- Fitbit has recalled its older Ionic smartwatches due to a potential burn hazard.
- Experts say the newer models as well as other smartwatches are generally safe to wear.
- Experts say there are some general safety tips to follow with wearable tech devices, including keeping them out of the sun while recharging and removing the device if you feel it overheating.
- They add there are ways, like pen and paper, of keeping track of your fitness routines without using a tech device.
Fitbit is voluntarily recalling around 1 million lithium-ion battery smartwatches in the United States for potential overheating and burn hazards.
Another 700,000 watches have been recalled worldwide.
Fitbit discontinued production of the Ionic smartwatch in 2020, but these smartwatches were being sold at Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Target, on Amazon and Fitbit.com from Sept. 2017 through Dec. 2021.
Experts note that wearable smart devices like Fitbits you can purchase today are generally safe to wear while exercising.
Dr. Michael Tiso, a sports medicine physician at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline that the recent reports of overheating in some devices are still rare occurrences.
Every device — especially wearable ones — comes with safety instructions, and smartwatches are no expectation.
Tiso offers the following safety tips for people who use wearable smart devices.
- While charging: To prevent potential for overheating, keep out of direct sunlight.
- While wearing: If you do feel your device overheating, remove it immediately, and report the issue to the manufacturer.
- While exercising: Tiso says to try to avoid the device distracting you from your surroundings, like checking your watch and tripping over a curb while running.
Amber Kivett, a certified athletic trainer, provides additional practical tips to consider when wearing these types of devices.
Kivett recommends making sure your device software is updated regularly for changes in algorithms as well as selecting a device that fits your body according to the instructions provided.
She adds you should always follow the guidelines or directions from your physician or healthcare professional, even if they are different from what your wearable tracker recommends.
“For instance, if your doctor suggests that you get a certain amount of sleep, but your tracker says otherwise, make sure and follow your doctor’s orders,” Kivett told Healthline.
“The scientists who create the trackers are using specific algorithms that may work for a greater percentage of the population, but they don’t work for everyone,” she noted.
While smart devices can help you keep track of your workouts, running routes, and total minutes of activity per day, they aren’t the only way to log your exercise and fitness routine.
“It wasn’t too long ago when you would see people at the gym with small notebooks to keep track of workouts,” Tiso said. “Pen and paper is still an option and can be a nice break from devices sometimes.”
Kivett recommends a similar approach, saying that you can keep track of your workouts in a journal along with your food diary. She also suggests taking body composition measurements to gauge your progress and celebrate your efforts.
“It is also important to keep in mind the reasons why you are tracking workouts — whether to gain strength, lose weight, or become healthier overall — and consider if the metrics you are tracking are helping to reach your goals,” said Tiso.
“Although wearables are great from a data analytics perspective, never lose sense of what you are actually doing for your workout and stay mentally engaged in the workout, rather than obsessing over the data from the wearable,” added Kivett.