So I came across this article online. It’s about the abandonment of fitness trackers; why people get them and why they stop using them. I originally bought a fitbit zip. I wore it a lot but did eventually abandon it when I got tired of replacing the battery. We bought two fitbit flexes one for my wife and mother-in-law to help motivate them to walk more. My wife wore hers for a while then stopped. My mother-in-law abandoned hers and I started using it after a while. I haven’t taken it off my wrist (well only to charge the battery). Like I said in an earlier post I use it to track my sleep but also have been tracking my steps. It has changed my behaviors and I do walk more and make a point to get out and be active.
The root cause for abandonment of these devices and fitness programs, gym memberships, et al is motivation. Having written my dissertation on motivation I know a little bit about the subject. According to Deci and Ryan, two eminent psychologists in the field, motivation is a complex thing (Self-Determination Theory). Ultimately, intrinsic motivation, which as you may know is doing something for the pure enjoyment of the activity itself, is the best bet to lead to a change in behavior. According to Drs. Deci and Ryan when we choose to do an activity, get to be good at it, and do it with others who share that same interest, we are intrinsically motivated.
All of these tracking devices are a means to an end. They are tools to help get us up and moving. Achieving my goal every day of 10,000 steps and doing so on a consistent basis may make me feel more capable of achieving that goal, but were all the activities of those steps fun? Who knows. When I achieve them spending time with my wife I can say yes. When I choose to walk with her and am good at it (Her walking dvds do have a level of coordination to them that I have gotten better at), and I love her and enjoy all my time spent with her, I am meeting those needs and I am intrinsically motivated.
Additionally, when my fitbit flex signals that I have reached my goal for the day I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little sense of accomplishment.
BTW extrinsic motivation is not a bad thing. All these exercises I am doing each day are not fun. Its not that they are not fun its just that they aren’t inherently enjoyable and I don’t see a way that they would be. However, being able to play with my daughter and do all the things I think a father should be able to do is motivation enough. Got all my sets done today as well. God Bless!