Here Is Why People Are Giving Up Fitness Devices Despite Growing Popularity

In Education

Monitoring daily step count, heart rate, jogging metrics like pace and ascent, and recording annual cycling distance have nowadays become standard practices in the sports community, including among amateur enthusiasts.

Self-quantification tools surge associated with increased digitization of exercise

The ongoing digitization of physical activity occurs in the context of a worldwide surge in self-quantification tools, which are employed for assessing work productivity, monitoring aspects like calorie intake, blood sugar levels, weight, and sleep patterns.

It is important to note that the sports technology sector is highly lucrative and competitive, valued at approximately $12 billion annually. Finnish researchers Pekka Mertala and Lauri Palsa note the extensive presence of over 10,000 portable digital devices for running, contributing to the widespread adoption of smartwatches and mobile applications, utilized by around 90% of amateur runners.

Tracking your body with numbers offers promises of increased activity, happiness, and health, emphasizing empowerment. Objective and transparent, it serves as the foundation for personal self-optimization projects, aiding motivation and discouraging unhealthy habits. Devices also foster community engagement, enhancing motivation through mutual encouragement and competition. However, there’s a current market slowdown due to a widespread trend of discontinuing or limited use of digital tracking devices, reflecting a shift in consumer behavior.

Distracted attention and cognitive overload results in discontinuation

The discontinuation of connected devices, particularly in sports, is unevenly distributed among the population. Men in urban, highly educated, socially advantaged, and physically active demographics predominantly adopt these devices. The 30-39 age group shows the highest prevalence of smart bracelets and smartwatches. However, various factors contribute to discontinuation, such as logistical overload, time-consuming data transfer and interpretation, inaccuracies in data collection, and challenges in understanding and utilizing the data.

The rejection of certain devices in sports may stem from a decline in the overall experience quality. Some participants view quantifying activities as turning them into obligatory work rather than enjoyable, self-determined leisure. This shift from intrinsic to extrinsic motivation, driven by rewards and comparisons, can create fear of failure and feelings of shame. Cognitive overload and distracted attention further results in disconnect from the present moment and bodily sensations during the activity.

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