Wearable Tech and Wellness Programs

Andrea Ruddy
Andrea Ruddy

Fitness trackers are the latest craze in wearable tech. I jumped on the fitness tracker bandwagon in August by purchasing a Fitbit® Flex™. I was curious… would this really impact my day-to-day life? Would this be the gentle nudge I needed to incorporate more activity in my day? Or, like with most fads, would the initial excitement fade all too quickly? 

Two months in, and I’m still very aware of my progress-to-goal each day. Even disappointed when I don’t make it. The sleep tracker also reminds me I have two young children wreaking havoc on my sleep pattern. I haven’t even started to monitor my water or caloric intake. 

Somehow this little fitness tracker has become a fierce and fashionable reminder not to give up. Potential stares me in the face each day in the form of this small, pink bracelet.

In my mind, my experience proves the intrinsic value of incentives. I want to make my goal each day—the reward being purely intrinsic (simply a feeling). My wrist vibrates at that 10,000-step mark, signaling my fitness triumph for the day. I do a happy dance (incorporating even more steps, of course), share and compare stats with friends and family, and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow. Just imagine if there was a tangible award in this whole experience!

Companies around the globe are doing just that. Wearable tech is finding its way into corporate wellness incentives and initiatives. Fitness trackers and other products designed to help people optimize their health, wellness and happiness couldn’t be hotter right now. 

But wearable tech comes with a few caveats. Fitness tracking on a smartphone or tablet can be put away, tuned out. Wearable tech is constant. It gives you more control over your body than you’ve ever had before. Calories consumed, heart rate, steps taken, how much sleep you’re getting and water you’re drinking. I admit it’s easy to be seduced—and somewhat obsessed—by its instant reads and beeping alarms. And now, your truest physical self is also visible to the virtual world in the form of data that can be copied and socialized via wearable tech.

I’m a high school volleyball coach, and I’ve seen first-hand the impact of social media and the internet on teenage girls. Self-image could easily be deflated in one single comment by a peer who has gained access to fitness data online. As a parent, this scares me silly! As a consumer, and one who works in incentives, wearable tech is a powerful way to motivate and stretch personal potential in adults. 

As more and more wearable tech becomes available, and its features and functionality evolve, people will experiment with it. As with most things, how we use and monitor our own personal information will drive the experience. 

One thing is certain, my dog is ecstatic that my Fitbit® has inspired the comeback of the daily walk!

Andrea Ruddy

Andrea Ruddy

Andrea, a Strategist at ITA Group, has been studying engagement strategy for 15 years. As a high school varsity volleyball coach, motivation is her game. We really dig her.