In today’s world where everyone is obsessing over fitness, fitness trackers, also known as health trackers, have gained enough popularity among the people striving to get themselves in shape.
With growing fast-food joints and processed foods, it is an effort to walk past them without having a bite of their tempting choices. Most people use wearable health trackers as a means to motivate themselves to reach their weight loss goals.
Before we find out how effective these wearable devices are in motivating and losing unwanted body weight, let’s examine what a fitness tracker is and how it functions.
How Do Fitness Trackers Work?
Fitness or health trackers, also known as activity trackers, are devices that monitor and track fitness-related activities like the distance covered in a run, calories consumed and/or burned, sleep quality, and others. They come in various shapes, colors, and sizes and can be worn as an accessory and does not hinder daily activities.
These trackers are fitted with sensors. However, you should be aware that no two trackers can give the same results. This is because different trackers are designed differently and may not have the same number of sensors placed in them. The more sensors your tracker has, the more accurate the data is. This is because the sensors measure your motion, that is, the acceleration, frequency, duration, intensity, and patterns of your movement. The tracker shows its readings on your smartphone or laptop that is synced with the device.
As mentioned earlier, different trackers will show different readings because even a small distraction like a bumpy car ride can mess with the accuracy of your tracker.
Do Fitness Trackers Help With Weight Loss?
Fitness trackers may have motivated many people to follow a fitness routine in their daily life. However, the extent to which these trackers have helped people in losing weight is debatable.
The results of a study that evaluated the association of pedometers (instruments that measure the distance traveled on foot by recording the steps taken) and physical activities showed that the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure. However, the study could not determine if the changes were long-term or not.1
Another study conducted by the Iowa State University (ISU) researchers reported that the fitness trackers are not always accurate. They also stated that there are companies that manufacture fancy devices that only look appealing and may have never been tested before for their accuracy.2 The researchers added that people are obsessed with making their lives easier that they believe a gadget can improve their physical activities. No doubt the fitness trackers may motivate some; however, they cannot make individuals more active than they already are unless they change their behavior and lifestyle.
Similarly, another study reported that young adults with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and less than 40 who used a wearable fitness band lost less weight than they would have by standard weight loss approaches.3 Therefore, we can conclude that wearable technology does not have an upper hand over standard weight loss approaches.
So, if you are planning to buy yourself a fancy fitness tracker with the hopes that you will reach your fitness goals faster than you would without one, then drop that thought immediately. You need to keep in mind that a fitness tracker may motivate you but will not make you more physically active. Of course, a fancy accessory is a great addition to your fitness kit, but don’t forget that it may or may not aid in weight loss.
|↑1||Bravata, Dena M., Crystal Smith-Spangler, Vandana Sundaram, Allison L. Gienger, Nancy Lin, Robyn Lewis, Christopher D. Stave, Ingram Olkin, and John R. Sirard. “Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health: a systematic review.” Jama 298, no. 19 (2007): 2296-2304.|
|↑2||ISU researchers test accuracy of fitness bands and find way to correct self-report errors. Iowa State University.|
|↑3||Jakicic, John M., Kelliann K. Davis, Renee J. Rogers, Wendy C. King, Marsha D. Marcus, Diane Helsel, Amy D. Rickman, Abdus S. Wahed, and Steven H. Belle. “Effect of wearable technology combined with a lifestyle intervention on long-term weight loss: the IDEA randomized clinical trial.” Jama 316, no. 11 (2016): 1161-1171.|