How your fitness tracker sabotages your health

We talk about technology being addictive, changing how our brains work, distracting us and affecting our attention levels but this doesn’t seem to apply to fitness technology. 2014 research showed that over half of US consumers with an activity tracker don’t use them and one third of consumers stop using them within 6months.

It’s probably a good thing we’re not addicted to exercise trackers. While there’s a whole bunch of fitness trackers to track your food and exercise ostensibly to help you stick to your healthy habits and reach your goals faster, there’s a few things that could also be happening to stop you in your tracks.


1            It’s not just about counting calories

It’s true that if you consume fewer calories than you expend, weight loss happens. But the actual process of calorie counting is surprisingly inaccurate and totally flawed for a number of reasons.

Calorie counts on food labels and databases are only averages and the actual calories in food can vary, we all absorb and digest food differently depending on the make up of our gut and how we prepare our food can also affect the calories available for absorption.

Read more about why counting calories doesn’t work here

2            Moral licensing

It happens all the time, we think we’ve been ‘good’ in one area of our life, so we end up making decisions in another part of our life to ‘reward’ ourselves or ‘make up’ for it.  So, we exercise, and then we feel a little more hungry so we eat a little more, because well, we were ‘good’ doing all that exercise.

When we track what we’ve done and can see it, it can be easy to give ourselves a break and consequently we tip things back the other way and undo our good work because of the nature of the food available to us.

3            Exercise as punishment or play

We need long term behavioural change to make long term changes to our health. With fitness trackers, we often end up doing something we think we ‘have to’ do and forget about the enjoyment factor.

When we start to think about exercise as something we have to do, not something we want to do, adherence over the long term is hard, even if we have a fitness tracker to track and ‘motivate’ us with points and leaderboards.

When you find some sort of movement, activity or exercise you enjoy, you’ll have a much better chance of sticking to it, fitness tracker or not.

Read more about exercise and punishment and play here