Can a fitness tracker nudge you into pursuing healthier activities?
Sitting is the new smoking. People who sit themselves down at a desk for hours on end appear to be putting themselves in a risk category similar to a colleague who leaves their workspace 4 times a day to light up.
Gentle Nudges Can Be Useful
Early on, trackers were a fairly “passive” device with very limited abilities to nudge us out of our chair. Now my Fenix 3 will not only track my runs and other outdoor adventures… but it will gently buzz when it is time to simply get up and move. Even the Jawbone and Fitbit trackers have evolved to nudge us to move about. And with research clearly showing that these short simple strolls can add years to my life, I am willing to oblige. This concept of activity modification is the holy grail of the tracker industry … certainly many of you will not care if your wrist is vibrating … but that’s ok, I’ll walk enough for both of us.
As a busy and observant Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Doc there is little doubt that I have noted a huge surge in tracker use. I have spoken to virtually everyone in my office with a tracker on their wrist, and I have been very impressed by the fact that many admit that their tracker will cause them to modify their lifestyle to hit certain achievable goals. Of course, that’s not true for all — but that’s ok too, no single technology is right for everyone.
Fitness Trackers Enable a Sharing / Bragging / Caring Community
There is no getting around the fact that we live in an always on and hyper-connected digital world. Many are enslaved by it. We document everything and take billions of pictures each and every day. Many of us will post our running or biking stats to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook … and I’ve even heard some on the trails become very upset when their tracker malfunctioned and they were not able to post their run. It was almost as if the run didn’t take place if it wasn’t posted in the digital space for everyone to see. In addition to that, it is very clear that many of my virtual friends have been nudged to run after one of my posts, and vice versa. That is powerful.
Can a fitness tracker truly change your life?
The Fitness Tracker market is evolving at a very rapid pace. Gone are the days when your colorful companion counted your steps, and you then set the tracker aside until the following day. There are very few activities that are not trackable at this time. The research is becoming clear. The more we move, the longer we live. The more we know about our weight, body fat %, heart rate, and blood pressure, the better we will be able to help our doctors help us. Any physician will tell you, we have seen many patients able to stop their blood pressure medications *, diabetes medications*, and more because they put a little effort into their health can activities … so YES, if the tracker gets you moving- it can truly change your life.
We can now track our:
- weight and body fat %
- blood pressure
- mileage or effort from every sport imaginable
- heart rate
- Even our new babies activity and breathing
- and even our posture
- and Sleep
Actionable Insights and Fitness Trackers
This is where trackers have the ability to change the lifestyle, health and potentially the life expectancy of those who needed that little extra nudge. By receiving actionable guidance from your tracker of choice, you can make the decision to ignore or act — and I have witnessed hundreds of people take that little nudge and turn it into action.
This FitBit can track your heart rate and many other key metrics. It is the most popular heart rate activity tracker.
Granted, many of you are shaking your head, or haven’t even read this far. That’s all well and good. No single technology will be able to incentivize the population as a whole to get up and move. But those of us in the medical community will keep you informed of the technologies that are available if and when that light bulb moment occurs and you are ready to take active steps to living a healthier and hopefully a longer life.
** – Do not stop taking your medications unless your doctors says to do so **
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