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Technology provides us with an abundance of online workouts, guides, and inspiration to help improve our fitness. It’s easy to track and monitor progress on smartphones or smartwatches, and fitness tech can provide insights into performance and health.
Yet, as with most things in life, there are pros and cons to using technology to improve your fitness.
From reaching your fitness goals to becoming obsessed with numbers, and from working out at home to feeling isolated, here are the pros and cons of relying on technology to improve your fitness.
The Pros of Using Technology to Improve Your Fitness
Fitness tech is designed to support your health and well-being. Here are six ways that using technology can help your fitness and why.
1. You Can Work Out Anywhere
With countless workout apps available for smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices like the Apple Watch, you can easily access fitness content wherever you are. You can use fitness tech in the privacy of your home, at the gym, for outdoor activities, and even for workspace exercises.
Thanks to technology, it’s easy to find exercises that cater to your personal preferences, schedule, and location. You can also try a new exercise class in private if you lack the confidence to work with others.
Technology removes the restrictions of when, where, and how you exercise, empowering you to improve your fitness on your terms.
2. You Can Access Fitness Content on Any Device
Whether you prefer to use your phone, laptop, fitness tracker, or games console, you can find and access fitness content on any device.
While exercise apps for your mobile or tablet are the popular choice, you can also keep fit with the help of your favorite gaming console. This can either be in the form of an intentional fitness game (think Just Dance and Ring Fit Adventure on Nintendo Switch), while some VR games can help you exercise without you realizing it.
If you don’t have a smartphone or gaming console, YouTube provides an extensive range of free fitness content that is accessible through smart TVs and computers.
3. You Can Save Money on Gym Memberships
Many of us had to say goodbye (at least temporarily) to our gym memberships in 2020. But this gave rise to an influx of free online fitness content for us to utilize instead (to be honest, had you heard of Chloe Ting or Joe Wicks before the pandemic?)
Similar to how some businesses have permanently shifted to work-from-home offices, there has been a permanent change for some who have canceled their gym memberships in favor of exercising at home. With such a wide variety of online fitness content available, saving money on an expensive gym membership to work out for free seems like a no-brainer.
4. You Can Find Endless Workouts to Suit Your Personal Preferences
Gone are the days of scouring your local area for a fitness class to suit your interests. Thanks to technology, you can experiment with trying a variety of exercises for free, bridging the gap between identifying the type of fitness you enjoy and your ability to try it.
Whether you’re an energetic cardio fan, zen yoga warrior, strength trainer, or open to a new type of exercise, you can discover all styles of workouts online to help you improve your fitness. Most paid-for online classes and fitness apps also offer a free trial, so you can shop around until you find a regime that appeals to you.
5. Tracking Can Help You Progress and Train Effectively
According to John Hopkins Medicine, consistently using a fitness tracker can improve your heart health, encourage you to move more throughout the day, and empower you to take control of your fitness and health.
Fitbit trackers, smartwatches, and smartphones offer health and fitness tracking features. Check out these tips to make the most of your fitness tracker.
6. You Can Choose Whether to Exercise Alone or With Others
Forget sweating it out in front of strangers in the gym. Technology allows you to exercise with your favorite people or in private. Thanks to the variety of online fitness content and the convenience of using technology, you have the option to invite your friend for a run, play a dance game at home with your roommate, or enjoy an exercise session alone.
The Cons of Relying on Technology to Improve Your Fitness
There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to technology, and this is clear when it comes to using gadgets to improve your fitness. Here are six reasons why using technology to improve your fitness can be a bad thing.
1. Fitness Tech Can Encourage Dependence and Obsession
Fitness tech including, smartwatches, can be detrimental to your well-being as some features may cause dependence, obsession, and addiction.
Fitness trackers have the potential to drive you to over-exercising by increasing your goal limits each week. Having constant access to health data on your devices can also lead to a fixation on numbers (such as weight loss or exercise minutes) rather than the exercise itself.
Fitness apps and trackers also gamify fitness goals which can trigger a dopamine addiction. If tracking workouts causes you anxiety, consider taking a break or seeking support from someone you trust.
2. Exercising Exclusively at Home Might Affect Your Mental Health
According to Medical News Today, spending prolonged periods at home can increase the risk of depression and anxiety. So while you believe you’re improving your health while exercising at home, you may damage your mental health.
Additionally, satisfying the need to exercise using an indoor device may still prevent you from spending more time outside. Sunlight is important for both our mental well-being and vitamin D levels, so exercising inside with your gadgets—instead of taking a walk—might negatively impact your health.
3. Fitness Devices Can Distract You When Exercising Outdoors
It’s becoming increasingly common to use technology for exercising outdoors. Wearable devices are popular among runners, cyclists, and swimmers to track sessions, and many will be plugged into music as they exercise.
While technology can support your outdoor workouts, it can reduce your awareness of your immediate environment. Distraction from your surroundings while you skip songs or check your progress on your device’s screen can cause you to stumble, miss traffic cues, or even collide with another human!
4. Not all Online Fitness Content Is Trustworthy
The downside to having so much free fitness content available is that not all the sources and fitness influencers you find are trustworthy or credible.
Some websites offer reputable fitness content, but you need to be wary of the sources of workouts or health information you’re using. Many fitness influencers just want to be famous and aren’t certified in the area of expertise that they claim to know. Following uninformed fitness content can put you at risk of injury or even being scammed by a fitness impersonator.
5. You’re at Risk of Developing the “Toolbox Fallacy”
Have you ever convinced yourself that you can’t complete a certain task without a specific tool or method? Say, you need the perfect desk to do your job, only cook dinner using specific utensils, or even reject happiness until you reach your goal weight. This is the toolbox fallacy, and it’s a self-deception tool many of us have fallen for.
When it comes to relying on technology to improve your fitness, you may feel like you’re incapable of working out without your watch tracking you, without listening to music, or without a digital guide to follow. The toolbox fallacy prevents you from being able to exercise independently of the technology you’re reliant on.
6. Fitness Trackers Aren’t Always Accurate
The question of accuracy and tracker devices often comes into question, whether that’s how accurate the Fitbit calorie tracker is, whether your GPS is precise or off the mark, or if your app managed to track your progress at all.
Inaccurate trackers are not only frustrating, but they can distract you from your real goal of improving your fitness. Fixating on tracking your progress rather than enjoying your activity can also cause low self-esteem if you fail to meet your daily goals.
Is Relying on Technology to Improve Your Fitness a Good or Bad Thing?
Although technology can enhance your workouts and improve your fitness, it also has the potential to negatively impact your health and well-being.
The pros and cons of relying on technology to improve your fitness boil down to your experience. If you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or dependent on your fitness devices, try taking a break or speaking to a professional for support.