— intriguing question raised by Emily Kramer-Golinkoff on Twitter. I’d love to hear if people have experiences or advice to share in the comments.
I wonder if the answer depends on how visible someone’s tracking is or whether they share their activity with their loved ones.
If you are new to the idea of self-tracking, you may want to check out the Quantified Self movement and my own contribution to understanding the phenomenon: Tracking for Health (a Pew Research report released in January 2013).
Basic findings: 7 in 10 U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or a loved one.
- 60% of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet, or exercise routine.
- 33% of U.S. adults track health indicators or symptoms, like blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches, or sleep patterns.
- 12% of U.S. adults track health indicators or symptoms for a loved one.
However, their tracking is often informal:
- 49% of trackers say they keep track of progress “in their heads.”
- 34% say they track the data on paper, like in a notebook or journal.
- 21% say they use some form of technology to track their health data, such as a spreadsheet, website, app, or device.
This question allowed multiple responses, but in sum: 50% of trackers record their notes in some organized way, such as on paper or using technology, and 44% of trackers do so only in their heads.
This is the first national survey measuring health data tracking, which has been shown in clinical studies to be a tool for improving outcomes, particularly among people trying to lose weight or manage a chronic condition:
- 46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.
- 40% of trackers say it has led them to ask a doctor new questions or to get a second opinion from another doctor.
- 34% of trackers say it has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.
What do you think? Are you aware of people in your family or social circle who self-track? If you track, do you talk about it with friends and family? What are some of the questions or reactions you’ve gotten from loved ones? Or from anyone, if your tracking is visible?