The new rage with apps and wearable technology such as MyFitnessPal, FitBit, Pacer and even Period Tracker Lite is changing the way people see their health. These apps give consumers the ability to track their weight, food and calorie intake, workouts, heart rate, blood pressure etc. at any given moment. Sounds great, right? The question becomes: are they of any real benefit to people who are already healthy? If healthy people are already eating well and exercising then why do they need a fitness app?
Personally, I wear Jawbone and use the app UP to synchronize my sleep patterns, diet, daily step count, workouts and weight. Jawbone, like FitBit, uses motion sensors to track physical activity. Studies have proven their accuracy, however there is no evidence supporting these devices as a means of improving health outcomes, nor harming consumers. Remember, out generation is health obsessed and constantly worrying about anything and everything. Who says these apps won’t just add fuel to the fire?
Research shows that the majority of health and fitness apps are harmless (and useless), but are definitely not few and far between. The main problem I see with these apps lies when people start self-medicating. Self-diagnosis and self-medication are huge nowadays with a plethora of websites claiming to diagnose any ailment you may have. Medicine is a complex and diverse field that cannot be learned through a few, quick Google searches. Therefore, any claims these health apps provide must be heavily backed up by strong scientific literature.
Finally, although these apps may lead people to overanalyze, over-diagnose and develop anxiety, if someone wants to wear a harmless activity tracker, then let them! Society may be too worried about living a healthy life that we forget to actually live one.