OPINION: Will fitness tracking and life hacking lead to a better you?
Our sister site Connected Health covers the most weird, wonderful and useful news in the world of health and fitness tech everyday, whether there’s an app that tracks your blood pressure or a device that charges your phone as you run. However, I ask over on Connected Health today whether we’re all getting a bit carried away when it comes to tracking every step we take and calorie we eat, when really a simple and personalised approach might be better in the long run…
Although we first launched Connected Health late last year and saw plenty of exhibitions about the body at CES, only recently have we seen mainstream blogs and publications here in the UK really start waking up to the huge potential that tracking your daily activities, food intake and workouts with the help of gadgets, apps and accessories can really have on your long term health and fitness.
As our understanding of health, fitness and wellbeing progresses, so to does our ability to use this knowledge and translate it into the world of tech, whether that be an app that keeps tabs on your blood pressure with the help of a dedicated device or a gadget that monitors how many steps you take throughout the day. In fact the plethora of devices, mobile apps and online services solely dedicated to health and fitness has led many to suggest we’re entering a “new era” in fitness tracking technology (we say that on our about page actually) and as melodramatic as it may seem there has been a kind of “revolution” in the way we can now hack and improve our lives.
Of course there’s no doubt that the fascinating gadgets we’ve seen over the last few months, easy-to-use mobile apps and potentially life saving accessories present huge, HUGE potential in health, fitness and medical professions. However, we also think that wannabe life hackers and fitness trackers need to be cautious about the tech they’re buying into and their expectations about the impact it’ll have on their lives in the future.
The main thing that concerns us is that many of the apps and gadgets currently being marketed as comprehensive tools for health and fitness tracking require you to use them and update them throughout the day. Of course this makes complete sense. So many people snack without knowing it, or don’t walk as much as they think they do everyday, so giving them an app or gadget to keep tabs on their activity could be a real eye-opener.
However, when a gadget, app or accessory comes with the rule to use it, wear it or update it all of the time, it also comes with a huge amount of pressure on the user. Although fitness fanatics may love the idea of tracking their virtuous runs, for many it could well prove to be too overwhelming.
It’s the same reason faddy diets don’t work, too much of a change and you’ll lose interest, feel the pressure and fall back into your old ways. In the past this maybe meant buying a treadmill and a book about some crazy juice diet, but now you’ll spend a fortune on the latest tracking device then realise you’ve wasted £100 and you’re even less inclined to get out and get moving.
When it comes to any kind of life hacking, whether you want to improve your fitness or just be more productive at work, the truth is you don’t need to become obsessed with every tiny detail or you’ll find you’re spending so long “hacking” your life that you’re barely living it anymore.
We’re not telling you to ditch that gadget or un-install that app at all, we’re huge advocates of the “new era” of health and fitness tech, but what we think will have more of a lasting impact is picking the right products, gadgets and apps for YOU. And, we hate to say it but chances are they’re not the ones everyone’s shouting from the roof tops about.
Sure athletes and those into fitness can strap 4,584,030 devices to their body everyday, show off about their achievements and share every aspect of their nutritious diets with their social networks and that might work really well for them. But not everyone has to, wants to or has the ability to fit that mould.
The link between your health and fitness and the technology you use to track, monitor and improve it is a truly fascinating area and all kinds of companies from flashy international brands to governmental organisations are producing new products and ways of helping you achieve your goals.
However, we mustn’t forget that it takes motivation, it takes dedication and it takes a personal approach to really make a difference, the only thing that the wealth of fitness apps and gadgets can do is help you on your own journey.
For a more general look at why life hacking isn’t always the answer, check out John Pavlus’ post: Confessions of a recovering lifehacker[Via Connected Health Image via Lululemon Athletica’s Flickr]