Fitness Technology: The Future Or Just a Trend?

by: Dr. James Pumarada

Jawbone.  Fitbit.  Apple Fitness.  And now, Pokémon Go.  All are pieces of technology that are truly trying to revolutionize the way people keep moving and stay fit in the 21st century.  But do wearables & fitness apps really help?  And what do medical professionals think about this upsurge in fitness technology overall? 

The fact is that because these technologies are relatively new, the jury is still out with regards to their effect.  There are currently no real studies that have been completed regarding their effect on the overall fitness of its users.  So most of the evidence you're going to see currently will be purely anecdotal in nature. 

For our Physical Therapy patients that are coming in and asking for our professional opinion on these products, we really focus on giving 3 main pieces of advice.

If It Works For You, Then It's Worth It!

There is something to be said about following these trends.  Trends become trends for a reason.  Mainly, I like to narrow it down to a couple of reasons:  they do have the capacity to motivate to a certain extent, and some are just downright fun!  Most of the wearables & fitness apps now are set up very similarly and serve a very "video game" like function.  And let's face it, video games can be pretty darn entertaining.  If you're looking to make your fitness & health a little fun, they maybe this really IS that thing that'll keep you on point for the time being.

But that being said...

If It Was Hard To Stay Motivated Before, It'll Still Probably Be Hard To Stay Motivated

One of the main reasons why people have told us that they just needed to have some sort of fitness technological item was that they felt that it would finally be the thing that would keep them on track, so to speak. 

But remember, there is always some sort of product that comes out every few years or so that will supposedly make it easier for people to exercise while keeping them motivated.  If you just look around, you may see examples of them all over the place:  home treadmills & ellipticals, ab twisters, bikes that fit under desks at work, the Nintendo Wii, XBox Kinect, even the ever maligned Shake Weight, all variations on the same theme, most with 4 to 5 star reviews on Amazon just enticing you to buy that magical solution.

 
Remember this little fitness gem?  It still gets 4 stars on Amazon!

Remember this little fitness gem?  It still gets 4 stars on Amazon!

 

And the new fitness technological revolution fits right into that mold.  Only now, the equipment fits right on your hand or stores as an app on your phone. 

What you have to remember is that no one product is ever doing to do the deed for you.  Health & fitness is really a mental game, probably even more so than a physical one.  There is no magical store-bought product that is going to help you stay healthy & fit in your everyday life.  The decision is and always was yours as to whether or not you want to keep it up. 

It's up to you to decide if you want to spend the money on it.  But even if it ends up falling by the wayside, collecting dust in the corner, and not working in your favor, don't worry because...

It Isn't The First & Won't Be The Last Fitness Trend

I've already gone through some fitness trends that have popped up over the years.  And they all highlight one thing:  there's always going to be something popping up next.  After Fitbit & Pokémon Go, there will surely be another trend that'll sweep the nation and force scores to people to get on their feet and get moving.

So if the current trend doesn't seem to fit your fancy much, don't worry, the next trend just might.  But in the meantime, it's like I tell all my Physical Therapy patients & fitness clients:  it might not be what you want to hear, but you may have to look to your own good 'ol mental will power to get active & keep active!