back to article Wearable fitness tech: Exercising your self-motivation skills

Fitness trackers, sleep trackers and more are all the rage these days. How many of you have a Fitbit, Jawbone, or other device that’s intended to either incentivise or depress you by reminding you of how far you’ve walked, or how long you’ve been sat down? Apple’s Watch will even remind you to stand up from time to time, as long …

  1. Graham Marsden

    Talk about...

    ... a solution in search of a problem!

    How many of these are going to end up slung in the back of a drawer after a week/ month/ year?

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: Talk about...

      > How many of these are going to end up slung in the back of a drawer

      All of them! People will either realise they don't need a device to tell them whether or not they have just been for a run, or they will have bought a newer fancier one within a few months anyway.

      I can see the point of one of these if it has an alarm (or even activates a defib zapper) if the patient has no heartbeat, these could be dead handy in a zombie apocalypse. Admittedly perhaps less useful after the batteries run out but by then it really won't be my problem any more.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Talk about...

        Exactly; some of the sleep trackers can be used, apparently, in things like nursing homes, where they can alert the staff if a resident has woken up in in the night and tried to get out of bed. I can see that would be useful / a good way to cut down on staff and boost profits.

        But I'm not entirely convinced that someone who isn't already motivated to keep fit/loose weight will magically become so, simply because they have a shiny new gadget that's going to flash numbers up on their phone, or send smug congratulatory notifications. It might work for a while, but once the novelty's worn off...

        1. Martin

          Re: Talk about...

          ...loose weight...

          Is that when your beer belly wobbles?

          Loose - not tight.

          Lose - mislay.


          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: Talk about...

            Oops. I done a typo.

            Spank me!

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        @ Defibrillator

        I have mixed feelings about this add-on. One of the treadmills at my old gym sometimes showed a believable heart rate. If we ignore that one and average the rest, then my heart rate has been zero for years. As I feel fine, I clearly do not need a defibrillator.

        If lots of other people choose to wear an internet connected defibrillator, I foresee endless fun for sadistic crackers.

    2. Spearchucker Jones

      Re: Talk about...

      Exactly. I have a Microsoft Band, which I so had to have and got from the US before it was available in the UK. I absolutely love that thing. And I haven't worn in months.

      1. Extra spicey vindaloo

        Re: Talk about...

        I use a sleep tracker/alarm on my iPhone, it's so much better than a conventional alarm as it wakes you up within 45 mins of the alarm when you are nearly awake. Instead of jolting you out of that nice dream you were having.

        1. Obitim

          Re: Talk about...

          I use a sleep tracker/alarm on my iPhone, it's so much better than a conventional alarm as it wakes you up within 45 mins of the alarm when you are nearly awake. Instead of jolting you out of that nice dream you were having.

          Only thing I worry about with those alarms is if they wake me up later than the time I set...

  2. Aaiieeee

    On yer bike!

    The only stat I monitor is my waist using a tape measure once a week on Sunday. If my size is the same or larger than last week I make a concerted effort to eat less the coming week.

    I have found that my commute is the perfect time to work out - since the start of the year I have been cycling 24 miles a day in London from zone 4 to Holborn and back - its awesome! The benefits are many and the main excuse is 'I cant be bothered' which frankly isn't good enough :)

    (Icon = the personal trainer in my head)

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: On yer bike!

      I would say that sort of mileage makes you an exceptional commuter, and probably very healthy when compared to the average blob.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On yer bike!

        24 miles a day is definitely on the serious side of the bell curve. I managed 22 miles a day for a while but if I was doing it again I would invest in an electric assist. These days I have a far more agreeable five mile each way commute. One of the best parts of my day.

    2. JC_

      Re: On yer bike!

      " I have been cycling 24 miles a day in London from zone 4 to Holborn and back - its awesome!"

      You've been breathing the fumes too deeply - cycling in London sucks! It's better than the alternatives, but could be so much better with a little investment and some traffic enforcement.

