I Won’t Use Fitness Trackers And Here’s Why

"For a mind that can easily obsess over goal-orientated details, it can turn your well-being into a winning or losing game"

woman running on stairs

Hands up if you’ve ever checked your steps count for the day, read you’re shy of the recommended 10k, and beat yourself up over it? I’m assuming you have your hand raised. In a modern world we’ve got modern things at our fingertips. Smartphones that can show us what’s happening right now in any corner of the world, TVs that can tell us the week’s weather forecast if we ask nicely, and strap-on devices that can give us more information about our health than our GP.

Fitness trackers of all forms have been steadily gaining popularity in the last number of years. Recent figures have shown that 1 in 5 Americans own a tracker of some sort, and as we know what’s successful across the pond usually follows suit here too. It’s likely that you, or at least someone you know has a fitness tracker, used with the intent to add healthier lifestyle habits to your routine. For a lot of people, improving their lifestyle is exactly what their wellness device does, but for others, it can do the total opposite.

I am not a smartwatch girlie. I see the appeal, and I’ve even been tempted by it, but deep down I know that a relationship with a device like that wouldn’t be good for me. Now that the dust has settled on fitness trackers, information has emerged which suggests that for some minds, they can do more harm than good.

woman performing yoga

A study carried out by Joybird.com found that of over 1,800 fitness tracker wearers 45% of them have experienced anxiety caused by stress from wearing their tracker. This stress comes from failing to meet your daily fitness targets. ‘Did you get you steps in today?’ is a phrase we hear so often. Keeping count of the number of steps you do in a day is a new cultural norm, and when that magic 10000 number doesn’t appear on your screen you feel defeated. Whether that 10k target is just a marketing accident or a real way to improve your health is still up for debate, but what isn’t is the fact that it can push people’s minds into unhealthy places. I like to move myself, eat well, and sleep lots, as much as the next person.

But for a mind that can easily obsess over goal-orientated details, turning your health and well-being into a winning or losing game can become more about performing well and less about actually living well. It’s like sitting life’s ultimate test, every single day. A wellness tracker sparks the ‘good girl syndrome’ in me, and I would rather simply enjoy my 8 hours of sleep at night rather than torment myself with getting a perfect sleep score.

red and purple coloring pencils on pink journal

It’s not just fitness trackers that can be problematic either. The ‘that girl’ trend currently taking over Instagram and TikTok has opened up an entirely new can of worms when it comes to unrealistic wellness routines. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘that girl’, let me introduce you to her. The viral trend focuses on manifesting wellness – and yes, it’s about as wishy-washy as it sounds. ‘That girl’ is someone who has made their bed, gone on a run, and drank 2 litres of lemon water before you have even pressed snooze on your alarm for the first time. She’s a living, breathing, Pinterest board and the most perfect, productive, and healthy versions of themselves. It sounds inspirational, and for many people it is, but for others, it spurs more insecurity than inspiration.

@kylaasummer reminder: this isn’t what every morning looks like but it’s what I try to accomplish #healthyroutine #thatgirl #healthylifestyle #morningroutine ♬ Yoncé – Atsuko Okatsuka

The romanticisation of wellness can be tactless and in that girl’s case, it blurs the lines between what’s fake and what’s not. The Kardashians promoting appetite-suppressing lollipops is glaringly toxic, but a girl making avocado toast after her morning pilates is less obviously bad. That girl disguises self-improvement propaganda as wholesome living. What we see is a life that seems effortless and attainable, but what it really is, is a carefully crafted highlight reel of one person’s best day.

Aspiring to live like that girl leaves little room for real life, just like fitness trackers can too. Sure, I can be on it one morning downing my chia pudding and getting my steps in before 9am, but other days I want to lie on the sofa and eat crisps for lunch. The issue is, my smartwatch doesn’t accommodate for my down days.

At times the things that exist to serve as motivators can end up doing the exact opposite of that. If you’re predisposed to beat yourself up in any way, following people’s aesthetically perfect lives or strapping a fitness monitor to your wrist could be triggering for you and so, it’s okay to sit this one out. Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is not punish yourself for being human.

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