgh study found devices which monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches.

Second, more than failing to help users achieve their goals, a survey of wearable consumers conducted by Endeavor Partners revealed most of us lose interest in using our health tracking technology a few months after we start. I have drawers full of the latest devices I’ve tried over the past few years.

Third, the accuracy of many of these devices is questionable. Recent studies, like the one conducted at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, showed that Fitbit devices miscalculated heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute on average during more intensive workouts. This can lead to false assumptions regarding caloric burn rates and other conclusions users may derive from the devices.

A step back

Finally, we should all starting to rethink how we use tech in general. Millions are buying fitness trackers, and other health and fitness technologies, despite misgivings and this isn’t expected to stop anytime soon. Having the latest and coolest technology is likely driving consumption but there is a move afoot to rethink how and why people use tech in the first place. More and more people are stepping back to take stock of what they are seeking in their lives and the “gadget addiction” that is preoccupying so many of us. The slow tech movement is real and we don’t necessarily need another fitness device to help us to lose weight and get healthier.

Technology will continue to evolve; fitness and health trackers will get better and overcome their limitations eventually.  In the interim following a regime of healthy eating, regular physical activity and meditation can lead to an improved life and a happier you. If you need a piece of technology to achieve this goal is up to you but it’s certainly not a requirement.

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