Though they look somewhat like a cross between a wristwatch and a rubber Livestrong bracelet, fitness trackers make a statement all their own. They shout, ‘I work out’ and ‘I care about fitness’ for those who want to express their enthusiasm for physical activity to any passersby. But can they actually motivate the average couch potato to move off of the sofa and into a better lifestyle? It’s a question researchers strive to answer.
Fitness trackers — mass produced by Fitbit, Nike, and Jawbone — not only track the steps you take in a day, but your sleep cycles, caloric intake, heart rate, and more, and deliver them your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The sheer number of angles by which these devices measure fitness has some researchers convinced the devices can actually motivate the masses to meet their fitness goals.
Lisa Cadmus-Bertram at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tested Fitbits against traditional pedometers on 51 overweight, postmenopausal women. Not only did the women using the electronic fitness tracker enjoy wearing the device, but after a month in the study, their level of physical activity actually increased. Elsewhere in the US, months-long studies at Iowa State University support that retention rates of fitness trackers is remarkably high. So what’s the secret to the fitness tracker’s success?
Fitness trackers are highly interactive and provide a novel insight to human anatomy. Though not expected to gauge a person’s overall health (due to most fitness trackers’ 15 to 30 percent margin of error), they help people who never thought about physical fitness to consider how even a moderately sedentary lifestyle affects the body.
When used correctly, coupled with a proper diet and splash of motivation, the devices are proving their worth so far. This latest fitness trend could be more than just a fad.
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