Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why You Aren't Using Your Fitbit Anymore

It's 7am.  Do you know where your Fitbit is today?

Sadly, an estimated 30% of  all fitness trackers are ending up in a drawer, on a table, or in a box.  They are the misfits; the rejected; the once "cool gadget" that has now fallen by the wayside; the gadget that was supposed to be the answer to all your prayers; the gadget that was going to help you exercise consistently, lose weight, and be accountable - once and for all.

Too bad, too; because activity trackers CAN make a difference. The ugly truth is, however, that fitness trackers are failing to engage.

  • In 2013, 10% of individuals owned a fitness tracker.  

  • By 2013, it was estimated that 50% of people who purchased activity trackers, stopped using them.

  • By 2014, 30% of individuals who owned/purchased an activity tracker, stopped using it within 6 months.

We are finding out that users quickly abandon wearables that don’t help them make positive changes.  Yet, this multimillion dollar industry is continuing to move forward.  The wearable is here to stay.  Everyone is behind it: doctors, insurance companies, and employers all have skin in the game.  Even individuals, who are recognizing that the ultimate responsibility for their health lies within themselves, are behind the wearable movement.  The wearable is just going through some "re-design" issues that will, hopefully, address the lack of long-term engagement. 

The key is to help the user change their habits.  Are you ready to change?

Changing habits is a process and the truth is that individual's must be ready to change. The Six Stages of Behavioral Change (called the Trans Theoretical Model) include pre-contemplation, contemplation, commitment, preparation, action, and maintenance. Studies have shown that wearable devices will not sufficiently motivate individuals who are in the first or second stage.  However, individuals who are "already there", in the  commitment and/or preparation stages, may be motivated to use the device.  (For more information on the 6 stages of change - please read this short excerpt from my book, Living 365fitt.) Are you ready to change?  (Take this short quiz here.) 

Building a Better Wearable

The criteria for success for many wearable devices and services goes beyond adoption. A successful wearable must engage long-term.  Devices that just provide data (steps, calories, distance), but don't inspire action will not last.  Which means that simple wrist monitors (i.e. early versions of Fitbit and Jawbone) simply aren't good enough anymore.  
If we want a certain behavior to change, we need to "interrupt" the old behavior.  Bring on the next generation of wearables; the SMART ACTIVITY TRACKER.

Studies show sales of SMART wearable devices continuing to grow.  This next round of devices not only provide data, but, provide the necessary feedback throughout the day to change behaviors.  This feedback comes in the form of visual reminders, notifications, sounds, and vibrations.  They key to success is providing interaction throughout the day to provide the user with opportunity to change behavior (i.e. get more steps, get better sleep). Devices that provide data, but don't inspire action won't last. Inspiring action is key to long term wearable utilization.

Focus on Wellness

People are hardwired want to feel better.  It's part of a complex chemical reaction within our bodies.  When we feel better, we want "more of it".  This is called intrinsic motivation, and, is the most effective form of "reward".  Successful devices must tap into the intrinsic motivation, and, therefore, positively impact users' health and happiness.  Imagine sitting at your desk, seeing your Garmin Vivosmart HR heart rate drop, and know that you're positively managing your stress, thus, positively affecting your health.   In fact, studies have shown that a majority of wearable users, are using their devices to focus on overall wellness and the enhancement of daily life, and are not just using their device to track exercise and/or lose weight.

Finally, it should be noted, that SMART wearables must focus on not only the constant connection, but the social connection as well.  SMART wearables, either wirelessly through bluetooth connection or through wired connection (USB), connect to a software platform, or app, on a smartphone or desktop computer, where a whole community of users can share information, motivate each other, and provide support.  It is anticipated that by 2020, there will be more than 6 billion smart phone users in the world, up from 2 billion in 2016.  With so many people connected to their phones, SMART wearables and health tracking, driven by the medical and insurance communities, and supported by employers and individuals, will only continue to grow and become the norm, in a health-conscious world.

- but only if it's worn!!!

Living 365fitt,

Credit given for statistics and graphs to Endeavour Partners. For more information on the adoption of wearables, visit

Kathy Kent is a nationally acclaimed speaker on women's health and fitness issues.  Her company, 365fitt, provides consulting and training services to corporations, communities and individuals seeking a healthier lifestyle.  Her book, Living 365fitt, A 12-Week Program to Lifestyle Wellness, and accompanying webinars, provide sound information on physical, nutritional and emotional lifestyle changes for better fitness.  
Contact Kathy for more information at  


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