January 28, 2015

Simply remembering to wear and recharge a fitness wearable is barrier enough to using it.     Photo: Fitbit

Wearables Won't Always Get You to Exercise More

Info presentation and engagement are key

Companies often tout the benefits of their wearable fitness technology with claims that a smartwatch or heart rate monitor can educate users about their fitness and health habits and motivate them to be more active. But a recent article by a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania says that strapping a piece of tech to your wrist and recording information doesn’t necessarily drive behavioral change.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the article states that the people most likely to use wearables are those who need them least. Mitesh Patel, the article’s author and an assistant professor of medicine and health care management at the University of Pennsylvania, cites a survey that found 48 percent of users are younger than 35 and nearly a third make more than $100,000 annually. “The individuals who might have the most to gain from these devices are likely to be older and less affluent,” Patel wrote. “To better engage these individuals, wearable devices must be more affordable, or new funding mechanisms [such as including them in employer or insurance health plans] are needed.”

Users must also remember to wear and recharge their tech. A survey of 6,223 people found that more than half of the people who buy wearables stop using them.

Patel also questions the devices’ accuracy. Devices like heart rate monitors and sleep-pattern trackers haven’t been well tested, he says. Further, once data is accurately recorded, it must be presented in an easy way to understand what motivates people to action. Right now, top performers, who are already active and motivated, are encouraged by their good results, but those who log only 1,000 steps a day become discouraged, according to Patel. Connecting users through apps like Strava could help foster competitiveness and push people further in training.

“Although wearable devices have the potential to facilitate health behavior change, this change might not be driven by these devices alone,” Patel wrote. “Instead, the successful use and potential health benefits related to these devices depend more on the design of the engagement strategies than on the features of their technology.”


The man who shot the bears asked Fish and Wildlife officials for the bodies so he could mount them on his wall as trophies.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Montana Man Fined for Shooting 3 Grizzlies

Penalized $30,000 for killing a threatened species

A Montana man has been ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution for shooting three grizzly bears, according to a January announcement from the Department of Justice.

Everett Skunkcap, of Browning, Montana, shot a 17-year-old female and her two cubs when they wandered near him and his grandchildren. He pled guilty to one count of taking a threatened species after initially claiming self-defense, the Great Falls Tribune reports. Skunkcap asked investigators if he could have the bears’ bodies back as trophies.

The 75-year-old admitted to shooting a different grizzly last year, according to the DOJ.

Montana’s grizzlies are a threatened species covered under the Endangered Species Act, but their population has rebounded to the point that authorities are considering lifting their protection.

For now, though, Montana’s grizzlies are protected, and Skunkcap will have to pay up or serve six months in jail, the DOJ says.


In Fair Chase, Bethea tests whether humans can chase down antelope on foot.     Photo: Fair Chase

'Fair Chase' to Debut at Film Festival

Examines evolution of running in humans

Writer Charles Bethea has spent the past few years examining whether a human being can hunt pronghorn antelope by chasing down the animals on foot. On Thursday, at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, he’ll release his findings in the documentary Fair Chase.

The film portrays a race in New Mexico between a band of elite marathoners—from East Africa, Canada, and the United States—and the North American pronghorn antelope.

In a 2011 article for Outside, Bethea explored the theory of persistence hunting, which postulates that humans evolved as endurance runners as a means of chasing down prey. Humans, Bethea writes, are tailor-made for this pursuit because of legs built from slow-twitch fibers and the ability to perspire.

The film, which is making its world premier, will be screened at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on Thursday and Saturday. For showtimes, click here.


Among the contents of Guanabara Bay: raw sewage, human waste, refrigerators, and animal carcasses.     Photo: Gabriel Melo/Flickr

Olympic Sailors Face Polluted Bay in Brazil

Rio officials say they will not reduce pollution

Rio de Janeiro’s new state environmental secretary, Andre Correa, told the Guardian on Wednesday that city officials will not uphold their pledge to clean the highly polluted waters in which athletes will be sailing and windsurfing in time for the Olympics.

The city’s Olympic bid, as well as the hopes of local environmental activists, hinged on the promise to reduce pollution in Guanabara Bay by 80 percent. With the games approaching, city officials have admitted that this will not be possible.

“Removing 80 percent of the pollutants? It’s not going to happen,” Correa, who took office earlier this year, told the Guardian. He added that it would cost billions of dollars to handle the task, and that the resources simply don’t exist.

Guanabara Bay, where Olympic sailing is set to take place, is notoriously polluted with raw sewage, industrial debris, and things like old couches and animal carcasses, reports SF Gate. Competing there has been an ongoing issue for nearly a year and a point of contention among athletes who fear superbacteria.

Rio 2016 organizing committee spokesperson Mario Andrade said the claim to reduce pollution by 80 percent meant increasing filtration and sewage treatment, not reducing preexisting pollution. Since 2007, when Rio launched its bid, sewage treatment has increased from 11 percent to 50 percent, Andrade said.

“As far as the Guanabara Bay is concerned, what I wanted to say here today is that everything’s on track, everything’s progressing,” Andrade told SF Gate. “There is no plan B. … There will not be any televisions floating in the sailing events.”

Correa said that a pair of eco-barriers planned to be built in river mouths would ultimately filter out 80 percent to 85 percent of pollution entering the bay, SF Gate reports.


News of the lawsuit garnered criticism on social media from competitive mountain bike racers.     Photo: Shane Wilson/Flickr

Injured Mountain Biker Drops Lawsuit Against Race Group

Filed suit after breaking spine, claiming unsafe conditions

Lisa Belair, a Portland-area woman who filed a lawsuit against the organizers of a mountain bike race in which she was injured, has dropped her $273,000 complaint without money changing hands, the Oregonian reports. The reason is unclear.

After hitting a fallen tree and breaking her spine in four places during the Dog River Super D mountain biking race on the Hood River last May, Belair filed a suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Fat Tire Farm, a bike shop in northwest Portland, and Hurricane Racing, an outfitter and racing company in Government Camp, Oregon. The claimed argued that organizers had neglected to clear fallen trees from the race course following a heavy storm, instead covering a large tree on the course with dirt. Riding over the tree on her bike, Belair said she was launched into the air, crushing the C1 vertebra in her neck and fracturing her T3, T5, and T7 vertebrae upon landing.

“She’s able to walk,” Tim Williams, Belair’s attorney, told the Oregonian after filing the suit in December. “She’s able to ride her bike. But she has a fair amount of pain, constant, and it’s not going away.”

“No one likes to see accidents happening during events,” Fat Tire Farm owner Park Chambers said in an email to the Oregonian. “Mountain bikers, race organizers, and promoters work together diligently to avoid such situations. However, all of us who ride bikes competitively have fallen before, and we know crashes are part of the activity that we love and chose as participants.”