Do you really care about health tracking wearables?

It’s interesting what is going on in the wearables camp. There are two separate factions – fitness bands and smartwatches, both claiming to do just enough of the other to make the other not necessary. FitBits, and Bands, and 360’s abound in the wearables circle. Most of the time, we here at Pocketnow talk about the watches more than the bands, but there is that other camp that keeps hanging around so let’s step aside for a moment and examine.

Health and fitness trackers have made a bigger boom in the industry than smartwatches to date. There are a number of factors surrounding that – they were here first, they are probably a bit on the easier side to make, they can be smaller/less obtrusive, etc. But what is it about these devices that make them so compelling?

fitbit-surgeWho are you really selling to

I’ll admit, I’m not a fitness nut. I’m not a fitness amateur. I’m not even sure I can spell “fitness”. Obviously something like this is probably going to be low on the priority list for me. But then, why is it high on the list for anyone? “Real” health nuts don’t care how many steps they walked, they care about how many 150 pound reps they did. Maybe there is a market for GPS tracking in long distance runs/bike rides, but do folks need a wearable for that?

It seems to me, the real demographic for wearables are people who use them to actually count their steps in a day. Why they count their steps, I don’t know. I’m not so sure that steps really matter from an overall health perspective. We all walk a lot every day – or at least those with day jobs in offices do. I’m not so sure that 10,000 steps in a day makes a bigger difference than 9,000 steps in a day in the long term. I suppose if you get home and find you’ve only walked 6,000 steps then you can go out for a nice walk, but from a health and fitness standpoint, strolling around the block isn’t going to help you live longer.

gear-fitI’m not a doctor, but I play one in editorials

After all, I’m not a couch potato. I go geocaching, which puts an extra couple hundred miles on my legs every year. I easily put more miles on my bike than on my car last summer. I can do eighty pushups in a row – admitted bad pushups, but better than none. And yet, the last time I visited the doctor, they almost needed a second scale to weigh me.

Granted, none of this is coming from a doctor. I’m just a tech media guy. I could be way off on this. But I don’t think I am. I just think that if exercise and health really matter to you, you don’t go buy a FitBit, you go buy a gym membership. I think FitBits and other health-centric wearables are crutches that we non-fitness folks use to make us feel good just before we eat that funnel cake.

PedometerAccuracy is optional

Plus, let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room – they’re not necessarily all that accurate. I’ve read reports about different wearables worn on the same hand over the course of a day recording wildly different results. So, if there’s that much margin for error, then what’s the point of tracking in the first place?

This is coming off much more like a critical rant than I want it to. The reality is, I just don’t know how good these things are, or how much they help you in the long run. I know that my Moto 360 does track stuff like that, and I know I don’t particularly care about it. Maybe if I were a more active sort, like Jaime or Anton, I might care a lot more. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, so let’s take it to the masses.

What do you think about health-centric wearables? Are they worth the extra money to you? Are you a health nut or a step-tracking step-tracker? Let us know and we’ll go from there.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!