Fitbit & Apple Fitness should stop chastising people for taking rest days


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C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

It’s no secret that the fitness tracking offered by Fitbit, Samsung, Google, Apple, and the like aims to help users begin and sustain their fitness journey, rather than turning them into a sprinter or a powerlifter. In this respect, their health platforms are pretty well-designed — you’ll regularly see people claiming that their Fitbit or Apple Watch helped them lose weight or gain a little muscle.

An industry-wide flaw, however, is the absence of rest days. There’s a nudge (or outright shove) to be active every day, which is admirable on the surface but can potentially create problems — whether you’re trying to burn fat or be a competitive athlete.

Related: The best fitness trackers

Rest days are important for health

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Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

People inevitably get sick or injured, and it feels unfair to be deprived of points, rings, and other achievements for that reason, or otherwise be told that you should be doing better. A 30-minute walk can be too much to handle if you’ve come down with the flu, never mind breaking a leg.

Arguably users should be rewarded for taking the time to heal. More realistically, it would be nice to flag sick/injured days in fitness apps, so you’re not criticized for them or robbed of a streak or award. Yes, some people would inevitably use this to cheat, but they’d only be harming themselves.

It feels unfair to be deprived of points and achievements to take an important rest day.

Once you get serious about fitness, rest days are necessary for recovery and muscle growth, which is well-recognized by athletes and organizations like the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For example, I do three full-body weightlifting workouts per week, each about two hours long with as much intensity as I can handle. I need a full day of rest between each session for optimal results. Whenever I’m forced to do two days back-to-back, it inevitably means being a little sorer and more fatigued going into the second workout, which can prevent me from breaking through plateaus.

Apps like Google Fit treat rest days as sub-optimal, though, to Google’s credit, it does at least reward you for weekly goals. That…

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