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This Could Finally Be the Secret to Committing to Your Fitness Tracker

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Photo: James Porcini/Getty Images​

If you're like most people who use an activity tracker, you're loyal to your wearable. (A recent study found that 80 percent of people stuck with their device for at least six months.) But wearing a fitness tracker and actually using its data to hit activity goals are two different things. That's where a new app called Lazy Jar comes in. It motivates you to stay active by providing a little negative reinforcement. You link up the app to your Fitbit and credit card, then set a six-month goal and a commitment to a number of steps, miles, calories, or minutes each week to get there, as well as a penalty price. Any time you don't hit your weekly goal, you'll pay the fine. While losing money stinks, where it goes doesn't. Eighty percent of what you lose on Lazy Jar is donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. (A future version of the app that lets users choose from multiple charities is currently in development.)

Real talk: It's not always easy to stay committed to a fitness goal with the same fervor and drive as when you first set it, which is why New Year's resolutions tend to fizzle out around March. If you've tried wearing a fitness tracker before, but have found that your interest begins to wane after a few months, the threat of losing money (albeit for a good cause) might help. While everyone responds to motivational tactics differently, one Washington University study found that punishment can be a key incentive for exercise. While negative reinforcement involving food or exercise can generally lead to unhealthy habits or relationships, losing money is something that stings in a way that has nothing to do with your body.

Another feature that makes Lazy Jar helpful for long-term goals is its convenience factor. Unlike other similar apps, it takes activity data directly from your Fitbit, so you won't have to spend time snapping photos of yourself or typing in information to log your activity, which is the whole point of a tech tracker in the first place—it does the work for you. (Discover five more apps that will help you stay in shape.)

If you want to leverage your Fitbit to hold you accountable for your progress or lack thereof, Lazy Jar could be worth the download. (Fitbit is the only tracker Lazy Jar connects to at the moment.) Worst-case scenario, you'll help fight childhood cancer, and that sounds like a pretty good "losing" deal to us.

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