How Effective Are Activity Tracker Really?

Fitness bracelets are among the most sold wearables. Some users are simply trying to track their activities, while others are promising much more from the smart gadgets. Manufacturers of some fitness wearables even advertise a personal trainer, the goal: weight loss, active lifestyle, better health. But is it really so? The result of a recent study of “Lances Diabetes & Endocrinology”, an international medical journal, is to prove that fitness bracelets are not as effective as you would expect. However, the focus is on “Activity Tracker”, because the subjects were equipped with the Fitbit Zip – an activitystrack whose range of functions has relatively little to offer, in comparison with more expensive fitness bracelets.

For the twelve-month study, 800 participants from Singapore (ages 21 to 65 years) were divided into four groups: One group was only equipped with the Fitbit Zip, two other groups received a small incentive for the first six months In cash or for a donation), added a control group without tracker and without performance payment. In this study, the overall activity of the subjects, the weight as well as the blood pressure were investigated.

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Within the first six months, it became clear that only the participants who received an incentive wage could have an increased activity. The number of daily steps in the “cash group” averaged around 11000. Around 9,000 were in the “Donation Group” and around 8500 in the “Fitbit Group”. Payments were suspended for the next six months, and the different activity levels of the groups resumed. Only the “Fitbit” group was able to detect a slightly increased activity. Although not in the number of steps, the aerobic activity averaged 16 minutes more per week than at the beginning of the study.

For the leader of the study, the result is clear: There is absolutely no evidence that health bracelets can improve the health of the wearer. There is no evidence that the equipment could provide weight loss, better blood pressure, or more fitness. The increased activity is not significant enough. With this sobering result, it can be quickly forgotten that this study has not tested several, but only one, activity tracker. Therefore, it is at least questionable to what extent this result can be generalized.

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