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More evidence that fitness trackers can boost your health

Steven Reinberg
Health Day Reporter

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Your fitness tracker, pedometer or smartwatch may inspire you to exercise more and lose weight, Australian researchers say.

In a large study review, researchers found that tracking your activity may motivate you to walk an extra 40 minutes per day ( about 1,800 extra steps). And these extra steps can lead to losing more than two pounds in five months.

“In the mainstream media, there is likely to be a lot of skepticism about wearable activity trackers, such as whether they will generate any impact, and even whether it has a negative impact, such as making people feel guilty,” said senior researcher Carol Maher. She is Professor of Population and Digital Health at the University of South Australia in Adelaide.

“Our review did not find any evidence of a negative impact from wearable activity trackers,” Maher said.

These devices are big business: Between 2014 and 2020, the number of trackers sold worldwide grew by nearly 1,500%. In 2020 alone, nearly $3 billion was spent on these products. As with any fitness equipment maker, her team found that trackers had a significant impact on how much people exercised, with lesser benefits for fitness and weight loss.

“There were also clear patterns in changes in other physiological outcomes, such as blood pressure and cholesterol,” she said. “The magnitude of the benefits is sufficient to conclude that they are meaningful from a clinical perspective.”

Fitness trackers, Maher’s team reviewed nearly 400 published studies, including about 164,000 people.

Studies show that fitness trackers not only encourage exercise and weight loss, but may also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and Blood pressure and cholesterol in people with other health conditions.

“Wearables are a low-cost, convenient tool to facilitate daily activities and achieve mild weight loss,” Maher said.

While the reported 2-pound weight loss may seem insignificant, she says it’s important to remember that these are not weight loss studies , instead focusing on research on physical activity.


“A weight loss of 2 pounds ee to 6 months, which is the typical duration of the studies included in the review, is meaningful from a population health perspective, offsetting the roughly 2 pounds we tend to see in the general population. to three years of weight gain,” Maher said.

Penn State kinesiology professor David Conroy reviewed the findings.

He said the benefits seen in this study were not only based on fitness trackers, but also on behavioral changes.

“This means that these effects may overestimate the impact of wearable activity trackers themselves on behavioral and health outcomes,” Conroy said. The study doesn’t say how long it will take or how long it will take to achieve the benefits the researchers found, he added.

“Ideally, wearable activity trackers can be a transition tool that people use to promote lasting lifestyle changes, This change does not require a long-term commitment to wearing these devices,” he said. “At this point, we know very little about the timing or persistence of the effect.”

Conroy said that currently It’s not clear how the tracking device helps users achieve beneficial results, but he offers some theories.

The tracker can provide feedback to help people monitor their progress towards their activity goals and can alert the wearer. Many people have companion mobile apps that integrate various behavior-changing technologies. These technologies can also help facilitate behavioral change, Conroy said.

“Wearable activity trackers can be used to promote physical activity, but we should be realistic about what we expect from these devices, ‘ he suggested. “Trackers are just tools – they can be an important part of an evidence-based behavior change program, but they won’t do the hard work for a person’s behavior change.”

Conroy says that increasing your physical activity still requires positive aspirations, positive meaningful incentives, and the effort to translate your best intentions into action.

“Ideally, trackers help consumers develop lifestyles that make it easier to integrate physical activity into their daily lives, But it won’t happen with trackers alone,” he said. “A durable increase in physical activity is more likely if the tracker is part of a thoughtful, evidence-based approach rooted in behavioral science.”


The study was published on July 26 Daily online publication in the journal Lancet Digital Health .

More information

Disease Control in the United States and Prevention Center has more information on fitness.

Sources: Carol Maher, PhD, Professor of Population and Digital Health, University of South Australia, Adelaide; David Conroy, PhD , Professor of Kinesiology and Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, College Park; Lancet Digital Health “, Online, July 26, 2022



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