Biometric Selfies: June 16, 2014

Who hasn’t snapped a quick pic of themselves? You and you’re dog, your meal, your workout, your best friend, your boyfriend. A new craze is taking selfie to the extreme - wearable fitness trackers that give you an instant snapshot of your every move.

 “I wanted to get a sense for what my actual activity was,” says Pat Pinner, who wears a fitness tracker.

Call it a biometric selfie. Pinner can monitor his number of steps, active minutes, calories burned, even sleep.  The results are eye-opening.

“Sometimes you think you know, but until you have something that can truly monitor what you’re doing and give you a true baseline, you’re just guessing.”

 “Most people think that they’re more active than they really are. And when you look at the recommendations by the Heart Association for 150 minutes of exercise per week, the majority of people in this country don’t get anywhere near that,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, the vice president of health and wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

These technology-driven devices deliver a deluge of digestible data. Question does it add up to better fitness or just extreme narcissism?

 “Some of the devices really track a lot of different metrics. I think that’s really helpful because people can see you know, am I staying on track? Do I occasionally fall off the wagon or do I fall off the wagon on most days? So I think they really are good,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Seeing it spelled out right in front of you can be its own motivation.

 “You’ll take steps instead of elevator, walk to the end of the street instead of taking the bicycle, anything that you can do to get more steps,” says Pinner.

There’s a saying ‘You can’t change what you don’t measure’ and I really think that is true,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

These biometric selfies are likely here to stay, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘watch your step.