Fitness trackers

Comment: We are buying more fitness trackers but exercising less

In addition, fewer adults and children walk or cycle to school or work than 25 years ago. For example, in the late 1960s, most American children between the ages of 5 and 14 rode bicycles or walked to school. Since then, this “active transportation” has largely been replaced by automobile travel. Rates of travel by school bus or public transit changed little.


So if physical activity levels have dropped at the same time as the popularity of fitness tracking has increased, what makes these gadgets useful?

Fitness trackers can help educate people about their daily physical activity. However, these devices are only part of the solution to solving the problem of sedentary lifestyles. They are facilitators, rather than drivers, of behavior change.

When a person’s physical activity decreases, it opens the door to overall reduced levels of fitness and other health problems such as obesity or diabetes. On the other hand, physical activity has a considerable positive impact on health and well-being.

The first step to increasing active movement is to measure it, which these devices can do. But successfully increasing overall physical activity requires several additional factors such as goal setting, self-monitoring, positive feedback, and social support.

Scott A Conger is associate professor of exercise physiology at Boise State University, David Bassett is professor and department head of kinesiology, recreation and sports studies at the University of Tennessee, and Lindsay Toth is assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of North Florida. This comment first appearance in The Conversation.