Millions of individuals worldwide believe that fitness trackers, pedometers, and smart watches inspire them to move more and lose weight, according to a recent study by Australian academics.
The research’s results were released in Lancet Digital Health. Wearable activity trackers motivate us to walk up to an additional 40 minutes per day (or roughly 1800 additional steps), which results in an average 1 kg weight loss over the course of five months.
A review of nearly 400 studies involving 164,000 participants who used wearable activity trackers (WATs) to track their physical activity was conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia.
Their findings highlight the importance of low-cost therapies to combat the rising epidemic of diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and mental illness that are partly brought on by inactivity.
Although WATs are well-liked, there is considerable scepticism regarding their efficacy, accuracy, and whether they contribute to compulsive behaviours and eating disorders, but the evidence is overwhelmingly good, according to lead researcher Ty Ferguson, a UniSA PhD candidate.
Wearable activity trackers are effective across all age groups and for a considerable amount of time, according to the studies we analysed. “They urge people to exercise frequently, to include it in their routine, and to establish weight loss objectives.”
Although a 1kg weight loss may not seem like much, researchers say it is significant from the standpoint of public health.
We wouldn’t anticipate significant weight reduction because these studies focused on lifestyle physical activity rather than weight loss, according to co-author and UniSA Professor Carol Maher.
“Considering that the typical person adds 0.5 kg of weight annually and that two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, dropping 1 kg in five months is considerable.”
Wearable activity tracker shipments surged by about 1500% between 2014 and 2020, amounting to a USD 2.8 billion global market in that year.
In addition to the increased physical activity and weight loss linked to WATs, there is some evidence that fitness trackers can help persons with type 2 diabetes and other medical disorders lower their blood pressure and cholesterol.
According to Ferguson, another benefit of WATs is that they reduced depression and anxiety by promoting more physical activity.