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Are you a tracker?

Image of a diet tracking app reads: My Journals: Day 1: January 29: 1 banana, 1 slice whole wheat toast, 1 cup of coffee, black

This post was written by Caroline Conena. 

Keeping track of personal data has never been easier. We track our bills. We organize our appointments. And now it seems that most of us keep tabs on our health.

New findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicate that 69% of U.S. adults keep track of some aspect of their health. These “trackers” aren’t waiting for a doctor visit to see results. They are checking and recording health data on their own.

Not surprisingly, nutrition and physical activity are tracked the most. 60% of adults collect data on their weight, diet, and exercise routines. Health symptoms follow with 33% of adults tracking their blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches, or sleep patterns. 12% say they even track health information for a loved one.

Hooray for people keeping track! 21% of “trackers” choose from the hundreds of apps, devices, and websites designed to track health information quickly and simply. More people (34%) keep hand-written journals and notebooks. The rest of the “trackers” (44%) do so… only “in their heads.”

Whatever the method, “trackers” are thinking about their health. They do it for a reason — whether it’s to see patterns or to improve their health. Pew’s survey (the first of its kind) found that this type of recording has led to changes in behavior.

Since they started tracking their health:

  • 46% of trackers have changed their approach to maintaining their health or the health of a loved one.
  • 40% have asked a doctor new questions or gotten a second opinion from a different doctor.
  • 34% have been influenced on how to treat an illness or condition.

More tracking means more data. This helps patients and doctors make better decisions about personal health. Even if the results aren’t exact, the recordings are worthwhile. The best part is that tracking is only getting easier, thanks to technology. And thanks to Pew, now we can track the “trackers.”

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