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The Pros and Cons of Fitness Trackers

January 18, 2017

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One of the latest fitness crazes is wearable technology. These highly advanced and often fashionable activity trackers are now being spotted everywhere from the gym to the board room. And, really, what’s not to like? Keeping track of every step you take and every calorie you burn might sound like a great way to enhance your health and well-being. But, do these popular devices really live up to all of the hype? After reviewing a few of their pros and cons, you can decide for yourself whether a fitness tracker is a good option for you over the long run.

The Pros

A recent study showed that the majority of participants claimed to wear their fitness trackers constantly (with the exception of the time required for battery recharging). Most reported that they found their devices to be useful for monitoring not only their physical activity, but also the portion sizes of the food they consume, allowing them to be more active and eat healthier at all times. Almost all described feelings of achievement and satisfaction when they met their daily goals, which seems to suggest that fitness trackers can provide positive reinforcement by helping those who wear them feel rewarded for practicing healthy lifestyle habits.

The Cons

Unfortunately, there is also a downside to wearing a fitness tracker. Some study participants suggested that the positive aspects came at a cost. For instance, many reported that if they forgot to wear the device, they were less inclined to work out, mainly because they wouldn’t receive any “credit” for their efforts. Even worse, some described feeling controlled or pressured by the device, or guilty if they didn’t achieve their goals. And, taking motivation to a new extreme, some revealed that they developed an obsession with their statistics to the point that they became oblivious to their surroundings (which can be dangerous, especially outdoors).

In sum, there’s no question that a fitness tracker can provide valuable motivation if you need a push or are working toward a specific goal. But, dependency on these devices can backfire. If you want to use wearable technology, the best approach is to maintain control over it – don’t let it control you. Remember, physical activity and good nutrition are very worthwhile and beneficial for your health and well-being – and will continue to be so regardless of whether you obsessively track your every move and every bite.

With that said, a fitness tracker can have special value for a person who is facing cancer or its aftermath. During a cancer journey, a reduction in physical activity can occur for a number of reasons, including pain, general fatigue and medication side effects. By helping a patient become more active, a fitness tracker can potentially enhance the recovery process, promote functional independence and lead to a better quality of life.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer a wide range of supportive services to help our patients increase fitness, rebuild strength, regain independence, reduce stress and maintain the energy they need to participate in the activities that are important to them. If you’d like to learn more, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.