Fitness trackers

Wearable fitness trackers can help weight loss efforts


If you’re starting a weight loss plan, consider wearing a fitness tracker, like a smartwatch or wristband that tracks steps, speed, and calories burned, and lets you set goals, schedule reminders, and to track your progress. A review published online March 17, 2021 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the devices helped overweight or obese people with chronic conditions (such as heart disease or diabetes) reduce body weight and lower their body mass index (BMI). The researchers pooled data from 31 studies, involving more than 2,200 people. The studies asked participants to wear a fitness tracker (many types were included) and to set and achieve weekly goals based on daily steps or walking minutes. Exercise programs that lasted at least 12 weeks were the most effective. People who wore research-grade fitness trackers (not available to the general public) lost the most weight (10 pounds), compared to people who didn’t use fitness trackers. People who wore commercially available fitness trackers (like Fitbit or Jawbone) lost an average of 6 pounds and two BMI points. Researchers say wearing a fitness tracker is a constant reminder to pursue health-related goals and be active.

Image: © lucadp/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last revision or update of all articles.

Nothing on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your physician or other qualified clinician.