Fitness Trackers Might Not Motivate Exercise After All

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By Monica Andrade

When it comes to tracking down my fitness routine, I fail miserably. At first, I tried writing down all of my workouts in a notebook only to feel frustrated by my lack of organization. Then I tried recording them with a fitness app, which took too much effort in my opinion.

So when I heard about wearable technology that records your exercise for you, I thought it could really help people out with their fitness goals.

But there’s been debate for quite some time on whether or not wearable monitor devices are actually effective enough in impacting a person’s weight loss. According to a recent study published by The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, fitness trackers may not motivate people enough to substantially show a benefit in their health.

Over the span of a year, an international team of researchers tracked 800 people from Singapore ranging from the age of 21 to 65 to determine if the devices improved their overall health.

Half of the subjects wore a Fitbit Zip device while the other half acted as the control group. There were four total groups – one with no tracker, one with a Fitbit Zip and the other two with trackers, in addition to financial rewards.

During the first six months, researchers found increases in physical activity by the group that had cash incentives to participate. But after a year, that same group returned to the same amount of physical activity that was recorded in the beginning of the trial.

It seems that persuading people to exercise isn’t so easy after all, even when they are paid for it.

The researchers found that no group improved on any of the measurable health outcomes the researchers had set in place. Only 10% of people still wore the trackers at the end of the study when all incentives were dropped.

Last month, a study came out in the Journal of the American Medical Association on how those who wore fitness trackers lost less weight than those who didn’t.

According to Time, John Jakicic, the author of the September study, says the latest research corresponds with his own that found wearing a tracking device doesn’t guarantee results.

“These activity trackers really don’t engage people in strategies that really make a difference in terms of long-term lifestyle change,” Jakicic says.

So does this mean that wearable trackers are not worth investing in? Not necessarily.

The studies show that the people who buy the trackers are more likely to prioritize fitness to begin with.

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