Look around; they’re everywhere. Not smartphones, but they frequently work in partnership, like Fred and Wilma but in a less caveperson style. People wear them on the wrist like people used to wear watches, which they are, but that’s just the tip of the flintstone, dear friend.
They’re known by a variety of names: activity trackers, fitness trackers, smartwatches – but they all do most of the same things. They keep track of, well, you.
The little gizmo measures your activity. It counts the number of stairs you climb each day. It keeps track of a variety of workouts, your ability to recover after a work out and tallies how many steps you take. It even sets up goals for you and congratulates you when you meet them. GOAL MET!
This is only the beginning. A tracker can monitor your heart rate, stress level, calories burned as well as quantity and quality of sleep – giving totals for light, deep and REM sleep. It also gives the number of minutes I am awake when I am awake each night. I was surprised it’s usually about three minutes and not the three hours I’d always thought.
It pairs with your smartphone to tell you the temperature outside, access your playlist and alert you to text messages and phone calls.
As a bonus, it even tells time. Like a watch used to do.
It’s also a bit bossy, telling me to “Move!” after periods of inactivity.
Plus while hopefully lessening the girth of my hips it makes me appear hip. Look at me! I am so serious about fitness I have to track my activities and workouts. (Or lack thereof, but you didn’t hear that from me.)
It was fun and novel, wearing the tracker and knowing my heart rate and number of steps I’d taken before noon. I found it impacting my behavior, which I guess is probably the point.
After supper each night, I’d check my progress and if I was low on my steps or stair climbing, I’d find myself filling the evening with either of the above. My husband was curious about my newfound evening activities, “What are you doing?”
“Got to get my steps in,” I told him.
Then last weekend, we were at the lake – floating on the boat, as calm and lazy as could be. The next day, when I checked my tracker, it showed I’d been highly-stressed the previous day.
“I guess I was stressed yesterday,” I told my husband. “Maybe I better relax.”
“How do you know you were stressed?”
“My activity tracker told me.”
He shook his head. “I think you’re relying too much on that tracker.”
He had a point. So I took it off. For a whole day. Cold turkey.
For a full 24 hours I had no idea how many steps I took or how much REM sleep I’d gotten. I didn’t know whether I was stressed or over-tired or if my heart had reached its peak rate at all that day. I was back to the dark ages, like a caveperson, with no technology to tell me to “Move!” I was free.
Still, I missed the feedback. Information is power. All those features in one little doohickey are pretty amazing. As long as you don’t let them get the best of you.
Which I don’t think I did, or at least I like to think I didn’t – at least not that much.
I could go on and on, but I better stop now. My tracker just directed me to “Move!” It’s time to get some steps in. And maybe a couple flights of stairs while I’m at it.
Don’t tell my husband. Wink.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.