Are fitness trackers bad for your health?

Name: Fitness gadget.

Age: About a decade.

Appearance: A neat little stress headache that wraps around your wrist.

Can we have this discussion a bit later? I’m only halfway to reaching my 10,000 steps. This is exactly the problem. When did you start using fitness apps?

About a year ago, I think. And how do you feel?

Great! I mean, I’m constantly exhausted, and I can’t remember the last time I ate anything that wasn’t predominately kale-based. But you’re thinner and happier, right?

Well, happier is a strong word. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to march furiously up and down my office for 10 solid minutes. See? This is what I’m talking about. It has been suggested that wearing a fitness device is little more than a recipe for gigantic anxiety.

Anxiety? But my fitness app tells me everything. I know how inert I am, I know how badly I sleep, I know precisely the type of nutrients that are missing from my diet. And, according to the latest issue of the BMJ, that’s where you’re going wrong.

How so? In the article, Scottish GP Des Spence writes: “The truth is that these apps and devices are untested and unscientific, and they will open the door of uncertainty. Make no mistake: diagnostic uncertainty ignites extreme anxiety in people.”

So in other words … That’s right, your obsession with monitoring every single aspect of your health 24 hours a day is probably turning you into a frantic hypochondriac.

Is this like the time I Googled symptoms of my toothache and ended up diagnosing myself with skull cancer? More or less, except the only treatment on offer is walking around a lot and mainlining kale like some sort of sweaty rabbit.

What should I do? You could always throw your wearable device away.

But it cost so much money. Then invent an app that arbitrarily flashes up phrases like “Everything’s OK” and “Go for a walk, but only if you feel like it” and “A mouthful of ice-cream isn’t going to kill you” throughout the day. You will probably make a fortune.

Do say: “Stop being such a slave to your possessions.”

Don’t say: “Feature idea: Worry Your Way Into a Bikini Body.”

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