In theory, your activity tracker is the ultimate accountability buddy. But a recent Duke University study shows that Fitbits, Jawbones, Apple watches, and other nifty new devices might actually undermine your efforts—because all that data may be stressing you out.
The study found that the unintended consequences of “personal quantification” devices is that they can actually take the fun out of fitness, thereby adding pressure and making it less likely you’ll want to keep it up, long-term.
The participants in the study who were given updates on their progress—whether it was how far they walked, or how many shapes they colored—were more productive, but enjoyed the tasks less.
“Even though tracking output can encourage us to do more, it also sucks the fun out of activities we previously enjoyed, which makes us enjoy them less and be less likely to keep doing them in the future,” professor Jordan Etkin, who conducted the study, told USA Today,
In other words, it’s easy to make the shift from “Yay, time for bootcamp!” to “Ugh, have to make sure I get in my 10,000 steps today at bootcamp.” Like any technological godsend (smartphones anyone?), it’s all about how they’re used. Remember: We’re in charge, not the machines (I think). —Alison Feller
How about a data-free day (bathtub required) to think this over?
(Photo: Larkin Clark)