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Fitness Trackers May Give You the Workout Blues

It turns out your fitness tracker may be a bit two-faced. New research has found that while tracking your workout may increase your exercise output, it may also make it less enjoyable. The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research and included six different trials which measured how tracking affects the enjoyment of various activities, such as walking and reading.

  • For one of the trials, researchers assigned 100 people to wear pedometers while walking and told them to check their progress if they wanted to—29% reported not checking them at all. Those who did check their pedometer walked further, but reported less enjoyment than people who didn’t check.
  • Another trial measured the number of pages 310 people read in eight minutes. It found that if the readers knew how many pages they had read at the end of the eight minutes, they were less likely to read more pages when given the option.

Researchers concluded that not only can tracking put a damper on your good time, but it can also make you lose motivation to continue the activity. But that doesn’t mean you should break up with your tracker just yet. As Jordan Etkin, the lead researcher of the study and a professor at Duke University, explained in a recent article in the Atlantic, if you’re working toward a specific goal, like losing weight or training for a marathon, keeping tabs on your progress with a tracker may help you stay motivated. But if you’re just heading out to have some fun, it might be better to leave the tracker at home.

Source: Journal of Consumer Research

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