Your Fitness Tracker Might Be Ruining Your Workout

You probably know at least one person who uses a fitness tracker. You might even use one yourself! The fitness watch craze is allowing more people than ever before to see their health stats on a daily basis. Whether you're using your fitness tracker to see the typical amount of steps you're taking during the day or a way to see your heart rate when resting or working out, a lot of people use their fitness tracker to motivate themselves and get in that extra 1k steps. 


There are endless comparisons about whether an Apple Watch or Fitbit is the better fitness tracker, but there are some benefits of trackers that are standard across the fitness market. These benefits include improving the amount of sleep you get, having the potential to increase your activity level, and letting you know how many calories you're burning. However, just like with all trackers, a fitness watch isn't for everyone. In fact, using a fitness tracker can actually have some negative implications in certain circumstances.

They may be good for keeping you on track with your workout, but becoming too fixated on the data they provide could end up doing more harm than good.

There is an increase in people seeking validation from what their fitness watch tells them

There's a very real possibility that using a fitness tracker regularly could have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. Eoin Whelan, a senior lecturer at the National University of Ireland Galway, told CNN that people who used to love playing sports or doing certain exercises are now more fixated on the numbers reported to them by their fitness trackers and posting those numbers online to show off to other people.


Though an element of competition can sometimes be good in helping you achieve your set goals, there's evidence that those using fitness trackers can become obsessed to an unhealthy degree with the figures. Speaking to The Washington Post, psychotherapist and performance coach Daryl Appleton warned that "constantly checking your app or steps and measuring your worth by it" could lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, if you're not careful.

Instead of feeling happy with yourself when you accomplish a new record, obsessively looking at your watch to track the numbers could effectively ruin both your workout stride and your enjoyment of it.

It could be best to take a break and free yourself from your watch stats

Interestingly, a study published in the Cardiovascular Digital Health Journal found that patients who already struggled with health anxiety suffered more when actively wearing a fitness smartwatch. This is because the watch gave them access to information about body functions like spikes in their heart rate, which could be perceived as alarming despite being normal.


Additionally, some professional athletes have found that wearing a watch hinders their progress during a workout. As Olympic marathoner Trevor Hofbauer told CNN, "If you have too much information being fed to you in real-time, it can kind of get in your head." This is because all of the data that's available in real-time could force you to feel like you have to keep checking your watch, leading to a generally slower pace and an interrupted workout.

The bottom line is that fitness trackers may not be harmful to wear, but they could cause damage to your mental health and self-esteem in the long run, particularly if you have health anxiety.