Researchers have found in the first review of its kind that clocking miles on fitness trackers, pedometers, and smart watches increases physical activity and encourages users to walk up to 40 minutes more each day, resulting in an average of one kg (2.2 lb) of weight loss over five months.
The findings from the University of South Australia (UniSA) are a systematic review of almost 400 peer-reviewed studies involving 164,000 people across the world using wearable activity trackers.
This highlighted the importance of inexpensive interventions in the rising epidemic of diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers and mental illnesses.
Lead researcher, and doctoral student said the results of the various studies that they looked at showed that activity trackers can be used for long periods and are reliable across all ages.
” They encourage people to get active on a daily basis and make it a part of their lifestyle.
While a one-kilogram weight loss might seem small, Carol Maher, UniSA professor and coauthor of the review, said these weren’t weight-loss studies but lifestyle activities studies. Therefore, dramatic weight loss was not expected.
” The average person loses about 0.5kg per year due to weight creep. Therefore, losing just one kilogram in five months can be significant especially considering that almost two-thirds (or more) of Australians are obese or overweight,” Maher stated.
Among the BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol and the waist circumference and body weight, trackers had the greatest improvement–a decrease of as much as 1.5 cm (0.6 inch)
Despite their popularity, many people are skeptical about the potential for them to lead to eating disorders and obsessive behaviors.
A US-based study from Feb. 2022 reported that people who used physical activity trackers were linked to higher levels of eating concerns and binging behaviour.
The researchers found that more research was needed in order to determine if certain aspects of the technology could be altered to minimize potential harm.
Senior lecturer at Bangor University Andrew McStay stated that wearable activity monitors are basically tracking technologies.
” The promise of wearable technology is information. It provides data about patients and consumers, as well as their health and whether or not they adhere to the prescribed treatment.” he stated.
If companies have the ability to understand private medical data about us, it may influence our decisions. However, what remains to be determined is how that data will end up.
People who want to lose weight or improve their health have many other choices, such as sitting down, taking part in walking meetings and joining a community of physical activity. As in the age of step-trackers, moving is all that matters.