More Evidence Fitness Trackers Can Boost Your Health

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

In a large research review, the investigators found that tracking your activity might inspire you to walk up to 40 minutes more a day (about 1,800 more steps). And those extra steps could translate to the loss of more than two pounds over five months.

“In the mainstream media, there can be a lot of skepticism about wearable activity trackers, such as whether they make any difference and whether they even have negative impacts, such as making people feel guilty,” said senior researcher Carol Maher. She is a professor of population and digital health at the University of South Australia, in Adelaide.

“Our review didn’t find any evidence of negative impacts from wearable activity trackers,” Maher said.

The devices are big business: Between 2014 and 2020, the number of trackers sold worldwide rose nearly 1,500%. In 2020 alone, nearly $3 billion was spent on these products.

In the new study, which Maher stressed wasn’t paid for by any makers of fitness devices, her team found trackers have a significant effect on how much people exercise, and a smaller benefit for fitness and weight loss.

“There were also clear patterns for change in other physiological outcomes, such as blood pressure and cholesterol,” she said. “The size of the benefits was enough to conclude that they are meaningful from a clinical perspective.”

To determine the value of fitness trackers, Maher’s team reviewed nearly 400 published studies, which included about 164,000 people.

The studies showed that fitness trackers not only encourage exercise and weight loss, but may also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.

“Wearables are a low-cost, convenient tool for boosting your daily activity and achieving mild weight loss,” Maher said.

While the 2-pound weight loss reported might seem insignificant, she said it’s important to remember that these were not weight loss studies, but ones focused on physical activity.

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