Look around you — how many people are wearing a fitness tracker like a FitBit? One in five Americans own a wearable of some kind. And fitness trackers produce a lot of data. Lately, the value of that data has been questioned. Is wearable data useless? Do we need to expand upon what we track?
While the United States has 20% of the population using a tracker, there hasn’t been a huge improvement in the nation’s health. Individuals are rarely changing their behavior based on how many steps they are or aren’t taking. So, while we have this wealth of data, why aren’t we seeing a shift?
Data alone is never the solution. Data needs context. Data must be timely and actionable. When we view data in context and in a reasonable fashion, we can adjust the environment and outcomes. This goes for health and fitness all the way to business.
Humans have evolved to quickly understand and process info. We discard what’s not relevant or deemed to help us. In a world with more data than we could ever consume, our brains are working in overdrive. Unfortunately, this means we lose concentration generally after eight seconds. So, for us to process data, it needs to be deemed important and relevant.
With fitness, this means helping us learn how to change our behavior or putting that behavior in context. For example, being able to see that after Wednesday’s Trivia Night, we rarely work out gives us insight into our motivation. Steps and heart rate without that context doesn’t guide us. Incorporating that data with our calendars so we can see who and what motivates us (or steals that motivation) would.
And this is the insight we should keep in mind with all data points. Data becomes relevant and important when we design it in context and in a timely fashion. When you’re at work, are you presenting data in a way that separates itself out from all the other noise? If not, we can help.
*Image courtesy Vernon Chan with modification.