Wearable Fitness Devices
The Internet of Fitness IoF (or IoT helping you get fit)
The tracking of your personal fitness has recently exploded. Fitness devices are probably the number one wearable IoT device out there. You now have the opportunity to take part in a valuable community experience by joining a connected fitness challenge. First off, connected fitness is a thing, really. The concept is quite simple: You get a device that measures what you are doing fitness wise and then share that with the world. Of course, this raises a few important questions around what you share and how you share it.
Our first consideration is the timing of the information. Timing is critical. If you share actively while you are actually working out, you present the “I am not currently at home now” risk. That is the same risk you face when “checking in” to various places on the internet. If you are at the airport now, you aren’t at home. The same is true of fitness activities. So the first thing to do is turn off the real time updates. In the end, none of us need to know when you stop by the Stop and Shop, or are getting coffee at a local coffee place.
This presents our next consideration: What do you share? The reality is that people in the beginning of a process tend to share too much information, so you have to consider what you are sharing with your various online communities. This applies to all of the information you share, not only to your fitness communities. In addition to turning off real time updates to prevent potential intruders from knowing you’re away from home, you should avoid posting vacation photos until after you return. Likewise, you should only use an out of office notice for your work email and phone, but never on your house and personal phones. The other side of what you share is the actual information. For example, posting how many steps you took yesterday isn’t bad. Posting the route you took isn’t good. Posting your blood pressure on a site you and your doctor can access is good. Posting your blood pressure to the world, not so good. In the end, as you begin gathering this information start asking yourself what I want people to know. Then it becomes easy to determine what you are going to share.
Don’t Be Discouraged
Despite the potential risks associated with oversharing, joining a fitness community can be a great source of motivation. If you are interested in comparing your progress with your friends, then posting your numbers for others to see becomes an important part of your community experience. This is especially true if you’re even slightly competitive, as knowing that others are exceeding your performance is an incredible motivator. If this describes you, then finding a safe balance for posting your data online and having other people connected to that data is key to your online community engagement. If you aren’t competitive, you can still post your data online – just don’t compare yourself to others. This sharing can still be a source of encouragement as your friends can see your personal progress and milestones over time, and you can celebrate each other’s successes.
Wearable fitness devices offer great benefits both in improving your health but also in helping you create a support community. Averaging 10,000 steps a day in the end make you healthier. Sharing that with people who care is even better. However, sharing your specific medical metrics like blood sugar levels or announcing you’re away from home are another thing altogether.
As wearable IoT continues to expand further and further into the personal fitness market it’s important to remember the initial rules: Don’t post your data real time. Your friend may cheer you on for doing that, but the burglar waiting for your home to be empty will cheer you on as well. Uploading after you are done is a great way to engage with your community and gain a great sense of accomplishment. By carefully considering what you share and how you share it, you can enjoy the health and emotional benefits of connected fitness while protecting yourself from potential threats.
By Scott Andersen