- Data only helps if translated into useful, actionable information
- Biotrackers don’t work for everyone but for most users, they improve accountability, motivation, and engagement
- Trackers are not one size fits all. Choosing the right approach to behavior change means figuring out what works best for you.
Are you sporting an Apple Watch, FitBit, Oura Ring, or other smart wearables? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us have been lured into the magical world of biotrackers and wearables by the promise that personal data will give us the ability to change our behavior and increase our health and wellbeing. But do they work? Are they actually good for us?
Using Data to Change Behavior
Biotrackers reflect our increasingly data-driven world combined with the age-old passion for self-improvement — now through self-knowledge gained by personal data.
The sophisticated biotrackers of 2022 have a long and illustrious history evolved from old-school manual tracking based on stopwatches, thermometers, and pen and paper to track our health, exercise, and diet logs. Now we have device-enabled automatic data collection-measuring ourselves and sometimes even others.
In 2013, Pew Research reported that 69% of US adults keep track of at least one health indicator-weight, diet, exercise, or physical symptoms (Fox & Duggan, 2013). Now, nearly ten years later, one in four US adults have data tracking capacity, whether they use it or not, wearing a smartwatch such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit (Vogels, 2020).
That doesn’t count the data collection on apps like WW, MyFitnessPro, Inner Balance, or exercise machines like the Peloton or the rising popularity of the Oura Ring and Lumen metabolism monitor. The devices are also now linked; the watch or treadmill connects to an app, and apps share data with each other.
Data By Itself Isn’t Useful
But let’s be honest. Data all by itself isn’t helpful. We have to analyze data to turn it into meaningful, useful information that, hopefully, gives us insights that empower or motivate change. And increasingly, our devices don’t just collect; they have…