Fitness trackers aren’t making us healthier – Time

This week’s Time magazine has an article on why fitness trackers aren’t making us healthier. This is even as the U.S. market for wearables hits $7 billion this year.


Duh, what a shocker! The piece quotes Eric Finkelstein, a professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, who led the effort, “There’s confusion among people about a measurement tool and an intervention,” Finkelstein says. A scale counts pounds, for example, but won’t teach you how to eat less.

I have quoted the statistic in lots of posts that more than 60 percent of us are overweight and 30 percent outright obese. Time offers the following, “The U.S. has an exercise problem, with 28 percent of Americans ages 50 and over considered wholly inactive. That means 31 million adults move no more than is necessary to perform the most basic functions of daily life.”

Wow. No wonder we have a healthcare crisis. We are killing ourselves with overeating and underexercising, maybe under-moving would be more accurate.

I think this whole thing with the fitness trackers goes back to our hunger for a ‘quick fix.’ How can I drop those extra pounds in a week or two, and with minimum effort? You can’t, at least not in any healthy way.

I know that during the many years I struggled with a weight problem my mind reasoned similarly. I would work at losing the extra pounds so that I could hurry back and indulge in all my bad eating habits. Not surprisingly, my weight yo yo-ed all the time. It wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I came to understand that losing weight is a stop gap measure not a way of life. The idea is to live healthy. If you do that you don’t have to worry about extra pounds. The ones you had will have melted off and you won’t be putting on new ones.

I didn’t create this post to condemn fitness trackers. There is nothing wrong with them. I have an Apple Watch. Got it just after they came out. I love it. I can track my bike rides, stair climbing, dog walks,etc., and get a little report on how many calories I burned, how far I went, my heart rate, how long it took and more. But, the Watch is just a tool. I was doing these things before I got the Watch, I just didn’t have all the information it provides. So, I consider this fitness wearable  a positive addition to my way of life. You can read How my Apple Watch promotes my good health if interested.

I have never owned or used a Fitbit or any of those other trackers, but I would imagine that they could fit into your healthy lifestyle in the same way. Just remember, as Professor Finkelstein pointed out, these fitness trackers are measurement tools not an intervention. We still have to make the decision and carry out the actions on our own. Until we adjust our mindset, no amount of neat new gadgets are going to solve our health problems.



Filed under Exercise, fitness calculator, fitness myths, fitness trackers

7 responses to “Fitness trackers aren’t making us healthier – Time

  1. Couldn’t agree more. People believe these “toys” are going to create healthy end results. Improved lifestyle patterns create healthy outcomes; fitbits, apple watches, MyFitnessPal programs, etc… are tools that simply monitor HOW SUCCESSFUL YOUR LIFESTYLE CHANGES ARE! They do not achieve the results without the USER PUTTING IN THE EFFORT.

    Great post, Tony.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Truer words have never been written, Tony. Great post.


  3. I got my Apple Watch as a (very generous) Christmas gift and while I do love it, I was surprised how hard it was to hit my move goal of 450 calories. I’m 120 lbs and running a 5k that day or spending it roofing isn’t a guarantee. Have you heard the stat that about 10% of people say they meet movement guidelines each day but when you slap a fitness tracker on them less then 3% do? Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing that. Glad to hear that you also love your Apple watch. I hadn’t heard that statistic, but am not surprised considering that 66% of us are overweight and 33% outright obese. The watch is a great tool. I love the face with the three dials that show your daily progress on calories, exercise and standing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. MaleLifestyleBlogger

    Absolutely. Fitness trackers are only an aid and cannot substitute a healthy lifestyle.

    Liked by 1 person

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