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What A Fitbit Does To Your Brain

“Our study shows that, overall, self-measurements are more problematic than beneficial … “

Fitness watches generate insecurity and anxiousness, study says

by University of Copenhagen

August 4, 2020

Medical Xpress – Is my heart beating slightly fast? Is a heart attack coming? I didn’t sleep as much as I thought I had last night—is that bad for my heart?

Health apps and fitness watches can shed considerable light on how our bodies work and make recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.

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However, self-measuring can have a downside too, according to a new study that examined the experiences of 27 heart patients who used ‘Fitbit’ fitness watches to measure their sleep, heart rates and physical activity.

Although the 28-74 year-old heart patients learned more about their illnesses and were motivated to exercise during the six months that they wore the watches, they also became more anxious, explains Tariq Osman Andersen, an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Computer Science and one of the researchers behind the study:

“Our study shows that, overall, self-measurements are more problematic than beneficial when it comes to the patient experience. Patients begin to use the information from their Fitbits just as they would use a doctor. However, they don’t get help interpreting their watch data. This makes them unnecessarily anxious, or they may learn something that is far from reality.”

Along with two other researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the company Vital Beats, Tariq Osman Andersen examined patients with cardiac arrhythmia and pacemakers through 66 qualitative interviews.

They conclude that, overall, there are two points that include both the pros and cons of using Fitbit watches:

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More information calms, but also spurs doubts. Patients have a sense that they are becoming more in tune with their overall health, but they link the information to their heart disease, for which there is no safe basis … Read more. 

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