The Current

The tyranny of Fitbit goals can create artificial happiness

Fitness tracking technologies like the Fitbit and certain smart watch apps are all the rage. People are hell bent on making their goal of 10,000 steps a day. But is the 10,000 step goal really healthy for us... psychologically?
Can't hit 10,000 steps a day? Not to worry 7500 will do just fine, says Catrine Tudor-Locke, a professor of the University of Massachussets at the forefront of walking research. (Matt Karp, Flickr CC)

Excerpt from "Stepping Out: Living the Fitbit life" by David Sedaris

During the first few weeks that I had it, I'd return to my hotel at the end of the day, and when I discovered that I'd taken a total of, say, twelve thousand steps, I'd go out for another three thousand.

"But why?" Hugh asked when I told him about it. "Why isn't twelve thousand enough?"

"Because," I told him, "my Fitbit thinks I can do better."

Read David Sedaris' full essay, "Stepping Out: Living the Fitbit life"

Excerpts from STEPPING OUT are broadcast with the permission of David Sedaris and Giddy Goat Productions. STEPPING OUT was first published by the New Yorker and this recording was first broadcast by the BBC. ©2014 by David Sedaris


David Sedaris is hardly alone as a devotee of fitness tracking technology. You've likely seen more and more people sporting the colourful plastic bracelets that count each and every step throughout the day.

There are apps now for smart phones, and smart watches, too. And 10,000 steps has become the daily goal -- and mantra -- for many hoping to walk themselves to better health. Failing to make the big 10K steps per day is to admit defeat.

Catrine Tudor-Locke is at the forefront of walking research. She's a Professor and Chair of the Department of Kinesiology at  the University of Massachussets in Amherst. 

"Stop logging and start living," says Andre Spicer on the tyranny of Fitbits. (streetwrk.com, Flickr CC)

Part of the allure of FitBits and other wearable devices is the way they can inspire and motivate you to go the extra mile. But when the extra mile becomes the twentieth or twenty-fifth mile, it may be time to sit and think about your fitness choices. 

Andre Spicer is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass Business School at City University London. He is also the co-author of "The Wellness Syndrome." We reached him today in Sydney Australia.
 

Are you a slave to your Fitbit, a step counter app, or another device? Does it motivate you or discourage you?

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This segment was produced by Calgary Network Producer, Michael O'Halloran.
 

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