Fitness trackers

Fitness Trackers: These Apps Can Help You Take More Steps

According to the study.

Using fitness apps increased daily physical activity by an equivalent of 1,235 steps per day and moderate and vigorous physical activity by 48.5 minutes per week, research shows. The impact on sedentary time was insignificant, according to the study.

“People who use activity monitors and wearables are more active than others,” said Rasmus Tolstrup Larsen, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s public health department.

“These effects are highly relevant in terms of health and disease risk, especially in people who are only moderately active or who do not meet current physical activity guidelines,” he said. E-mail. Larsen is also a management consultant at IQVIA Healthcare.

The effectiveness of fitness trackers has been a frequently studied question since they hit the market, but this study is the most comprehensive to date, Larsen said.

And it comes as many people seek to get back on the move during a pandemic that has created conditions encouraging more sedentary behavior.

“In a post-covid period, the need to focus on behavior change with respect to physical activity and inactivity is more urgent than ever,” Larsen said via email. “Modern physical activity monitors (wearables, smartwatches, or fitness trackers) have the potential to be used as facilitators for behavior change, providing direct activity feedback to the user.”

While the study is “cautious and helpful,” it raises other questions, said Dr. David Asch, a professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation. . He said he would also have liked to see an analysis of how the different trials examined by the study used rewards and incentives.

Using a fitness tracker can increase exercise and daily activity, the study found.

How to best use them

If you’re hoping for 2022 to be a busier year than previous ones, Larsen recommended looking for a monitoring device — or using those available on your smartphone.

“The devices are cheap, simple and innovative. We can now safely say that they effectively motivate people to do more activities safely,” Larsen added.

But an activity tracker alone may not be your best bet for success, says Dr Mitesh Patel, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and vice president for clinical transformation at Ascension, a private healthcare system.

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“Changing behavior is always difficult,” said Patel, who was not involved in the study. “Using an activity tracker, such as those available in smartphones and other devices, can be an important part of efforts to increase physical activity.”

Other research in the field suggests they work even better when combined with programs aimed at behavior modification, such as adding elements that make behavior more game-like or taking advantage of incentives. financial or social, Patel said.

What these tracking apps add is a level of personal accountability, said Dana Santas, CNN fitness contributor and mind-body coach for professional athletes.

It doesn’t even have to be electronic, she added. The use of a notebook or any physical reminder tends to embody our awareness.

And a little competition with yourself never hurts, Santas said.

“When my Apple Watch sends me a message saying ‘you can still do this’, it motivates me to do whatever my watch tells me I haven’t done yet, like hitting 10,000 steps or spending more time stand up,” said Santa Claus.

Setting goals, adding incentives and adding some accountability with physical activity tracking may be what it takes to get you moving again, experts agreed.