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

Healthcare Portals: How to Decide if You Should Use One?

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Healthcare portals offer a secure and convenient way for you to access your personal health information and interact with healthcare providers. These applications can enhance your participation in your healthcare and help streamline processes such as bill pay, prescription refills, and scheduling. Healthcare portals also provide methods to share your healthcare information with loved ones.  Having access to your healthcare history online can even be beneficial when you need to have access to your healthcare history while being treated away from home. More and more healthcare providers are offering access to healthcare portals.  Like any online application there are benefits and issues to be aware of when using an online health portal.

Healthcare portals provide these advantages:

  • Convenient Access to Medical Information – Healthcare portals provide patients with the ability to access their medical records, test results, and immunization records from any location with internet access. This convenience also allows you to engage in your healthcare more fully and have better conversations with your doctor and other healthcare professionals.
  • Improved Communication – The portals facilitate better communication channels between patients and healthcare providers. Secure messaging systems within these portals allow for efficient and direct communication, potentially reducing the need for phone calls and in-person visits. Having the messaging system in the application provides increased security and protection of your healthcare information.
  • Streamlined Administrative Tasks – For healthcare providers, patient portals can automate and simplify administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and patient data management, leading to improved workflow efficiency. The system also allows you to schedule doctor visits through the healthcare provider’s calendar and to request appointments sooner due to specific issues.

Some of the issues to consider when looking to use a healthcare portal are:

  • Security Concerns – One of the primary concerns with patient portals is data security. As with any online platform, there is a risk of unauthorized access, which can lead to privacy breaches and misuse of sensitive health information. Using a unique username and password, two-factor authentication, and using your portal only on a home or protected network (using a Virtual Private Network application) can help lower the risk.
  • Technological Barriers – Not everyone is tech-savvy, and you or others in your family or community may find it challenging to navigate these portals. This can lead to underutilization of the services provided through the portal. Working with your healthcare provider, family members, and friends that are using the same portal can be beneficial for those just learning to use it. You can also search for support materials from the portal provider’s web site. 
  • Potential for Misinterpretation – Access to detailed medical records and test results without proper interpretation by a healthcare professional can sometimes lead to confusion and misinterpretation causing stress. Use the information to assist you in formulating questions to ask your healthcare professionals and avoid self-diagnosis.

Healthcare portals allow you to be a more informed and engaged patient. They offer numerous advantages that can enhance your healthcare experience and improve healthcare delivery. Nonetheless, it is crucial to think through the issues, particularly around security and accessibility, to ensure that these portals serve you and your healthcare provider effectively.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of healthcare technology, it is essential to maintain a balanced perspective on the tools we integrate into our healthcare systems. By doing so, we can harness the full potential of healthcare portals to benefit you and your healthcare providers.

Additional reading and information:

What to Know About Patient Portals (

How to Navigate Your Patient Portal and Avoid Mistakes (

Connect to care: The patient portal – Mayo Clinic Health System