Trash that tracker???
I have a secret to confess. But I don’t think I am alone.
I have a love affair with my Fitness tracker, Polar M400. It tells me my % of activity, calories burned during running/Pilates/yoga, steps taken, pace of a run, intensity… there is probably more, but those are the numbers I look at.
On a typical day, I am looking for a total of 300% and above for activity level, which turns out to be a little over 30,000 steps. On the days I am shy of 300% , I am either walking loops around the neighborhood or walking up and down the steps to achieve my goal.
It can be kind of insane if you think about it. To do upwards of 300% activity per day, every day, seven days a week for 365 days a year (pretty much) is obsessive to say the least. However, I am not the only person who is beholden to their little device!
Recently I was met a woman at a mirror and glass shop. She worked there and was walking around when I came in. She said hello and said she was walking around the store in circles trying to get to her 10,000 steps a day. I burst out laughing, holding up my wrist to show her my Polar watch.
“I totally get it!” I said to her and we both laughed about it.
As people have become more aware of the obesity epidemic, a newfound push towards healthy living and fitness has emerged. It started with Fitbit and now everyone seems to have an activity tracker on their wrist. It seems no one is immune to this obsession with reaching fitness goals.
While the upside is that it can really help people who are normally sedentary and less active to be more conscious about moving their bodies, the downside is that this can lead to an abnormal obsession. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, about 20 million women and 10 million men have a clinically significant eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, at some point in their live. Many more have unhealthy eating and exercise patterns that aren't diagnosed. Fitness trackers can be dangerous among this group because they add to the defining characteristics of eating disorders- perfectionism and the need for control.
“The truth is that these apps and devices are untested and unscientific, and they will open the door of uncertainty,” wrote Dr. Des Spence, a general practitioner in Glasgow, Scotland, who said fitness apps turn healthy people into “neurotics,” as quoted by the New York Times.
What Dr. Spence said is something I can totally relate to, along with so many other people who feel bound to their fitness trackers and reaching a certain goal. The idea that we are supposed to use this as a tool to promote activity has gotten lost in translation for some of us. So now that walk around the park is not something to enjoy, but another tedious task to check off our list.
In our ever-busy world of multi-tasking and achieving, the fitness tracker is now just another addition to everything else. As I was writing this article, my watch beeped. I looked down and it read, “It’s time to move.” Hmmm—maybe it’s time to take this thing off for a while and take a walk or go runningfor the sake of doing it– not just to reach a glorified number.