Wearable activity trackers motivate people to exercise more and lose weight, study finds

According to a new study by Australian researchers, millions of people around the world believe that fitness trackers, pedometers and smartwatches motivate them to exercise more and lose weight. The research results have been published in Lancet Digital Health.

Wearable activity trackers encourage us to walk up to 40 minutes more every day (about 1,800 extra steps), resulting in an average weight loss of 1 kg over five months.

Researchers at the University of South Australia reviewed nearly 400 studies involving 164,000 people around the world using wearable activity trackers (WATs) to monitor their physical activity.

Their findings underscore the value of low-cost interventions to combat a growing epidemic of health problems partially caused by a lack of exercise, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers and diseases. mental.

Ty Ferguson, UniSA’s senior doctoral researcher, says that despite the popularity of WATs, there is widespread skepticism about their effectiveness, accuracy, and whether they fuel obsessive behaviors and eating disorders, but the evidence are extremely positive.

“Overall results from the studies we reviewed show that wearable activity trackers are effective in all age groups and for long periods of time,” Ferguson says. “They encourage people to exercise regularly, make it part of their routine, and set goals for weight loss.”

Weight loss of 1 kg may not seem like much, but the researchers say that from a public health point of view, it is significant.

“Keeping in mind that these were not weight loss studies, but lifestyle physical activity studies, so we would not expect dramatic weight loss. “, says UniSA Professor Carol Maher, co-author of the review.

“The average person gains around 0.5kg per year in weight loss, so losing 1kg over five months is significant, especially considering that two-thirds of Australians are either overweight or obese.”

Between 2014 and 2020, the number of wearable activity trackers shipped globally increased by almost 1,500%, translating into a global expenditure of $2.8 billion (about Rs 22,500 crore) in 2020.

Besides the extra physical activity and weight loss attributed to WATs, there is evidence that fitness trackers also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. .

“The other reported benefit is that WATs improved depression and anxiety through increased physical activity,” Ferguson said.


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