They’re the fit tech buzzword of the last twenty-four months – but do activity trackers actually work? And by do they work, what we really mean is do they help you lose weight and hit your fitness goals? That’s todays question as we dive deeper into the hype to reveal some truths.
One things for sure; you’re not short of choice in this space. At even the most modest of market scans, you’ll quickly see that there’s at least a dozen trackers on the market – and these are merely the ‘big names’ with the big marketing budgets. From Fitbit to Nike, taking in a host of Kickstarter backed projects along the way, everybody from the big beasts of technology right the way through to the as yet unheard of tech co are in on this game. But do any of these devices really work? Studies show that the answer is yes, although it’s not quite that clear-cut.
Lets take a deeper dive on pedometers, the forbearer to the fitness band. Jeanne Johnston ran a study out of Indiana University investigating whether pedometers actually help people to lose weight. The research was conclusive, showing that people wearing this type of kit walked an average of 16% more (versus their behaviour before owning the device) and as a result they lost an average of 2.5 pounds in bodyfat. The rapid and easily digestible feedback loop offered by the new craze of fitness bands amplifiers the potency of this effect. With companion apps and LCD screens, trackers provide a series of prompts to further encourage good behaviour. This is a big step forward from a simple step count.
Whats more, the new breed of activity trackers combine seamlessly with other new ‘smart technology, such as smart scales to manage your bodyfat, blood pressure monitors to measure your improving fitness and companion apps to document all of these changes. This is a holistic, synergised approach which visually shows you the improvements that you make. This vital and often undervalued feedback loop is a great way to push people forwards and to encourage longer-term results. All to often, new starters quit before they visually see results from their new lifestyle changes. This is one sure way to negate that, and it perfectly illustrates the true value of this technology.
Any serious trainer knows that seeing results in your physical appearance and wellbeing is a combination of diet and exercise. Its an oft-argued point in fitness mags about the various importance of each and how the ratio lands, but to keep things simple, its safe to assume that diet and exercise are at least as important as each other. Old sayings like ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’ are hard to contest. This, once again, is where the activity tracker can work for you. There are a whole plethora of diet tracking apps in the market, which help you make smarter food choices. By hooking these up to your fitness band, as well as smart scales to measure the impact, its easy to nail both sides of the fitness coin concurrently. When you do that, it becomes inevitable that your technology will help you to lose weight.
Goal setting is also key. Want to improve? well, you sure best set some goals. Goal setting lets you set ever greater targets, which ensures progression. Fitness improvements come from doing progressively more or progressively harder (intensity) exercise. Combining scientific lead goal setting with accurate measurement ensures that not only do you set achievable goals which will deliver, butt hat you will also hit those targets. Again, this acts as another encourager for anybody looking for results.
So Activity trackers really do work. Why do they work? Because they help the wearer to adopt healthier life choices through education, subtle incentives and social benchmarking. They start by informing – informing you about your current activity status and informing you about making wiser choices. They then move on to encouraging – encouraging you to do more and make better choices. they then measure the impact of these new choices in detail, which ensures consistency and attribution. Considering all of this, how can activity trackers not work?