How Useful Does Your Doctor View Your Fitness Tracker Data?

fitbit charge reviewI recently read an article about the growing popularity of wearable fitness trackers and their ability to provide key data that some may think their doctors should reference to see where they are health-wise. These days, the average wearable fitness tracker provides data such as the number of steps taken in a day and calories burned. Others provide even more data such as heart rate, sleep patterns, and even strength data.  Having all this “health” data at our hands is great, right?  Instead of waiting until we go to the doctor, take lab and other tests, and get our results back we can now get some of this data from a wearable fitness tracker such as heart rate, for example. But how much does the data fitness trackers provide such as the number of steps taken in a day or daily calorie burn really factor into our overall health?  And how useful is this data to your doctor? Maybe not quite useful as you think …if at all.  Sure, taking 10,000 steps a day may be great for you fitness-wise (assuming you do not have any other physical ailments that could make this harmful to you instead).  But what indication does it provide for any potential underlying health issues you may have? And how reliable is this data to provide a picture of your overall health?  Maybe you’ve been able to take 10,000 steps a day for the past few days and burn a few more calories than usual.  But when the weekend came you decided to drink 15 beers in a day (a bit extreme but it happens).  Now you have this data showing that you reached consistently reached your daily step goal during the week but no evidence of the 15 beers you drank on the weekend to celebrate your milestone.  And what if you normally drink 10-15 beers in a weekend? In such a case, how accurate of a picture of your overall health is a fitness tracker really providing?  Not much…and this is likely how your doctor sees it.  I work on the IT side of healthcare and I will tell you that reliable, measurable data typically based on patterns and evidence-based research is essential to physicians.  Therefore, it is my opinion that the data provided by fitness trackers is not very useful to your doctor in terms of your overall health.  Valuable to your personal trainer or wellness coach? Likely yes.  As an avid Fitbit wearer I find my fitness tracker extremely helpful for doing what the name stands for…tracking my fitness.  So if I’ve gained a few pounds in the past couple of weeks then maybe my fitness tracker can show me that I haven’t been burning as many calories or have gotten less sleep.  Quite helpful. But if I reverse these things and still can’t get rid of the unwanted pounds I’ve gained…well, there may be some other underlying issue going on.  And this is where my doctor can help…and understandably she will care much less about how many steps I’ve taken over the past couple of weeks and more about what real, measurable evidence-based data she can pull from her own examination.

So use your fitness tracker for its main purpose…tracking fitness. You really can’t go wrong with doing that since you’ll likely benefit from it health-wise.

About Keke

I'm a wife, mother, IT career woman, MBA, fun, loving person who enjoys wearing multiple hats and living life to the fullest. I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and have been working in the field of technology for over a decade, which I enjoy very much. Additionally, I'm passionate about fitness and eating well so I'm always researching related topics and enjoy sharing this information with others. My blog merges the things I'm passionate about by turning these topics into what I hope you find are interesting blog posts. So glad you stopped by and hope to see you back here soon!

3 comments on “How Useful Does Your Doctor View Your Fitness Tracker Data?

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