What not to measure

Fitbit offers a metric called ‘heart score’, which is an estimate of cardio-vascular strength.

A couple of years back, my wife scored 34 on that scale, which signified that she had an ‘average’ heart score. Back then, she could run about 5-10 km at a stretch. Ever since, we trained hard, and her mileage steadily improved. Thanks to over a year of disciplined training, she finished the Berlin Marathon in September 2021.

Given that her range went from 10 km to 42.6 km, one would expect the heart score to change. Yet, it increased by a mere two points, and she remained squarely in the ‘average’ zone. It isn’t clear is if Fitbit’s heart score is accurate – it might be. Yet, what is clear is that despite all that cardio-vascular training, my wife wasn’t able to dent her score.

We live in the era of metrics. A mere strap on our wrist is able to measure our pulse, breath rate, oxygen saturation and provides us with various scores – heart score, sleep score and everything in between. All these metrics are marketed as means to take charge of our health. Yet, if we have no influence over them, are they even worth measuring?

Peter Drucker once stated, what gets measured gets managed. The corollary to that statement is do not measure that which you cannot manage.

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