Health activity tracking: Why people do it, what physical activity data tells us, what health insurers do with our data

2018-12-10T21:09:55Z (GMT) by Ben Lyall

Self-tracking, self-monitoring or ‘quantified self’ refer to all aspects concerned with personal data, its analytics and sharing with others – and self-tracking one’s health and fitness status is very popular.


Digital developments like apps and devices promise to help users facilitate and improve their self-tracking. Smart devices instantly track activities, store data and automatically analyse them to provide insights into the quantified self. From simple wrist bands that track your steps to expensive smart devices that measure your heart rate, sleep and other functionalities – users can choose among various technologies that support them in getting healthier and fitter. Looking closer at this trend raises questions:

  • Do those technologies really improve our health and fitness?
  • Why do some users seem addicted to collect as much data about their body as possible?
  • Who is using our personal data?

The panel looks at self-tracking from diverse perspectives based on recent studies to explore how this trend affects people, their health and their personal data.


The panel presents research that applies various methods like user surveys, qualitative user experience studies, physical health studies and data usage reviews to get better insights into self-tracking behaviours and its effects. It as well discusses open questions and future research approaches with researchers from the physical activity, social sciences and information science field.

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CC BY 4.0