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Are Activity Trackers Any Match for Slouchy Office Workers?

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Chances are, you know at least one person who’s in love with her Fitbit or Fuelband, and its calorie- and step-counting assistance — especially if you work in an office, where workers spend more time sitting than improving their health. Now, one company is offering an activity tracker that measures an additional element of fitness: good posture.

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Lumo Lift tracks steps, distance traveled, and calories consumed, but also monitors posture. Worn on the back, it tracks how much time the user spends with “strong, confident posture” by measuring the position of the shoulders, back, and chest. It also offers user-triggered coaching sessions that give feedback on your progress during set intervals. The device connects with iPhone and desktop apps to help users’ track fitness, and as is typical for most gameify-your-life apps, offers badges and awards for hitting your goals.

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But Can It Really Beat the Office Worker’s Slouch?

Olga Khazan at The Atlantic took it for a test drive, to see if technology could erase the postural side effects of writing for a living. The verdict: maybe, but you’ll have to put up with a bit of nagging in order to get there.

“With Lumo Lift, the entire ‘coaching’ experience is that of having a tiny, overbearing mother always on your person,” she writes. “During the coaching sessions, I was buzzed every second while sitting at a table and typing on a laptop. The only way to go buzz-free was to stare directly forward, as if catching a glimpse of something interesting in the distance — not something any Web writer can do for long. If I tried to ignore the buzzes, the app would turn red and display a variety of passive-aggressive admonishments: ‘Good posture makes you look and feel great! Let’s do it!’ and ‘Fight the buzz with good posture! You’ll thank me later.'”

A colleague suggested to Khazan that “the device could really ratchet up the guilt with, ‘You’d be so pretty if you only sat up straight.'”

The Effects of Bad Posture

Of course, it might be worth it. Bad posture has been linked to everything from depression to circulatory problems, and can even impact your chances at that next promotion. Body language is important whenever you’re interacting with people, and co-workers and bosses are more likely to read you as lacking in confidence and self-esteem if you’re hunched over all the time.

Finally, no matter much you improve your posture — with or without the help of an activity tracker — sitting up straight won’t be enough to improve your overall fitness. For that, you need to move.

“Your best posture is your next posture,” writes Fiona Maguire at Lumo’s blog. “In other words, the healthiest thing that you can do for your posture is to move as much as possible and avoid maintaining any static posture for an extended period of time. …the human body was built to move, not spend eight hours at a computer.”

Tell Us What You Think

How do you counteract the effects of sitting all day? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Hi:
Good article. I would like to suggest that you use Trackers that are currently being used. For example the Nike Fuelband ceased production many months ago and Fitbit’s Force was recalled in February 2014 because it injured 10,000 customers (more now) and the Flex is causing a reaction. Many, many more advanced trackers out there, for example:
1. Garmin Vivofit (battery lasts 1 year without charging!)
2. Garmin Vivosmart (more advanced than the two mentioned)
3. Striiv
4. Jawbone

Many more – check the Activity Tracker group on Facebook, there is a list of 50 some devices!

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