Published on April 24, 2023

Know the Pros and Cons of Fitness Trackers for Mental Wellbeing

The post below is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Fitness trackers are everywhere. By some accounts, 21% of Americans wear a digital tracker. These devices work on the premise that once you get a better understanding of how much exercise or sleep you get, you can use that information to improve your health. But what if that handy little tracker becomes a source of added anxiety in your already jam-packed life? 

First, let’s look at some of the more positive effects of wearables. A fitness tracker can help you better understand where you are in your fitness journey, and it can help encourage you to continue making strides in your health. You can get important data like how many steps you took in a day, a week or month. 

How Fitness Trackers Can Help

Fitness trackers also offer a wide variety of potentially valuable data about your health, including tracking your heart rate and monitoring how many hours you sleep each night. A tracker may also provide data on sleep quality and the way you move through the REM cycle and other sleep stages. You can also use it to track water intake and other daily habits. 

There are also valuable tools to look out for on fitness watches like guided meditations and reminders to get up and walk or stand a few times per hour. So if you feel like you’re using your fitness tracker in a positive way that enhances your health, then it can be a powerful tool.Even if you’re using the data in your fitness tracker in a positive way, it’s important to be aware of the potential for it to become a source of negative feelings in your life.

Tips To Developing A Healthier Relationship With Your Tracker 

Here are a few tips for using digital fitness wearables in a healthier way. First, set reasonable fitness goals. Any fitness routine should build on where you’re already at. Setting an unrealistic goal may lead to a feeling of failure instead of encouraging steady progress you can build upon. 

Disable Default Settings on Your Smart Watch

Next, disable default settings that encourage you to walk a certain number of steps per day or other built-in standards you must attain – or feel a sense of failure. Getting 10,000 steps a day may be a good goal. But it might not be the right goal for you. In some studies, the 10,000 step daily milestone has been shown to be an arbitrary goal. For many people, fewer steps may actually be healthier. 

Be Honest With Yourself 

Finally, ask yourself if you’re disrupting your life in any way to maintain a streak or put up big numbers on your smart watch. If you’re changing the way you live to get a certain result on your fitness tracker, it could be something you want to seek support for to realign your relationship with your fitness tracker.  

Takeaway

Fitness trackers have the potential to help us understand the way our bodies work in a way unlike anything possible before. But with that potential to improve our health and wellbeing comes these potential red flags that we should all be aware of. 

Even if you’re following a healthy exercise and nutrition plan, it’s easy to still feel stuck or like you’re not reaching your true potential. There are times when you’re doing everything you can, and it’s beneficial to seek support. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. There are new ways to seek support for your mental wellbeing, and they don’t necessarily involve taking time to go to meet with a therapist at their office. 

For some, online therapy provides a welcome option in that allows them to receive treatment in the comfort of their own home. Online therapy can also provide an easy way to get started. Simply request an online therapist to work with you, and you can expect to matched in about 24-48 hours with a licensed therapist to begin a treatment plan.  


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