Erica Twigt

Do you too want to know how well you trained? Is the good feeling that you get after a work-out no longer enough? Do the statistics that friends share on Facebook after running or cycling make you curious about the impact of your own performance? Do you ask yourself, “How many kilometres have I actually walked today? Was I faster than last week, or faster than they were?” Of course, seeing your training results can be a huge incentive in keeping to your weekly work-out programme. Isn't that motivation enough? And can’t you also share your results on social media and fish for compliments and encouragement?

Sports apps like Endomondo and Strava, and sports wearables like the Fitbit, not only give you a full view of your work-out, but are sometimes so comprehensive that you feel you've got an insight into your health. All of them show the distance covered, the calories burnt and your heart rate. A Fitbit even shows how you slept. You can also add your drinking pattern and changes in weight. It gives you a sense of controlling your own health. But how long will it be before the government, businesses or your employer lay claim to these insights? And how bad is that?

When it comes to insurance, we can already see companies tempting people to provide an insight into their behaviour and promising to reward them for 'good behaviour'. For a few years now, there have been a number of insurers who take driving behaviour into account when setting car insurance premiums. A dongle is attached under the dashboard, which keeps track of four things: speed in corners, braking behaviour, speed of acceleration, and breaking the speed limit. Those who drive well can get up to a 35 per cent discount on their premium. It sounds like 'easy money' (70% of customers of the Royal Dutch Touring Club, the ANWB, qualify for the highest discount), but we are also giving commercial companies a lot of power. The ANWB has stated that it does not shy away from applying measures when drivers consistently show bad driving behaviour. For example, a driver who has driven 50 kilometres too fast is immediately suspended, even if they have not received a ticket. Perhaps, in the future, drivers like that will end up on a black list and will not be able to take out car insurance at all.

But let's return to the fitness trackers and sports wearables. What if your health insurer asks to see these data and uses them to decide whether or not to reimburse certain medical treatments? Or uses them to determine how long you will be on a waiting list for treatment? Or what if your employer requires you to wear a Fitbit to reduce absenteeism? Personally, I don't expect this sort of Big Brother situation. But who knows? Maybe soon there will be a concept in which the insight that these data provide will give me a feeling of contributing to my or someone else's happiness. For the moment, I'm using my Fitbit mainly for my own motivation. What about you?

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