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Should you be using fitness trackers?

Most of you may think, well yeah obviously, why shouldn't you use these if you care about your health.


My Fitness Pal.

True Coach.



Apple Watch.

All of these are ways you can track your fitness and health.

In theory, this sounds like something everyone should do.

Especially if you are trying to change your life and improve aspects of your health and wellbeing.

In most cases, when I decide to sit down to write something, I’ll do some reading up on the subject.

Just to give me a refresher and some new things to write about for a given topic.

When I got the idea this morning to write about fitness trackers, I did just that.

However, the article I pulled up took me in an unexpected direction.

I want to share with you a new perspective on these popular fitness trackers.

I think this could be a new light for some of you that may feel stuck in your fitness.

It may even help you shift your perspective, to help you better achieve results.

These fitness, nutrition, and training trackers can be a big help to keep you accountable.

But can accountability have unintended consequences?

You may have heard that your mindset is more powerful than you think.

I believe that 100%

Your perspective around fitness, nutrition and health can be greatly shaped by the power of your mind.

There is something called the Activity Adequacy Mindset.

Which basically refers to how physical activity and healthy you perceive yourself to be.

There is a study that was done earlier this year where they had adults track their steps using an apple watch. There were some other measures but this was the main one.

One group had their steps tracked with 100% accuracy.

While the other group had their steps tracked inaccurately either 40% above or 40% below the actual steps. Meaning they were recorded as being higher or lower than the actual amount.

The main take away rom the paper was that the group that had their steps recorded lower ended up having worse outcomes than the other two groups (the accurate, and higher recorded score).

Let me say that in a different way.

Those that thought they were doing worse, eventually DID WORSE when trying to change their physical activity behavior.

Here is a line directly from the paper I read.

"Experimentally deflating the step counts by 40% led participants to adopt a more inadequate activity mindset compared with those receiving accurate feedback, and those who received deflated steps also experienced declines in the following, healthy eating patterns, declines in mental health and self esteem, and had increases in heart rate and blood pressure"

This contradicts some of the main reasons why people get fitness trackers.

I mean, you may have said the following yourself.

“I need to get back in shape, let me get an Apple Watch to track my step count and calories burned”

But, after reading this paper, that may be setting you up to fail before you even start.

In short, the authors described that because people might do worse on these fitness trackers is because they could feel discouraged about not meeting the physical activity standards.

Now, over the years have realized that these standards like hitting 10,000 steps a day, or eating only 2,000 calories, or working out every single day are not really standards, but just arbitrary targets.

If you are someone that can’t seem to hit something like 10,000 steps a day, you may believe that you can’t do it at all and be less inclined to try.

This is not to say that if you use these this will happen to you.

There are some of you reading this that use these trackers as motivators, to help gauge your training, and because you might just be curious about what your physical activity levels are.

Which is great, and please keep doing what is working for you, your health, and your goals.

In fact, in the study those that receiving accurate step counts and mindset coaching as well, led to improved mindsets surrounding physical activity and were more engaged in health promoting behaviors.

My point here is to say that you don’t have to purchase one of these things if you are looking to improve your health.

This calls for personalization beyond just individualized training plans.

If you feel that you have been struggling with your fitness and physical activity goals, then maybe it’s worth it to set the watch down for a week.

Accountability is great, but when you constantly feel like you have someone or something watching over you, it can certainly feel overwhelming.

If you are fed up with this overwhelming feeling of trying to get back on your fitness routine, click the link below and fill out the strategy call form.

Based on what you say in this form, I can provide you with some tips you can apply immediately to help your fitness and physical activity.

Zahrt, O. H., Evans, K., Murnane, E., Santoro, E., Baiocchi, M., Landay, J., Delp, S., & Crum, A. (2023). Effects of wearable fitness trackers and activity adequacy mindsets on affect, behavior, and Health: Longitudinal Randomized Controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 25.

All the best,

Tim Stiroh

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