According to recent surveys, 1 in 10 people in the United States have some form of fitness device, such as the ‘all singing and all dancing’ Apple Watch, or something a little more simple such as a Fitbit.
Many others use apps or a form of sensor to monitor for everything from illness or stress, and even substance abuse (rumor has it that this side of health monitoring is on the increase).
But have tech companies gone that bit too far and been over-zealous, possibly causing detriment to our health and concentration on the wrong aspects of keeping well?
It could be.
Are High Tech Devices Taking Over Our Bodies?
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As the world becomes increasingly health-conscious, technology is keeping up with this demand.
We live in an age of smartphone apps and watches that set fitness targets in terms of how many steps we take, how many calories we burn, what is our heart rate, what exercise regimes we take on and more.
They are apparently a walking medical record of how our body is performing at any one time of the day.
The question is, are these well-meaning programs actually having a detrimental effect on our health?
Can such devices actually detract from your aims and cause other problems, including obsessions and addictions?
It would appear so.
These high tech devices with supposed ‘state of the art’ information and ease of use can easily create an exercise addiction to the extreme, and negatively affect your health and do your body more harm than value.
There is certainly a dark side to trackers and apps.
Our Body Should Be A Well-Oiled Machine
Photo Credit: Insomnia Cured Here
Here’s the thing – these gadgets are computers, and your body is organic.
That may sound obvious, but it seems that so many of us forget to bear this in mind.
If our watch or smartphone tells us to drop and give it twenty, we do so without thinking, and ignore the warning signs that our body may be trying to send us through pain, breathlessness or muscular strains.
In a world where our youngsters are more and more obsessed with any techie device, this is especially dangerous to children, who are using such devices with increasing regularity and placing the future health of their developing bodies at risk.
With the advent of fitness games now available to all, our children are at even higher risk.
Exercise For Your body Is Individual
Every single individual has different needs when it comes to their exercise regime, and one size does not fit all; a woman of 5’3, for example, will have vastly different needs to a man of 6’2.
Becoming a slave to technology robs us of our intuition, which is essential when it comes to working out.
Remember that excessive exercise is just as harmful as insufficient activity.
A gadget cannot work out these variables on your behalf, and that’s before pre-existing health concerns are taken into consideration.
Working out beyond the threshold of your body’s capability can harm your immune system, weaken your bones and negatively impact on your heart rate.
Of course, not reaching the targets that your device sets could also lead to further issues with your self-esteem.
Nobody likes to feel as though they have failed at a target they have set themselves, and the blinking lights of a display screen telling them just that can have a hugely detrimental effect on anybody’s sense of self-worth.
Some of these apps are focused only on results and make promises they cannot keep based on unsound science,
...which could lead to a vulnerable person feeling as though they have somehow failed.
You should also bear in mind that:
There is no guarantee or promise of accuracy with what is displayed.
Like any other technical device or machine, they can go wrong, or display inaccurate information.
One hour of HIT will display as high activity on your device, whereas 2 hours of power yoga will show low activity, even though you have ended up as a sweaty mess!
Your personal life should come first
Using trackers, apps or other devices can definitely affect your life – if an obsession does develop, you can quickly forget all other important aspects of your life, family etc.
The desire to keep under the regime of what you are being told can often mean you will neglect other issues, appointments and general day to day activity that makes your world tick.
Late for work, or forget to pick the kids up from school?
It’s all possible and closer than you think.
There definitely is a fine line between using devices properly or becoming obsessed.
Photo Credit: James Worrell
Alternatively, you may make it over the line to your target and feel on top of the world – good on you!
But then what?
You ache all over and hurt in parts of your body that you didn’t know existed – you deserve a reward for your efforts.
Unless you’re pairing your fitness tracker with a high-tech nutrition calculator, it’s easy to undo all of your effort with one treat afterwards
– or you may struggle to reach your aim, and attempt to bury your disappointment through unhealthy food or drinks.
This is especially dangerous if you are working exclusively towards a target weight – whilst your BMI is hugely important, there are variables to the calculation that a machine cannot make.
You can end up pushing too hard to meet your targets, dropping to extremely low calorie intake and even skipping essential meals – all because you are being told too by and inordinate body computer.
Listen to your body above taking instructions from a machine.
We should also look into the fact that exercise should be a break from technology, not the addition of yet another screen to your day.
In addition to the opportunity to give your eyes a break from such stimulation, several studies have shown that the use of electrical appliances in the evening is a key cause of insomnia.
Even the most dedicated fitness fanatic will struggle to fit all the activity that an app or a device recommends into daylight hours and thus carry their exercise over to the evening.
A good night’s sleep is every bit as important as a workout to a healthy lifestyle if you are on the road to both fitness and premium health.
Is Radiation A Danger From Devices & Apps?
There are also health concerns linked to being perennially attached to a wireless device.
Smart watches and armbands that attach our smartphones to our biceps are useful, but that’s a whole lot of radiation that you’re exposing yourself to in extremely close proximity.
Research continues to be conducted on this subject, but cautionary sounds are being made from scientists around the world – why take a chance?
There is no conclusive research yet that such devices can cause varying types of cancer through radiation, but it is recommended that most devices should always be kept as far from the head region as possible, which is not hard to do, unless whilst exercising with your device attached to your wrist, you are also talking at length on your mobile or smartphone!
Big Brother Is Watching You!
There is potentially a more sinister side to these devices. Health data is an exceptionally prized commodity for companies in the health industry to accumulate and assess.
In the USA, as reported by the Center for Digital Democracy and American University ‘there are no privacy safeguards for the protection of consumer health data’.
Mining such information is a highly profitable task by many industries, and there are no laws currently in place.
However in Europe there is a move for individuals to consent for personal health data to be used, so much so that insurance companies are supplying or offering cut-price devices for those that agree to data being stored.
Is this not becoming even closer to
‘Big Brother is watching you’?
So, if you don’t become a total hypochondriac, suffer from deep anxiety or make yourself unwell due to obsessive use, OCD or any other mentally based illness, someone out there will know all about you…
Finally, let’s just take a moment to remember a simple rule of thumb – exercise should be enjoyable, and a way to unwind and release endorphins.
Allowing a machine to dictate how and what you should be doing is a surefire way of preventing this from happening, and turning physical activity into a chore that you come to dread, or one that could make you physically and mentally ill. Beware.