Wearable fitness trackers, a sound investment?

The wearable fitness tracking industry has exploded in recent years, with valuations of the entire global market being as high as ~$18 million USD (Allied market research, 2018), with expected growth to over $60 million USD by 2023 (Allied Market Research, 2018).  This is clearly demonstrating that there is an interest in wearable fitness technology, but it begs the question, do we really need them?  Well, in short, yes and no.  We don’t need them in order to be fit, and healthy.  They don’t improve our physical performance in any way, shape, or form, they simply give us measurable data of our daily physical activity.  This is where they show their importance, though.  The fact that a person can glance down at their wrist, and see how much (or, how little) activity that they’ve done is a huge motivating factor.

Fitness trackers help to quantify both exercise-related physical activity as well as non-exercise related physical activity.  For example, you might never step foot in the gym, but realize you’re still physically active because of your walk to work, and your day to day activities.  Without a wearable fitness tracker, we might not realize how much our daily routine consists of exercise.  On the other hand, you might realize that a lazy Sunday afternoon was more sedentary than you anticipated.  This might lead to a change in your routine, all while giving you measurable data that you can see.  I know I’d feel a sense of accomplishment if the step counter on my fitness device increased from 4000 to 10,000 just because I decided to spend a bit more time on my feet, or decided to walk a bit more throughout my day.  Since it’s a daily achievement, it doesn’t force us to all of a sudden insert 2-3 hours of exercise, it allows us to spread it over the entire day.

I also want to speak a bit about having a device that is interconnected.  On some devices, there is potential to interact with others who have the same “family” of devices.  Personally speaking, this is a huge motivating factor.  Knowing what other people in my life are doing in terms of physical activity allows for some friendly competition, without having to coordinate exercise times.

Lastly, I think it should be noted that fitness tracking is still in it’s stages of infancy.  Even in the last year, we’ve seen advancements in waterproofing and durability.  Eventually, we will probably have a plethora of options that are able to track each and everyone of our fitness activities in real time.

So, in conclusion, fitness trackers seem to be a burgeoning market that is slowly evolving the way we motivate ourselves for our day-to-day activity. This extra push is something that we could all benefit from, and the remote access to share exercise data with others can be positive as well.  There is a definite benefit if you’re willing to invest the money!