In this post, we will share the pros and cons of activity tracking, primarily a Fitbit device that reports the number of “steps” taken in a day (among other things).

The Pros of Activity Tracking

  1. Without question, it can change behavior and make you more active. The number of steps on the Fitbit is an indisputable measurement of just how active you are – and as a result, you can quickly change your behavior accordingly when you are falling short.
  • According to Fitbit’s Amy McDonough, users experience a 43% increase in activity just by putting a Fitbit on. As she noted at the Consumer Electronics Show conference in January, “It’s about making it visible.”
  1. A single actionable goal. Shoot for 10,000 steps every day – it’s one number, and you either hit it or you don’t. When it’s 8 pm and you see that you are at 8,500 steps, more often than not, you’ll go for a quick walk or pace around the house to get over 10,000 steps.
  2. Activity trackers give immediate feedback – You know in the moment exactly how you’re doing.
  3. The feedback feels non-judgmental, and often, very motivating.While blood sugar numbers can often feel like a judgment – “265 mg/dl? What did you eat?!” – activity data feels very objective. “Okay – I’ve walked 2,500 steps today.” Instead of feeling guilty or bad about myself, usually you just feel motivated to be more active. Activity trackers also do a great job of giving encouragement with badges and achievements for reaching certain milestones (e.g., one million steps walked), as well as progress reports. Overall, the whole experience is much more positive, much more progress-oriented, and thus much more engaging.
  4. Friendly encouragement from friends. You can “follow” your friends, give them encouragement, and challenge each other. Even the language used (e.g., “Cheer” [Fitbit], “Kudos” [Strava]) speaks to the positive atmosphere that these apps seek to foster. According to Fitbit’s McDonough, for each extra friend someone has on the Fitbit system, his or her activity increases by 750 steps per day.

The Cons of Activity Tracking

  1. Not every personality responds to activity tracking.There are some people become obsessed with their step count, but there are also seen many lose interest over time, or never get into it in the first place. If you like setting and achieving goals, activity tracking may be a good fit. If you feel like you’re already active enough, or don’t want to think about more health-related things, or find data like this slightly overwhelming, it may not be for you.
  2. Activity tracker devices cost money. Usually, they’re around $100 (depending on the model), but they can run anywhere from $15 to over $200
  3. You can lose a device, run it through the washing machine, break it, etc.Many activity trackers are now wristbands, which make them much harder to lose. Some are waterproof, though most won’t survive a run through the wash.
  4. It’s another thing to wear/carry/think about.Some people forget they are wearing one, but people with diabetes carry a lot of stuff. You may not want to deal with something else.


Excerpt from Adam Brown

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay