Fitness Trackers: The Trend Helping to Increase Physical Activity
Fitness trackers are becoming an increasingly popular product of the digital age. Strapped to your wrist, shoe or clothes, they provide you with a selection of data which helps you to determine how much beneficial exercise you’re getting – how many steps you’re taking, how many calories you’ve burned, how fast your heart is beating, and so on. There is little scientific data to show how much they actually effect the health of individuals, but one of the most recent studies on fitness trackers suggests they are having an impact.
In a clinical trial conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers analysed the effects of the devices on overweight middle-aged and older women. They found that women who used a Fitbit – a gadget which tracks both your activity and your sleep – typically got an hour of additional exercise a week compared to women who didn’t. The same improvement was not seen in women who were given pedometers.
This particular study only included affluent white women with an average age of 60, which means the results are not necessarily applicable to the wider population. However, the research does provide some evidence that fitness trackers can help a number of people to increase their physical activity and, in doing so, improve their health. Experts agree that setting goals and being reminded of those goals can play a key role in improving your fitness, and wearable devices can help you to stay more aware of your aims and how much you need to do to achieve them. The satisfaction of seeing your goals set and reached on such gadgets gives many people the encouragement they need to stick with a healthy exercise regime.
Dr Daniel Neides of the Cleveland Clinic says that a Pebble+ fitness tracker helped him to get in the best shape of his life. The clinic started offering the devices to employees in 2013 in a program intended to reduce medication costs, emergency room visits, hospitalisations and sick days, and Dr Neides says the program has been successful.
“Human nature indicates that for a lot of us, we just need a gentle nudge in the right direction,” he says. “I look at it like a report card. I have a goal. I want to get an A. For me, getting an A is hitting 10,000 steps every single day.”