Fitness trackers may be setting the bar too high

Posted at 7:02 AM, Sep 23, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Many people wear fitness trackers to track their steps or keep an active lifestyle, but experts warn that the standard 10,000 step goal a day could be too much.

10,000 steps can actually be dangerous, according to Tracie Jackson, a Medical Nutrition Therapist at Nebraska Medicine. Jackson says it can set some up for problems like injuries, exhaustion or just feeling discouraged.

She thinks a fitness tracker, like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, is a good tool if someone knows how to use it correctly.

"We really have to start where people are at, and tell them don't worry about that, don't build up barriers, just start where you're at and try to add a little bit," says Jackson.

She says people should start at their own speed, whether it's getting a few hundred steps a day to a few thousand, and slowly building up a tolerance. Adding, "If somebody says I'm getting 700 steps a day, then we might want to look at upping that to 1,000 or 1,200."

Alexis Simpson, a University of Nebraska Omaha student, considers herself to be a very active person.

"On average days, even sometimes when I work out, I barely hit around 9,000 steps," says Simpson. Given that she can't reach 10,000 steps, she says that it's an unrealistic goal for the average person.

Experts point out that it's very unlikely someone working a desk job would reach that goal. Instead they recommend focusing on a different goal.

"I encourage people to walk even a little bit of the time, over their lunch hour, over their break period. I think it's not only good for fitness and getting in those steps, but for your brain," says Jackson.

People working sedentary jobs should even try to take meetings outside or walk over to meetings instead of driving if they have time.

Jackson adds, "The unfortunate thing about it is people get their information on a general level. They don't often come to professionals to personalize a fitness plan."

She says the best way to achieve a healthy lifestyle is consulting with a professional, and to realize that a fitness tracker is not one size fits all.