It always feels great to make positive steps toward improved health and fitness, and nowadays, fitness technology makes it even easier. But too much of a good thing could actually lead you down a path to less-healthy behaviors and outcomes. Here are tips for keeping your good intentions on track with three tech-related healthful habits that commonly go awry.
Following Fitness "Gurus" On Social Media and Blogs
You don’t have to look far to find popular blogs and Insta-accounts that offer advice about eating better or working out. There’s no harm in following these accounts if they motivate you to go to the gym more often or make wise food choices.
However, following self-proclaimed social gurus for detailed nutrition or fitness advice is another matter. When it comes to heeding health recommendations off the Internet or from an app, always seek out respected, credentialed professionals, dietitians and trainers.
Avoid equating photos of awesome abs or lots of social followers with a person’s credibility and knowledge. If you’ve found a guru you especially like, check their social profiles and website for evidence of their education and certifications, such as being an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. If they don’t mention qualifications, they might not have any. Of course, you can continue to enjoy their social media feeds, but don’t take their health and fitness advice too seriously.
Wearables and trackers are great for evaluating how much daily activity you get and how your workout performance is improving (or not) over time. Tracker data can be enormously helpful for staying motivated and propelling you toward your goals.
But fitness isn’t all about the numbers. While your tracker can inform you of your running speed and distance, it offers little feedback about the positive psychological benefits of exercise, such as stress relief, relaxation and even building confidence. Focusing too much on the data might detract attention from these less quantifiable benefits.
To help underscore qualities that trackers don’t pick up on, some tech experts recommend taking a tech-break every week or two. Deliberately exercise without your tracker so you can better appreciate the important mental and emotional outcomes of exercise, as well.
Nothing But HIIT Apps
Many of today’s most popular fitness apps build workouts around high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a boon for exercisers who crave challenge or need a quick, efficient way to exercise.
The HIIT trend, however, was never meant to become a daily activity. So even if you're switching up the apps you use during the week, you might still be inadvertently binging on HIIT. When done right, HIIT taxes the body in such a way that adequate recovery is necessary to avoid burnout, injury and overtraining.
ACE recommends doing HIIT workouts one or two times per week to avoid injury, so be sure to download a variety of fitness apps onto your phone or tablet. You can safely limit HIIT frequency with options that include moderate-intensity cardio, yoga and strength training.