      Anyway, good on you for cycling so much and staying chipper - I do 22 miles per day and find that a grind by the end of the week or earlier when the cabs/weather/plane trees misbehave.

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Motivation is all

    Buy underpants one size too small is a cost-effective motivational tip.

    As a bonus, you'll only be sharing your statistics with St Michael and his angels.

    Oh, and try not to consume too many of these (tough, I know).

  4. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Missing the point?

    Maybe there are other reasons for wearable fitness - factors such as:

    + is it cool to have

    + is it fashionable

    + will my peers accept it positively

    + does it satisfy my inner vision of myself

    + does it satisfy or convey the image I wish to project



    + will it encourage me to exercise more or increase my personal fitness

    (having, say, MS Office on a mobile device does not automatically imply everyone will try to create prose, plays, movie scripts, War & Peace, ... no?)

    1. JP19

      Re: Missing the point?

      "Maybe there are other reasons for wearable fitness - factors such as"

      Nice list - more succinctly replaced with

      I am a pathetic spineless fool with no real friends or life.

  5. dogged

    Were fitness trackers ever actually supposed to be motivational tools?

    I quite like mine but I have to say that it doesn't really influence whether I exercise or not. It's quite handy for telling me when to stop, though.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Some of them certainly do use that sort of language in their promo material; on the Jawbone site, for example, one of the lines is "Make fitness a habit. Wear the motivation you need on your wrist to improve your days and nights."

      Even if they didn't, I suspect a lot of people might buy them with that intention - "I know I should walk more. Maybe if I get a gadget that tells me how far I've gone, that'll motivate me to keep up with the target"

      I know I've certainly thought like that. Usually before concluding that, actually, I live 50 metres from a decent pub, and that's quite far enough, thank you very much.

    2. rh587 Silver badge

      Some of them are promoted as such. I wouldn't say mine motivates me so much as guilts me. The Fitbit defaults to a target of 10,000 steps per day, and although I knew I was a bit sedentary, I didn't realise I was often only doing 2000, which is only the equivalent of a short walk to the shops and back!

      Ironically, when I'm on "holiday" I find myself easily exceeding 15,000 steps just from ambling around and about.

      As a result, I've had a few days now when it's prompted me to pick up the camera and go for a nice walk, with the bonus that aside from getting some fresh air (and getting my steps up), I've been getting more use out of my camera!

    3. MargoWick

      Great question. What IS the purpose of wearables? Tracking appears to help some people walk more and that's a good thing. But if we're looking for something to help motivate us to exercise more, maybe we need something that makes exercise more appealing...maybe even fun. Gasp! GojiPlay is a game system designed to be used on cardio equipment and make the time on the elliptical or bike fly by quickly while playing games. Millions of us intend to work out, but most of us can't get inspired enough by cardio machines to do even a few minutes of exercise. We're not bad people, we're just bored with repetitive motion and we prefer to play games.

      Yeah, there are those people who love to do cardio, but most of us don't. I like the idea of collecting helpful date, but it seems like it'd be more useful to find ways to motivate people to get and stay fit, rather than just gather data about them not doing that. Full disclosure, I work for Blue Goji. This topic is near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to chime in.

  6. Warm Braw

    Treating your personal data with the same care as the medical professionals

    Being of the appropriate age group, I did receive an invitation to join Biobank. As I recall, although they did promise to try very hard to keep your data safe, they were honest enough to admit they couldn't control the future and that courts or a future government might overrule them.

    And that's the problem - it doesn't really matter how much you trust people with your data now, it's what will happen to that data in 10, 20 or 30 years time that's the issue. So, it would be careless to give it away in exchange for information you could glean simply by looking in a mirror.

  7. Tikimon

    Another failing Magic Fitness Pill?

