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Drawbacks of Personal Activity Trackers

Written by Courteney

Posted on May 11, 2016 at 1:10 am

In our last post, we analyzed the pros of using personal fitness trackers (PFTs) to motivate you to reach your fitness goals. We came across many great reasons to invest in a PFT, however, as with everything, there are some cons you should consider before shelling out the potentially big bucks for a PFT. Here are some of the drawbacks to PFTS:

  • Price: Many of the best PFTs with the most attractive features can run over $100 or even $200. Even then, you may find you dislike the app interface or find the device uncomfortable (for example the Basis is considered one of the best, but it is quite large and bulky). While a PFT may be cheaper than a personal trainer in the long run, it is still hard to spend so much on a device you may not even like. Do as much comparable research as you can, some of the devices under $100 have nice features and may be enough for what you need.
  • Inaccuracy: As we mentioned in our ‘pros” article, these devices may be high tech, but there is still much room for advancement. They can give you a general idea of how well you sleep or how many calories you’re burning, but the measurements are mostly approximated based on info you’ve inputted such as your weight, height and age. The sleep monitor relies mainly on how much you move while you’re sleeping, not by brain activity or other physiological assessments. So they can provide you with a ballpark for all these areas of your life, but don’t rely too heavily on the results. Particularly, don’t take the caloric feedback too seriously or start to tailor your dietary habits harshly based on the (likely skewed) numbers.
  • Appearance and comfort: Comfort and aesthetic preferences are entirely subjective and vary greatly from person to person, but many wearables are quite cumbersome and would take a bit of getting used to. If you don’t like the look of your device, you are less likely to wear it all the time. Similarly, if you don’t find it comfortable, you won’t be wearing it while sleeping or as much as you should during the day, so these features are actually very important ones to weigh when deciding whether to buy a PFT. Some stores offer a “try it before you buy it” option which is a good idea before slapping down $100-200.
  • Most features are matched by smart phones: Smartphones appear to better measure heartrate, and other information. Even down to the pedometer technology, evidence shows good smartphone apps may trump PFTs. This is surprising, considering PFTs were mainly invented to track your activity. That’s not to say they are inaccurate step counters, but your phone can do the job just that little bit better. Wearables would be better in situations such as while swimming, walking in the rain or when you don’t want to run with your phone, so it is up to you to assess whether you should download some tracking apps or go for the wearable.
  • So much fuss: Many people give up their wearables after only a short time as they are pretty high maintenance devices. They alert you frequently, must be checked regularly, you also must spend time dealing with the app, and many need to be charged regularly. However, nothing good comes easy so all this shouldn’t dissuade you from trying one, what if it is exactly what you need to keep you on task? We just wanted to look at both angles and provide some food for thought!

All in all it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before committing to buy, but nothing is perfect and with enough research, you may just find the best fitness friend you could hope for in a personal fitness tracker. So, despite the cons PFTs may be a worthwhile option to explore. Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you’ll return again soon.

 

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