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Activity Trackers - From Success, to Failure?

Wearable technology (or fitness trackers) are extremely popular these days, and for good reason. There is a lot of data that these trackers can provide, all in efforts to help you improve your health. General health recommendations are to get 10,000 steps per day, so monitoring and tracking your daily activity is of course the best way to know if you are close, or hitting, this particular goal.

Most modern trackers also estimate calorie expenditure, distance walked, and active minutes. Calories expended are a rough estimate based on your height, weight, gender, and overall activity – but it is just that, an estimate. Active minutes are usually determined by how quickly you acquire steps (signifying a faster pace). These data are great to provide a general picture of your daily trends, and can be useful tools if tracking calories, working to lose weight, or even trying to monitor sleep.

Some trackers go so far as to provide daily or weekly challenges, where you can challenge your device friends to walk the most steps. This type of challenge can be so fun and motivating, helping you to reach your goals and be more active overall. However, these challenges can also sometimes be the very downfall to an activity goal, especially one that is not based solely on steps achieved.

For example, a client has started exercising and using an activity tracker to measure her steps. She has been in consistent workweek challenges and is motivated by the fact that she wins them often. However, she has started to have pain in her heel from plantar fasciitis, and walking is becoming more difficult. She has stopped winning the challenges, and feels completely demotivated. It is at this point that the tracker is preventing her from focusing on her true goal – exercise. Swimming and biking do not provide steps on the tracker like walking does, so those exercise minutes feel “wasted”. Does this sound familiar?

If you have found yourself losing motivation to stay active because your health goals are not aligned strictly with steps, it may be time to either step away from the tracker, or at least from the challenge groups. Develop some games with yourself, or consider joining some online challenge groups that focus moreso on minutes exercised. Your health goals should never be put on the back burner because they can’t be specifically measured on a tracker! Reach out today if you’d like help getting back on track. You do not need to fail in your efforts to succeed.

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