After 21 months of using an activity tracker, I haven’t lost weight, built a consistent exercise habit, or slimmed down. In fact, it’s completely the opposite! I should be reconsidering activity trackers.
Reconsidering Activity Trackers
I had high hopes about leaping on the activity tracker bandwagon. My plan was to:
- Buy one with an alarm that would tell me to move after an hour of motionlessness.
- Use a step target to make me take a walk (and listen to a podcast while I did it).
- Wear less stretchy clothing to discourage myself from eating too much.
Early results were promising up until my device malfunctioned after nine months and was set back for replacement. Then the replacement malfunctioned and was upgraded. A situation that left me without a tracker for seven weeks which was enough time to lose momentum, and left me feeling that my “upgrade” was actually a downgrade.
Activity Tracker Tools
The main reason for using an activity tracker is because it wirelessly links with associated software and tracks your activity. It might not be 100% accurate, but it is reliably inaccurate – it is consistent with itself and gives you a reliable indication of how you are doing. The most common things tracked are:
- Steps: How many you take, and for some, how far you walk.
- Heart Rate Tracking: Allows you to put yourself into a fat-blasting exercise state. Plus you can see how quickly your heart rate drops after exercise, which can offer an insight into your general health.
- Sleep Tracking: Good quality sleep is the basis of a high-quality life, and you can track how long you sleep as well as your light or deep sleep.
At the moment, I am checking my sleep every morning, but not really paying attention to my steps. I like to achieve the goal the device gives me, but I’m not sufficiently motivated to change my routine to make that happen.
Activity Tracker Advantages
While just owning an activity tracker does not guarantee that you will achieve the health benefits you seek, it offers advantages over not having a tracker:
- Motivation: It’s the gold star effect. Ideally, you check your software and want to get better results (more gold stars). Or maybe you set new step or other goals.
- Accountability: You compete against yourself; try to get better results each day. Or partner up with someone and keep each other going.
- Behaviour Change: You are inspired to keep exercising, and start using your software to track your eating as well.
The tracker was a great motivator initially, but whether you can keep it going after the thrill wears off, or an injury or period of illness is another matter entirely.
Activity Tracker Disadvantages
When you come down to it, activity trackers rely on you – they don’t work unless you choose to use them.
- If you live a sedentary life (like me), working from home with little incidental movement, you might not schedule exercise periods or take bog laps around your living room to make up your step count.
- You might be disheartened when you don’t see the results you want as quickly as hoped and stop wearing the device. Or simply forget to put it back on after bathing or charging.
- You may be so involved in what you are doing that you don’t notice when your move alarm goes off. Three times (hours) since you sat down.
It all comes down to whether you are sufficiently attached to the outcome that you desire. And it appears that I am not, in spite of all the reasons I should be.
The Finish Line
My dear friend Katy asked
without change, how can things be different? If you are uncomfortable being comfortable, are you in fact comfortable?
Her point was that whenever you are doing something difficult (like losing weight) you don’t have to do it by yourself. You can, and should get help.
After reconsidering activity trackers, I think they can be beneficial, but I need more help to step away from the computer.
At my last permanent employer, I used software that forces you to take a break by locking your keyboard (plus some other bonuses). I have downloaded this and hopefully will slip back into the habit of doing a bathroom/kitchen/office lap on lockout.
Plus I got lazy and defaulted back to comfy stretchy clothes after a bout of illness, so it’s time to reconsider my working from home outfit as well.
Have you been reconsidering activity trackers? What was your conclusion? What help do you need, or would be willing to offer? Let us know in the comments below.