The Flipside: Dangers of Fitness Wearables
We’re pretty familiar with the benefits of wearable fitness technology: convenience, more in-depth measuring and analyzing, quick results, etc. But for every good thing, there’s a downside. What are some of the dangers of fitness technology devices?
A research study conducted with 200 women who wore a Fitbit activity tracker showed some interesting results. Most users began seeing their tracker as an extension of themselves rather than external technology. 89% of the participants reported that they wore the tracker almost continuously, removing it only to recharge its battery.
The users reported the usual benefits of wearing the tracker:
- Consciously taking longer routes in order to increase their step counts (91%)
- Increasing weekly exercise (95%)
- Increasing walking speed in order to reach their Fitbit targets faster (56%)
- Changing eating habits – healthier food choices, smaller portion sizes, fewer takeaways (76%)
The researchers also studied the emotional/mental effects of tracker usage finding:
- Many users saw their tracker as a friend, motivating them to reach their goals (68%).
- Users reaching their goals felt happier (99%), satisfied (100%), pride (98%), and motivation (98%).
- Reaching their goals caused the users to like their tracker more (96%).
The study also showed some darker aspects of wearing the tracker:
- Users not wearing the tracker reported feeling “naked” (45%)
- Users reported feeling their completed activities were wasted (43%)
- Some users reported feeling LESS motivated to exercise (22%)
This study showed the users felt pressure to achieve their daily goals (79%), and that the users felt their lives were controlled by the tracker (59%). Users also reported viewing their tracker as being “the enemy” that made them feel guilty for not reaching their goals (30%).
The more metrics measured and the more data analyzed, the higher the security risk. There is always the risk of a third party getting their hands on your personal data. Some trackers provide geolocation data minute to minute. This data is stored in the cloud. It also gives such information such as the location of the user. Cloud apps can be used to launch a cyber attack.
Addicted to Wearables
A lot of wearable users have gone beyond counting steps and measuring activity. Now they are measuring, in addition to counting steps and measuring activity, their sleep levels, heart rate monitoring, etc. The in-depth analysis, as well as the ease and convenience of a tracker, can lead to addiction. Users report feeling uncomfortable without the tracker after a while of wearing it. Some users report actually going back home to retrieve a forgotten tracker. Dependence on this information and on the speed of measuring leads to addiction to the tracker.
Fitbits emit EMF radiation. This comes from using a Bluetooth connection on your phone. The type of radiation is non-ionizing radiation. This type of non-ionizing radiation usually does not emit the EMF radiation in the same amounts as, for example, your phone. The constant Bluetooth connection still emits a good amount. And although the amount of radiation emitted falls below government regulation, current research shows these levels are not safe for the body to absorb. This is a topic of debate, with some scientists saying these levels are not dangerous and a growing number of scientists saying this radiation is definitely harmful.
Some of the issues caused by radiations are:
- Sleep disorders
- Foggy brain
- Skin irritation
- Heart disease
There are many benefits to wearables. But for all their convenience, data collected, and information analyzed there are some definite downsides to trackers, especially when they’re worn for long periods of time. Research both the pros and the cons before investing your money and determine if the benefits are worth the dangers.
Image Credit: cnbc.com