What happens when you take off your fitness tracker?

What happens when you take off your fitness tracker?

Self-tracking tools have become increasingly popular, especially fitness trackers. More and more people are counting their steps, monitoring their sleep cycles and keeping an eye on their caloric intake. But why are some ditching their devices? And what happens to their health when they do?

Researchers at the University of Washington sought to answer these questions by studying 141 individuals who had stopped using their Fitbit™, a wristband that monitors a variety of health and fitness aspects.

They determined there were a multitude of reasons users abandoned the devices, including being upset by the results revealed, not knowing what to do with the information provided and feeling as though they had gained an understanding of their habits and were finished with the tool.

Additionally, study authors wanted to understand how leaving the devices behind made people feel. The results are as follows:

  • Nearly 100 percent of users said they would like to return to self-tracking
  • 50 percent expressed guilt about no longer using their device
  • 32 percent expressed mixed feelings about quitting

When researchers offered new ways for people to get the same health and fitness data that the trackers provide, many participants liked social comparisons, i.e. “You walked farther than 40 percent of people today,” but not when presented in the opposite way (“40 percent of people walked more than you today.”) They concluded current self-tracking technology only offers a one-size-fits-all method and it isn’t working for everyone.

Whether you track it or not, exercise is an essential part of our everyday lives. Dr. Parimal Sura, internal medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., loves to exercise and recommends everyone gets moving.

“I know that people have trouble finding time to exercise, because when there is a list of things that ‘have to be done,’ it’s easy to put off exercise for another day. My patients are quite honest about how much they exercise, and many of them tell me that they don’t exercise at all,” Dr. Sura says.

“But for me personally, exercise is very high on my priority list. And I don’t think that formal exercise is necessary for health, as long as you are active and moving.”

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One Comment

  1. Angela Hacke

    I have worn a Fitbit for two years now. I was completely addicted at first–always checking my steps to make sure I did not go a day without hitting 10,000. In order to hit that mark, I started exercising before work, knowing I would be sitting at a desk all day. Now that I have a set routine of working out everyday, I am less reliant on my tracker. But I do still wear it. I guess I am afraid of what would happen if I took it off!

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.