Are you obsessed with the number of steps that it takes to get to work? Do you take your dogs on as many extra walks as necessary to hit your goals? Do you walk up and down your stairs until your watch tells you that you’re done for the day?
Congrats to you! You’re one of the 23.2 million people who have chosen to make a health change for the better by actively using your Fitbit!
A recent study showed that people who use a fitness tracking device move more than those who don’t. Apparently, it works for three reasons: accountability, accuracy, and motivation. Researchers concluded that when you actually see your activities and you think that someone is watching, you’re motivated to do more.
You may think that techie devices are only good for monitoring your exercise, but there’s more! Read on to find out some of the unspoken things that your Fitbit can (and can’t) do.
1. It may be tracking more than your fitness activity.
Monitoring your exercise using a Fitbit is a fantastic way for you to keep on top of your own personal (and private) wellness goals.
Unfortunately, companies that you do business with want access to that information (and more) as well. Last year, a Swiss insurance company implemented a program called My Step to monitor the activity of all of their customers.
They reported that the program was so overwhelmingly successful, they were going to make it mandatory and would consider charging higher premiums for those who didn’t meet their health quotas or refused to participate in the program. Experts believe that this is going to be the wave of the future.
In these programs, people will be required to have all of their personal health data monitored and available in order to keep their insurance premiums low (or have any insurance at all).
2. You may hate working out more.
Collecting your personal data (like sleep patterns, diet, and exercise) in order to make positive changes is something called personal quantification.
The Fitbit is the ultimate gadget in personal quantification. It allows you to gather that information for you to monitor on an ongoing basis. However, studies show that the constant monitoring can be both good and bad for you.
Although the Fitbit may make you exercise more, studies have said that it may cause you to hate the activity as well. Researchers found that the more you track an activity, the more it feels like work.
The more it feels like work, the more you start to not like it. This is referred to as the “unintended consequence of personal quantification” and it may have an adverse effect on exercise participation in the long run.
3. It might be able to tell if you’re pregnant.
For most people, a positive pregnancy confirmation involves a trip to the drugstore or gyno, but not for one Fitbit user who happened to get some pretty startling (and happy) news!
David Trinidad thought his wife’s Fitbit was malfunctioning because he was getting a higher than normal heart rate reading when she asked him to analyze the data. You can imagine their surprise when they found out that her increased heart rate was due to the fact that she was pregnant!
One of the first signs of pregnancy is an increased heart rate, as the body tries to keep up with its’ higher need for blood—a woman’s heart rate can be boosted up to 10-15 beats per minute!
The folks at Fitbit were a bit surprised as well, as this was the first time they had ever had a case like this. They were delighted that, once again, their product revealed a vital aspect of a person’s health.
4. It may not be as private as you think.
You register your Fitbit and enter your weight, personal medical info, and other stuff you like to keep private, all the while assuming that everything is secure and confidential.
But sometimes the things that are promised to be kept private aren’t. Over the past five years, there have been several hacks into the Fitbit system, exposing customer information.
In 2011, much to the horror of those registered, a Google search turned up all user information. With one click you could find out the personal habits and info of everyone using the Fitbit.
The company rushed to clean up the mess, but it happened again in 2016. Some customer accounts were hacked by shady peeps looking to get their Fitbits replaced. They gained access to everyone’s private info like their schedules and sleep habits.
5. It may not be as accurate as you think.
Even though it may get you to move more, studies show that the information the Fitbit is giving you may not be as accurate as you think.
A study conducted by researchers at California State Polytechnic University found that when they tested the accuracy of heart rate readings, the results showed a 20 beat-per-minute discrepancy.
During the tests, they watched participants doing various types of exercise, at various levels. They realized during the course of the study that the heartbeat count became more inaccurate as the intensity of exercise increased.
These findings were backed up by two additional studies done by a news station in Indiana and also by The Berkeley Science Review. They both also observed that the steps counted and caloric expenditure were inaccurate, and that the inaccuracy became greater with increasing intensity exercise.
6. It could be used to save your life.
Techie monitoring devices store personal health information normally intended for personal use, but in one case the info was used by a medical professional to save a person’s life.
A man in New Jersey was admitted to a hospital for atrial fibrillation. The doctors had no information on him and they didn’t know if his issue was chronic or just a one-time thing brought on by a seizure.
This caused a problem because if they treated him via electrical shock (the preferred method), and his fibrillation was caused by a seizure, they could kill him. If they didn’t treat him at all, he could die. By looking at his Fitbit history and his historical heart rate, they determined exactly what happened and saved his life.
This incident made doctors and the medical community look at wellness tech gadgets in a totally new way—making them a vital part of total wellness.
7. You may actually gain weight.
Even though use of the Fitbit can help you move more, new studies show that the added exercise may not only be not enough to help you lose weight—and you actually may end up gaining it.
Researchers believe that this may occur for a couple of reasons. The first may be that, psychologically, you feel the need to reward yourself after completing the daily goal.
This reward most often comes in the form of food, and although the extra exercise burns more calories, most people consume the amount of calories they burned, plus more.
Another reason may be that although the daily Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps can lead to a more active life, it’s not entrirely based on scientific research and doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. The daily goal number was decided by a group of doctors who determined that the normal person takes 5,000 steps a day…and double that was do-able, and healthier.