Wearable activity monitors - do they really work?

After the Fitbit craze caught on, many people made a beeline to purchase wearable activity monitors in attempts to track health progress and weight loss.

But how effective are these devices when compared to the tools and knowledge you can get from your doctor or other resources?

Researchers from the University of Texas set out to answer precisely that question, comparing 13 of these devices and how they help motivate the wearer.

Missing aspects

After analyzing products made from companies like Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit, researchers found that while the devices held true to general health recommendations, they were lacking certain aspects when it came to helping people reach goals.

Many of these devices can now provide feedback about calories burned, heart rate, sleep quality, body temperature, and other measures. Yet when it came to tactics needed to help increase physical activity - such as action planning, clear "how-to" type of instruction, problem solving or ensuring commitment - the monitors seemed to fall incredibly short.

Devices that have more features may actually be less effective than other tools with fewer bells and whistles, the researchers said.

"This content analysis provides preliminary information as to what these devices are capable of, laying a foundation for clinical, public health and rehabilitation applications," said Elizabeth Lyons, senior author of the study. "Future studies are needed to further investigate new types of electronic activity monitors and to test their feasibility, acceptability and ultimately their public health impact."

The study is published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Source: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Photo by The Pug Father

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