Do Activity Trackers Encourage Physical Activity? – Medical News Bulletin

Health, Fitness & Food


In a recent study, researchers used an online survey to evaluate the benefits and behaviors individuals experienced when using fitness activity trackers.

Wearable tech has seen increased use in the past few years following the gamification of physical activity and obsessive-compulsive stat-tracking software. Popularized by companies like Fitbit and Apple, the popularity of activity trackers shows no signs of slowing down. An online survey was conducted from April to May of 2016 that sought to better understand the relationship of users and their devices concerning usage patterns, social media interactions, perceived behavioral change, and technical issues they encountered with the hardware or software.

The results of the survey, recently published in BMC Public Health, showed a total of 237 Australian survey participants were included in the final results with a mean age of 33 years. Fitbit and Garmin devices were the most commonly reported amongst those surveyed at 67.5% and 16.5%, respectively.

The most common themes for extensive activity tracker usage were to motivate users to monitor activity patterns, followed by improving fitness, and improving overall health. Most current users (81.4%) believed that wearing the activity tracker kept a focus on physical activity integration throughout the day. The majority of current and former activity tracker users reported positive interface and hardware experiences using the device. Complaints typically related to battery life, navigating the support software, and hardware weathering were common among 22%-30% of survey participants.

The results showed that wearable activity trackers are popular and well-liked. Participants primarily relied on the device for information about fitness levels as opposed to sleep or caloric intake information. The landscape of fitness tracking doesn’t seem to be reducing in scale and with obesity rates still at an all-time high, studies like this one elucidate the importance of technology as a viable avenue for health awareness and fitness campaigns.

Written by  Cooper Powers, BSc

Reference: Maher, C, Ryan, J, Ambrosi, C, Edney, S. (2017). Users’ experiences of wearable activity trackers: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 17,(880). DOI 10.1186/s12889-017-4888-1



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