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  • A Fine Balance Physio

Are Trackers Trickers?

If you haven't already used a fitness tracker in some sense, then you only need to check your phones fitness app settings to see that it's often already counting your steps for you.

The growth in the field of "wearable technology" has been enormous recently and there's a lot we can gain from it without needing to invest too much time or money. However, if you really want to, there are incredibly expensive and powerful gadgets out there.

Probably the two biggest uses of the wearables is around counting your steps and tracking your sleep. Hmmmm... exercise and sleep. Probably the two simplest things that can affect your health and mood. And of course a great area to market into as almost everyone struggles with one or both.

So whether you wear it on your wrist, insert it into your shoe, put a ring on at night, or just let the phone bounce around in your pocket you can get a lot of data about what you're doing, or not doing. Of course the biggest issue is that nothing can catch all your activity, and the data you get out will correlate to the attention you put in.

My wife once walked our daughter in a pram around the park for an hour and registered only 300 steps! Why? Because her tracker was on her wrist and her hand was on the pram handle, not moving. Needless to say she felt cheated, and put it in her pocket from then on when using the pram.

The same can be said for the watch or phone or sleep ring which will tell you you've had a great night's sleep, hours of solid sleep all because it sat on your bedside table nice and still all night.

The first thing with this tech to do is work out why you're using it and what you want to achieve. If it's just to get a read of how many steps you do, as long as you wear it for the same amount of time each day, you'll get a nice average over time. From there you can set goals like increasing my average steps per week by 10%.

If it's for sleep awareness, make sure you use it consistently and look at averages. While the data we get from these devices is really good, there will be variances day by day that can give false implications.

My take on wearable tech is anything that makes us more aware of what we are and aren't doing is a good thing. The more times you check on your progress and are reminded to be more conscious of your activity and your sleep, the better you will do it and feel as a result. If, as a result of using this data, you increase your activity, you're a winner. And from there, new habits can be formed.

So don't be afraid of wearable technology and trackers, just don't rely on them to be your sole motivation and coach. Have fun.


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