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Tech ‘Health’ Products Actually Stress You Out

The title may go against everything you think I stand for. I don believe some tech health products have negative effects

I love tech, software, and gadgets, from the latest soundbar to new productivity app, organizing my day.

As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Because a product can do something and give a user everything under the sun. It doesn’t mean that they should, or we as consumers should think that they will help us day-to-day.

Fitbit’s Don’t Make You Healthy

I’ve got a bugbear with one tech product, in particular, Fitbit.

They seem to have cornered the market with their “smartwatches”, is it having a negative effect?

Their watches allow you to track all sorts of metrics (depending on which version you buy). Many people use it to track their sleep, to see if their resting enough. Others use a Fitbit to count the number of steps. You can even track when types of exercise you are doing, from walking, up to circuit training and running.

All this with the intention of helping you become fitter and healthier.

I beg to differ, owning a Fitbit actually increases your stress levels.

I’ve seen this happen to people close to me, as well as people I’ve worked alongside. Even gone through the stress of it myself, when my wife gave me one of her old Fitbit. I would get wound up if I didn’t track things like sleep or when I went for a run.

It didn’t last long, I got rid of it in a few short weeks

From Laid Back To Stressed Out

The biggest change I saw in someone, was with a guy I used to work with.

He had been through a rough time of it and was a single dad of three kids.

At the time he was having a lot of trouble with his sleep and was struggling with his diet and being active. That said, he was a happy-go-lucky guy. Some mornings he would be “dog tired” when he came into work, but he would still be laughing and joking with people.

Wanting to make a change to his lifestyle, he reached out to the company we worked for.

They had a well-being service, where an “expert” would spend an hour or two with you to help you make lifestyle changes.

I’m not saying the service was rubbish, they helped him sort out his diet. Helping him plan his meals out and get better at cooking to help with his nutrition. The worst thing they recommended was to get a Fitbit.

He was already suffering from insomnia, the last thing he needed was to start tracking his sleep.

The change in him was almost instant. Within a week he went from a laid-back sort of guy to completely stressed out.

Before, if he had had little or no sleep, he will still be his cheery self, a couple of coffees and he would be fine. Now, with his Fitbit saying he had no sleep and the quality of his sleep was terrible, he was now the polar opposite. He would come into work, shattered and completely stressed out, almost ‘fried’.

10,000 Steps A Day Isn’t a Thing

Fitbit has also been a pioneer in “getting your steps in, 10,000 a day, this isn’t steeped in research.

The 10,000 steps a day is from a marketing campaign from a Japanese company trying to promote their step tracker before the 1964 Olympics.

In fact, studies have shown that people get the same, if not more benefits from doing 7,000 steps a day, not 10,000. Again, people focus on the fact that they haven’t done enough steps that day. I know people who have hiked for 15 miles one day, that still get stressed if they don’t hit the 10,000 steps the day after.

It’s complete madness if you ask me.

As long as you are doing some form of exercise 5 days a week, getting your heart rate up, and pushing yourself, you’re doing great.

Recording Becomes More Important Than Doing

I’ve lost count of the number of hikes, walks, and runs where someone has said “Fuck I’ve not tracked it on Fitbit”.

Products like Fitbit rely on “gamification” to get you hooked on their service.

Again, it makes people focus on the wrong thing. “I forgot to track my run, I can’t see my split times, average heart rate, and calorie count”. I’m sorry to say none of that matters, you got out there, went for a run, and pushed yourself, that’s what matters.

I listened to a podcast this morning, with two fitness experts who said they don’t track their body fat.

This stuck with me, people with far more knowledge on the topic seem to agree with me.

They dug a little deeper and said the act of doing and building up consistency is far more important. You will get to a point where your food intake will become self-regulating. They ended by saying as long as you’re happy with what you see in the mirror and in good health, you’re winning.

Consistency Is Key Not Tech Health Products

What am I getting at?

Like most pursuits in life, consistency is the key, often the most important factor.

If you’re getting “enough sleep” that you don’t feel shattered (I can have 6 hours a night and feel full of beans). If you’re sticking to you’re workout plan and working towards your goals. Then you are doing things right, improving, and getting better each day.

You don’t need a little device, or software on your phone to tell you how you’re performing.

If you can look back over your week and say I’ve stuck to the plan, eat well 90% of the time, and feel rested. Then you’re well ahead of the game.

Time to ditch those tech health products

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Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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