Why do we do the things we do?

During the pandemic, I decided health and wellness would help me feel some normalcy and like many Americans, I acquiesced to exercise. However, I soon realized that exercising was great but tracking my health and wellness was even better. Enter Fitbit! While I choose the device specific for its features and simplicity, I relished in its ability to not take calls and a momentary reprieve from digital content. While I used the app for a bit without social connections, it was not long before I accepted or added friends so we could share in our accomplishments but also competing to see who could take the most steps in a week.

Until a few weeks ago, I have been “competing” with friends on who could take the most steps in a week. On days I was particularly close to 10,000 steps, I would finish my last 1,000 or so steps walking circles in my house. Mostly every week, I was at the lowest ranking of weekly steps and 10-15 thousand from the leader. It was honestly disheartening to rate low most of the time but that changed when I saw an article in my Apple News feed that made me stop and click the link. Most often, I scan the app looking at headlines for the day and clicking on puff pieces to take my mind off the heaviness of current events. On this day, I was taken to a news article that really made me think why am I doing this to myself? The specific piece questioned the validity of 10,000 steps a day for optimal health impact and argued the number was rooted as a marketing ploy.

While I stumbled upon this article and the recent revelation of the “marketing accident,” it made me realize how many other things do I do because there is a notation of advice or data encouraging participation. The psychology behind it all is quite interesting and infuriating. Can we change it? Maybe or not. The larger point is to get curious about certain things and learn more for ourselves.

PS. Bell Library has some fantastic resources and people that can help you find answers to these questions and more. Ask Us!

Risha Dulip

Finance, Planning, and Assessment Manager, Office of the Dean of Libraries

References

Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health?

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