Are Fitness Trackers Replacing Routine Health Assessments?

Benefits & Drawbacks

This article discusses the benefits and important considerations when using fitness trackers.

Updated:   Published

  • Specializes in Acute Care, Geriatrics, Community Health. Has 10 years experience.
Benefits & Drawbacks

Fitness trackers are becoming increasingly popular. Popular fitness trackers include FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin Vivoactive, and Whoop. With each new release, these intelligent devices are becoming more innovative and sophisticated. These trackers are undeniably fun and helpful, from tracking your steps and monitoring your sleep patterns to analyzing your heart and rhythm. With the advancing technologies, it can be tempting to think they are a good substitute for an actual doctor's visit. After all, these trackers monitor your heart rate and other vitals in real-time and provide detailed reports on your activity levels. But while fitness trackers are convenient, they should not be used as a replacement for routine health assessment. Let's explore why.

What Are Fitness Trackers?

Fitness trackers are small devices that monitor health stats such as heart rate, calories burned, steps taken, sleep patterns, and even oxygen saturation levels. These devices sync with smartphone apps or websites to give detailed reports about your activities over time.

The Popularity of Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers have been gaining popularity among consumers looking to stay fit and healthy. These devices are relatively affordable and easy to use. Many people find that having the ability to track their activity levels and set goals helps them stay motivated and focused.

How Are Fitness Trackers Improving Health?

Motivation

Often people using these devices are looking to either get or stay healthy. With features that include activity reminders and goal setting, these devices can give users the motivation they seek.

Accountability

Fitness trackers can ensure you stay accountable to your fitness routine. Some fitness trackers remind you to move when you have been sitting too long or remind you to drink water.

Community Building

Many of these devices allow you to compete with others with the same tracker. You can create daily or weekly exercise challenges with your family and friends and compare your health metrics as you progress. Users may send instant messages to share updates and provide feedback. This feature can be a fun and engaging way to connect with others while staying active.

Health Monitoring

Many of these devices have features like heart rate monitors or electrocardiograms (ECG). These features allow users to keep tabs on their cardiovascular health and even alert them if something appears amiss. Users can also track sleep patterns and receive feedback on improving sleep quality.

Reduce stress

Additionally, some trackers come with activities to manage anxiety or stress, like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.

Improve Weight Loss

Many fitness trackers have diet tracking and calorie counting tools, which can help users track nutrition habits to help them achieve weight loss goals.

The Downside of Fitness Trackers

While there is no denying that fitness trackers can undoubtedly be beneficial when it comes to monitoring one's overall health and wellness routine, it is essential to note that there are also some drawbacks associated with using them. For instance, relying too heavily on these devices can lead to a false sense of security regarding one's health status since they do not provide medical advice or diagnose any illnesses or diseases. Additionally, some models may not be 100% accurate when measuring specific metrics such as heart rate, calorie burn or sleep quality.

While fitness trackers can undoubtedly be helpful when it comes to tracking activity levels and giving you the tools you need to stay motivated, they do not replace a routine health assessment from a medical professional. Fitness trackers are another tool in your arsenal to achieve optimal wellness; however, combining traditional methods (like doctor visits) and modern technology (like fitness trackers) can be a great way to improve overall health. 

Rebecca Minott, BScN RN, is a registered nurse and freelance health writer with experience in acute care and community health. Her passion is writing engaging health content to empower and educate communities.

4 Articles   4 Posts

Share this post


Erin Lee, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 14 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC. Has 11 years experience.

Great article! I love my Apple Watch, it's like keeping a tamagotchi alive, only the tamagotchi is me 🤣. In all seriousness it does help me stay motivated and accountable, especially with my work outs. But you are absolutely correct that these tools should not be used to replace seeing an actual medical professional for ones health. 

Emergent, RN

2 Articles; 4,065 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

Fitness trackers seem to me to be a faddish gimmick. I doubt if they really have much impact on people's health. I also don't think someone has to be monitored constantly by a physician if they are free of health problems. I don't think going to a doctor frequently is going to improve one's fitness either.

I am a fit person. My advice is to include activity in one's daily life. I also think it's helpful to eat a lower carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are all too abundant in the modern diet, and contribute to the explosion of obesity.

Also, skipping breakfast is a good way to improve ones metabolism. Once the body becomes acclimated to periodic fasting, it shifts the metabolism in a positive way. Our ancestors were able to do very well with periods of fasting. They didn't have supermarkets and refrigerators. They weren't driving up to the coffee bar and getting sugary drinks on a daily basis. Human beings evolved to deal with fluctuations in availability of foods. The constant availability of food is not beneficial to general metabolic health.