Should You Try a Fitness Tracker? Pros & Cons

By Nicholas Gregory, MA

Over the past ten years, technology has rapidly advanced, making many aspects of life easier and more informed. One area that has recently faced a growing technology presence is within the health and fitness space. From wearable watches or rings, to app based programs, fitness trackers allow users to track every aspect of movement throughout the day with the hopes to develop motivation and awareness around health and fitness goals. Although well-intentioned, what are these fitness trackers truly accomplishing? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these devices to see how they can best support you! 

Fitness Tracker Pros

Visible progress

The aim of fitness trackers is to provide visible data to users. When approached in a balanced way, this can give users tangible numbers to help develop awareness around habits and behaviors. Awareness and knowledge around variables like steps per day, hours of sleep, calories burned, and weight graphs can all be extremely valuable in a weight loss journey. These measurements provide visible data 

Community

Another area where fitness trackers can be truly beneficial is in the ability to develop community. These trackers allow you to connect to others utilizing the same fitness tracker. From step counters to meal logging, these platforms bring together individuals looking to reach similar goals and give them a space to motivate and support each other. 

Fitness Tracker Cons

Fixated on data

As mentioned earlier, fitness trackers can provide data to help develop great awareness around multiple aspects of a health and fitness journey.  Problems can arise when this data becomes the main focus and measure of success for those tracking. Obsession over specific data can lead to stress and burnout as you work to constantly close that ring or hit that step goal. As the main focus of these trackers, this data does not help strengthen confidence or take into account the natural ebbs and flows of progress, behavior, and activity. Didn’t hit 10,000 steps today? That is OK! Tomorrow is a new day and you should not feel bad for not hitting your goal today

Lacking behavior change

At Noom we have proven that behavioral change is not about fancy gadgets — it’s about education, self-awareness, practice, and hard work to overcome psychological barriers and develop healthy habits. It requires individuals to be active participants in their journey, and not relying on a widget to do the work. Many wearable trackers miss out on the behavioral change component of weight loss. Forcing a specific goal for steps, sleep, or calories burned without taking into account readiness to change, sustainability, and how it relates to long-term goals, sets you up for frustration and stress! The WHY behind the goal is just as important if not more important than the HOW!

The big picture

At Noom, we believe logging is a beneficial part of any health and wellness journey. Logging specific behaviors can give you powerful awareness and help you develop mindfulness around your behaviors. Fitness trackers may provide more awareness around a specific measure or data point, but without the context of how this fits into the bigger picture, this awareness can be short lived. A comprehensive approach, focused on creating sustainable habits around nutrition and physical activity is the only way to maintain long-term weight loss. Do fitness trackers fit into this approach? Absolutely, but oftentimes trackers are presented as the complete system for weight loss, which research has shown is not enough. Interested in combining the best of fitness trackers, personalized coaching, and behavior change? Try your 14 day risk free trial today!

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