    Most people - for diverse reasons - simply don't want to do any work to be fit. They don't want to change their diet, exercise, any of that tedious stuff. Most diets and other fads are driven by people looking for something easy they can do and magically lose weight (notice, NOT "be fit"). Many of the people actually doing exercise are putting in the minimum effort to say they're done it, not working hard for real change.

    I suspect fitness trackers are the current Magic Pill Prospect. But like other fitness plans, folks eventually find out that Work Is Involved if you want real results. The band doesn't make one magically slim without effort, so it goes in the drawer. The devices are victims of unreasonable expectations.

    At least an unused Fitbit takes up less space than the millions of dust-covered rowing machines, treadmills, bikes, ab-rollers and other once-hopeful Magic Fitness gadgets cluttering garages.

    1. Obitim

      Re: Another failing Magic Fitness Pill?

      We have an exercise bike in the house that now masquerades as a clothes horse, instead we looked at what was actually needed for substantial and lasting change (positive habit building and not seeing dieting as dieting, but changing how we view food and what we eat and changing one little thing at a time)

      Managed to shift 2 stone for my wedding last year, but more importantly those habits that I;d built in the year previously ensured the weight has stayed off...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wake me up when they show wearable nudist tech.

  9. Tempest8008

    I wear one...

    I have a Misfit Shine I got (subsidized) through my work.

    I wear it on my wrist.

    It also acts as a watch.

    I'm out of shape and I know it, and like most of you I sit at a desk all day with occasional forays to the vending machine.

    I have to say that I'm walking more because of it. Instead of sitting all lunch catching up on the latest TV show I missed I go for a walk instead. The goal is 10,000 steps per day. If I get half of those in before I head home I'm going to hit that target, so I AM walking more. Which is good.

    Since the start of May I've dropped 7-8lbs, and while I could have done that on my own, the Shine, I think, has been a motivation. I've been wearing it for a month now, and it's not going anywhere but back on my wrist.

  10. phil dude

    HR monitor...

    I started to run with an HR monitor (polar strap) about 2 years ago, and it has been nothing short of amazing the addition of objective data to a workout can add.

    As you train, you can see the improvement in the cardiovascular system in weeks and months.

    Does a HRM help lose weight? Probably not.

    Does HRM help to objectively improve your health? Absolutely.

    Now we need devices we can use in the water too...


    1. Salts

      Re: HR monitor...

      You are after the Tickrx from wahoo fitness :-) works in water, to be honest not quite right with the software, however as you understand heart rate training you will be able to work round issues, I would offer to let you try mine, but bollocks I use it every day :-)

      I have found heart rate training the best for me, there are days when you think "I am training so hard" and look at my heart rate and I am on holiday, the reverse is also true. It is also interesting in a geek/nerd way.

  11. keith_w

    I've worn my fitbit for 2 years now

    And it absolutely motivates me to get off my BFB and walk more. I look at the numbers each evening and then head out to walk to try to achieve the 10,000 step goal. I usually don't quite make it, but if I didn't wear the thing (a fitbit one) I probably wouldn't even try.

  12. Paul K

    Works for me

    I have used a Fitbit for over a year, and regularly go out for a walk after I get home to do the daily number of steps (11,000 per day this year vs 10,000 last year). Combined with the scales, I can see the dramatic decrease in weight (over 15kg so far) of consistently hitting the target. Yes, I also see the declining waist size, but the daily target seems to make a difference.

  13. DocJames

    I think it's about shifting the bell curve of the population's exercise.

    Those who currently do 5 000 steps are encouraged to do 8 000.

    Those who currently do 8 000 push harder to achieve 10 000

    etc etc

    Friend has discovered that she easily achieves her 12 000 during the week, but is remarkably sedentary at the weekends. Now pushes herself and routinely achieves 12 000 daily.

    And remember, cardiovascular fitness (achieved through moderate to vigorous exertion) is different from having an active lifestyle (10 000 steps a reasonable example). Both are good for your 1) longevity and 2) shortening the period of poor health at the end of your life.

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