Best Practices to Use Fitness Apps and Trackers Securely

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Fitness apps and trackers are becoming more popular as people seek to improve their health and wellness. These devices can monitor various body metrics, such as heart rate, sleep quality, calories burned, and steps taken. They can also provide personalized feedback, coaching, and motivation to help users achieve their fitness goals.

However, fitness apps and trackers also pose some security risks that users should be aware of. These devices collect and store sensitive personal data, such as location, biometrics, health conditions, and habits. This data can be valuable for hackers, advertisers, insurers, employers, or other third parties who may want to access it for malicious or commercial purposes. 

If this data is compromised, leaked, or misused, it can have serious consequences for users’ privacy, safety, identity, reputation, or finances. For example, hackers could use location data to track users’ movements, stalk them, or rob their homes. Advertisers could use health data to target users with personalized ads or offers based on their conditions or behaviors. Insurers or employers could use fitness data to assess users’ risk profiles or performance and adjust their premiums or salaries accordingly.

Therefore, it is essential for fitness app and tracker users to take some precautions to protect their data and devices from unauthorized access or exposure. Here are some best practices to securely use fitness apps and trackers:

  • Choose a reputable brand: When buying a fitness app or tracker, it is advisable to choose a well-known and trusted brand that has a good reputation for security and privacy. A reputable brand is more likely to design secure devices, update them regularly, fix vulnerabilities promptly, and notify users of any breaches or incidents. A lesser-known brand may offer cheaper or more attractive features, but it may also have weaker security measures, less accountability, or more hidden risks. You can review the different fitness trackers from articles at PC Magazine and CNET.
  • Read the privacy policy: Before using a fitness app or tracker, it is important to read and understand its privacy policy. The privacy policy should explain what data the app or tracker collects, how it uses it, with whom it shares it, how long it retains it, and how it protects it. The privacy policy should also inform users of their rights and choices regarding their data, such as opting out of certain features or deleting their accounts. Users should avoid apps or trackers that have vague, unclear, or invasive privacy policies.
  • Adjust the settings: Most fitness apps and trackers have settings that allow users to customize their preferences and control their data sharing. Users should review these settings carefully and adjust them according to their needs and comfort levels. For example, users can disable location tracking when not needed, limit the access of third-party apps or services to their data, enable notifications or alerts for suspicious activities, and revoke permissions for unused features.
  • Secure the account: Users should also secure their accounts by using strong passwords that they don’t use with other accounts and enabling two-factor authentication for the associated app. They should also avoid sharing their credentials with anyone else or logging in from untrusted devices or networks. Users should also monitor their accounts regularly and report any unusual or unauthorized activities.
  • Update the device: Users should keep their devices updated with the latest software and firmware versions. These updates often contain security patches that fix bugs or vulnerabilities that could expose users’ data or devices to hackers. Users should also install antivirus software on their smartphones if they use them to sync with their fitness apps or trackers.
  • Be careful with social media: Some fitness apps and trackers have social media features that allow users to share their progress, achievements, or challenges with other users or friends. While these features can be fun and motivating, they can also expose users’ data or location to strangers or unwanted audiences. Users should be careful with what they share on social media and who they share it with. They should also check the privacy settings of their social media accounts and limit the visibility of their posts.

By following these practices, fitness app and tracker users can enjoy the benefits of these devices while minimizing the risks of compromising their data or devices.

Additional reading and Information:

The biggest risks of using fitness trackers to monitor health (

Unwrapping the Safety of Fitness Trackers: A Comprehensive Guide | by Lifestyle, Decor & Travel Insights | Medium

How to make sure your fitness trackers are secure – The Verge

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Consultant for Broadband Initiatives, University of Missouri System Office of Engagement. Former Extension Regional Director in NW Missouri. Twenty years in the Information Technology field in Missouri and Kansas.