Fitness trackers are designed to help people lead a healthier and more active lifestyle. However, the handy devices are often criticized. We explain what speaks for or against the use of fitness trackers and when it makes sense to use them.
More and more people value physical fitness. There are many ways to achieve this but what role does a fitness tracker play, how does it work? and what does it do? We show the advantages and disadvantages of fitness trackers and how they work.
How fitness trackers work
So incase you aren't aware the tracker is a small device that is usually worn on the wrist like a watch. It uses several sensors to record various data such as the number of steps, distance run, total sleep, calories burned, heart rate, and much more.
Usually, there is a suitable smartphone app for the respective bracelet, to which the device transmits the data. The user can then view, compare and check results there. In most fitness tracker apps, it is possible to record personal goals and to personalise the tracker using data such as gender, height, and body weight. Many apps are also directly connected to social networks. Apps such a starve act as fitness social networks sharing your run times distances and speeds.
Benefits of fitness trackers
By recording their data, the user gets a realistic overview of his or her entire movement behavior, things like sedentary periods active periods etc which can create better body awareness. These Trackers in conjunction with other apps can help with poor eating habits and remind you to record your meals making you more aware of the food you eat.
Fitness trackers often serve as a motivational aid for more exercise and sport. The number of calories burned or the distance recorded while jogging can be an incentive to improve performance. The motivational effect of the tracker can be further enhanced by social media because sharing tracked activities with friends can serve as an additional incentive.
Another advantage of these devices: Their operation is usually uncomplicated and intuitive. Long preparation before starting the recordings is usually not necessary. The transfer to the smartphone is also quick and easy via a Bluetooth connection. Fitness trackers are also suitable for people without much technical knowledge.
Disadvantages of fitness trackers
Fitness trackers are often imprecise. Often they measure too much or too little movement. Fast cycling, for example, is often misinterpreted as driving a car. Routes are also often not recorded correctly so that the course of the route is not 100 percent correct in the end. Extraordinary sports such as fencing can often not be recorded by fitness trackers.
The topic of data protection also plays a major role in fitness trackers, as very personal data is recorded and stored. The manufacturer can take the right to use the data for other purposes in the data protection declaration. Most often they are then used for personalized advertising. However, it is also said again and again that the sensitive information also gets through to health insurance companies for their use. It is therefore all the more important that you read the data protection declaration carefully before using it and know what data you are disclosing before you consent.
Although checking your own goals with the fitness tracker is motivating for many, it can also become an obligation for constant self-improvement and exercise obsession. For example, it is difficult for those affected to jog in the park without being recorded by the fitness tracker. Failure to achieve goals, measured by the fitness tracker, can lead to feelings of sadness or even leaving the user somewhat depressed. This is the exact opposite intended outcome for exercise as it should be a positive endorphins releasing activity.
There have also been some reports that constant use of these trackers can cause burns on the users arm. This is likely due to the heat built between the device and the skin causing condensation which irritates the skin. Again something to be aware and cautious of.
Conclusion: A useful tool to use with caution
Fitness trackers and the like can have a stimulating effect and have a positive effect on a healthy lifestyle. Especially for hobby athletes, they can be useful in everyday life, they can encourage increased activity and awareness of sedentary periods. However, when using a fitness tracker, you should always be aware of which data is collected and how it is used. If you keep this in mind, I would advise that they are a useful purchase and can be as inexpensive as £20.