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Is technology taking the fun out of fitness?

A study found that although measuring our activities can initially motivate us to do more, they can take the enjoyment out of the activity, causing us to do less.

Wearable tech and fitness apps trackers are not only supposed to help us track progress, but also motivate us to get moving, run faster, and walk further. But according to a new US study, tracking our activities could be having the opposite effect, and decreasing not only the amount of exercise we do, but also how much we enjoy it.

A study from Duke's University's Fuqua School of Business found that although measuring our activities can initially motivate us to do more, they can take the enjoyment out of the activity, and actually cause us to do less, even once we have stopped tracking them.

In the study Professor Jordan Etkin carried out six experiments where participants had to color, read, or walk, to measure the effects that tracking had on various activities. Etkin look at not only how much of each activity was completed, but also how much participants enjoyed it.

In the walking test, a group of 95 participants were asked to record their thoughts for a day while walking.

One group of the participants were offered a pedometer for the day to track their own steps, which all but four accepted. They were also asked to check regularly how many steps they had taken.

Participants in the other group were also given a pedometer, but were unable to see how many steps they had taken due to the display cover being taped over. They were told the reason for the pedometer was only to test how comfortable it was to wear. The researchers, however, could record the number of steps.

The results showed that from the two groups, the group that were able to track their own steps walked further than the other group, but reported enjoying it less, even though they had chosen to wear the pedometer.

In a similar version of this test, rather than ask the 100 participants to check their pedometer regularly, the team asked them only to check if they wanted to, with the majority (71%) later reporting that they had checked their steps regularly throughout the study.

The results again showed that those who checked their steps walked further, but also enjoyed it less, reporting that it felt like work and they were less happy and satisfied at the end of the day.

Commenting on the results Professor Etkin said, "In general, tracking activity can increase how much people do. But at the same time, measurement has these pernicious effects. Enjoyable activities can become almost like a job, by focusing on the outcomes of things that used to be fun."

"This doesn't mean we should stop measuring our daily activity," Etkin added, "but we need to balance that increased productivity against our underlying enjoyment. For activities people do for fun, it may be better not to know."

Article reproduced from Metro News, CA

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