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Fitness, Technology, and Tracking Workouts

By Casey Thaler, B.A., NASM-CPT, FNS
July 22, 2015
Fitness, Technology, and Tracking Workouts image

One thing our Paleolithic ancestors certainly weren’t doing is tracking workout metrics via electronic devices. Yet in our modern world, this practice has become increasingly common.1 No doubt, ‘fitness tracking’ has become one of the biggest trends in the world, in the last 12 months.2 In fact, as millions of Americans are tracking workouts daily, this data is constantly being compiled and analyzed.3 Two of the biggest tracking companies, MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness, recently published data4 revealing California, Colorado, and Washington as the three states in the U.S. with the most active populations. This analysis was based upon the length, frequency and type of exercise tracked.

So those states finished first – but which states came in last? That dubious distinction goes to North Dakota, South Carolina, and Delaware. In fact, of the 65 million users tracked by MyFitnessPal, 7 of the top 10 most active states were from the west coast. Does this come as a surprise? It certainly did to me!

MapMyFitness also helped to combine their data set with that of MyFitnessPal, where diet and sleep metrics were recorded and analyzed as well. Interestingly their data showed more than 45% of workouts performed in Texas, are running-based activities. This is more than in any other state! Unsurprisingly, walking was found to be the most popular activity, with California leading in this category pastime. 40% of participants claimed walking to be their favorite form of exercise.

One of the best benefits of tracking all this data? It holds us more accountable – a vastly needed advantage in our overly sedentary world.5,6,7,8,9 The “creepy factor” where everything you do is tracked, recorded, and analyzed by a company, is definitely present.10 But, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, are overweight, or training for an athletic competition, following your activity, diet and sleep via one of these apps could very well help to save your life.11

In fact, as someone who has worked with a wide variety of clients, I can tell you first hand most are unaware of just how bad their lifestyle habits have become. And awareness is one of the first steps in improving your fitness, health and lifestyle!

We are at an interesting crossroads in human history. We are more overweight and unhealthy than ever before, and yet we have more options than ever available, to help us fix this problem! Meanwhile, we continue a constant debate between privacy and data tracking, the likes of which has never before been seen, in our culture.12,13,14,15,16,17

What is the Paleo perspective on all these issues? Certainly our ancestors had no central organization(s) tracking all the world’s movements, sleep patterns, and diet. But would this have been a welcome advancement, if the possibility existed? We cannot know the answer, but wonder what our Paleolithic ancestors would think. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of privacy, data tracking and health, there is no debate that we are certainly living at an increasingly interesting time in human history and need to focus upon achieving optimal health and wellness.


[1] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[2] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[3] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[4] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[5] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[6] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[7] Roth J, Qiang X, Marbán SL, Redelt H, Lowell BC. The obesity pandemic: where have we been and where are we going?. Obes Res. 2004;12 Suppl 2:88S-101S.

[8] Owen N, Healy GN, Matthews CE, Dunstan DW. Too much sitting: the population health science of sedentary behavior. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010;38(3):105-13.

[9] Owen N, Sparling PB, Healy GN, Dunstan DW, Matthews CE. Sedentary behavior: emerging evidence for a new health risk. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010;85(12):1138-41.

[10] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[11] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[12] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[13] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[14] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[15] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[16] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

[17] Available at: // Accessed July 15, 2015.

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