The Dark Side of Fitness Tracking

Last year, in a fit of frustration, I sold my Apple Watch and shut down my Strava account. I just couldn't deal with the pressure of constant comparison with people who are better runners than I am. I thought I was crazy, so in a weird way I'm glad to find out I am apparently not alone in this.

It can be difficult to develop a healthy, effective relationship with the device that’s monitoring your calories, steps, and minutes of sleep. In one study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, overweight participants who wore fitness trackers each day lost less weight than those who didn’t. In another, people who wore them for a full year were no healthier than they’d been at the start of the study. On the other end of the spectrum, users can become too obsessed with the data their devices are collecting, leading them to self-diagnose problems that don’t exist; they can get so invested in their stats that it drains any enjoyment from previously pleasant activities; and, in some cases, fitness trackers can even exacerbate disordered eating behaviors.


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