Does the fitness tracker own you?

The Dominion Post, Saturday March 5th 2016, contained part of an article written by Steven Petrow (A17) for the Washington Post wrote an article entitled:  “Why I chose to ditch my Fitbit”.  The article began with the growing popularity of the the Fitbit and similar devices among his friends and his subsequent giving in and purchasing his own one at 20% off.

Petrow describes an initial period of conscientiously attempting to reach the standard 10,000 steps. Including the odd walking to get there before heading to bed and dragging his elderly dog along for company.  I must admit that I have walked on the spot attempting to raise my step count as well as using a mini tramp.  I will walk extra distances to clock up steps but I disagree with the indication that 10,000 should be the ultimate step goal.  You can in fact personalise any of the goal objectives, including the step one.

Petrow asserts that the relationship with a Fitbit is too “fragile” to sustain.  That using one means that the person can become more likely to treat exercise as a chore like any other job diminishing the enjoyment in exercising.  Petrow identifies the problem of the Fitbit not being able to be worn in the pool and how knowing that can cause the user to change their exercising regime to suit their device rather than themselves.  Serving the device becomes more important than the original rationales for exercise.

Petrow cites a Duke Study by Jordan Etkin, where she researched the impact of fitness trackers, including the Fitbit on their users after noticing that after she gave her father a Fitbit he had become obsessed with quantitative outcomes, as the expense of everything else, including pleasure.  I have had my Fitbit for just over a month and I use every feature of it except the food and drink diary because I do those on the my Weight Watchers App.   I use the resting pulse rate to monitor my hypertension and the sleep facility helps me work out my energy levels.

In the included link to the longer article, Petrow does bring up an interesting point.  If we are so reliant on a device for physical activity, duration, intensity, calories burned etc etc are we giving up our own innate ability to judge for ourselves how we feel, where to push and where to coast etc etc.  This could well be a valid point and one I will take note of.


Reference material:  Steven Petrov full article








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