With the migration of exercise from gyms to living rooms in 2020, it comes as no surprise that the sale of fitness gadgets and technology has skyrocketed. The pandemic brought upon a new revolution of home fitness including smart home gym equipment, fitness trackers, live streamed classes and many, many more!

In particular, fitness trackers have exploded in popularity as companies including Fitbit, Garmin and Apple looked to capitalise on the sudden rise of home fitness. In fact, it’s estimated that the fitness tracker industry will be worth more than $63 billion by 2027!

What are fitness trackers?

Fitness trackers are wearable devices which measure and monitor your movement and activity, with some also keeping track of your behavioural and psychological patterns. In today’s market, trackers also allow you to perform basic functions of a mobile phone including messaging and picking up calls. But as the wearables market has become saturated with every type of product possible, it can be seriously overwhelming deciding if you firstly, need one at all and secondly, which one to get.

So, are these gadgets worth your money? Will they actually help you be more active? In today’s feature article, we’re here to tell you whether they’re worth it or if you might just be wasting your money.

Why are fitness trackers so popular?

Since Fitbit introduced their first device in 2009, fitness trackers have taken over by storm. These handy devices are no longer just limited to the population that exercises, they now provide useful statistics and data to any person of the general population. At some point it seemed every second person you saw on the street sported a small device around their wrist or clipped to their belt.

The main incentive of these trackers is the motivation they provide to be more active. How often has someone wearing a fitness tracker told you that they walked 15 000 steps or burned 400 calories that day? The more manufacturers can do to increase user motivation, the more likely consumers are to keep buying and wearing them. Fitness trackers in 2021 are comfortable, slim, waterproof and synced directly to our mobile phones. They tailor to your individual behavioural habits and patterns without you noticing. Fitbit allows users to set weight loss and cardiovascular goals and Garmin reminds you when you’re moving less than normal.

But before you go to Rebel or Amazon to buy the Apple Watch Series 6 or the Fitbit Charge 4, do these super-powered fitness trackers actually help you be more fit or healthy? 

Do fitness trackers actually help you be more active?

Sure, knowing how many calories you burnt today, or how many hours of deep sleep you got last night, or even when your heart rate peaked in your last workout can be interesting, but none of these statistics sell the purpose of fitness trackers. We buy fitness trackers for motivation to be more active, to see results and progress from exercise and receive comprehensive overviews of our health.

Unfortunately, studies investigating the effectivity of fitness trackers have shown mixed results. A study by the American Journal of Public Medicine (AJPM) in 2015 revealed that a group of women using trackers over a period of time increased their level of exercise by more than twice of what they were doing previously whilst the control group that didn’t use trackers had no increase in exercise.  However, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology’s study in 2014 on 800 random individuals found that a tracker had no effect on health and fitness after a whole year of use – even with a financial incentive.

So far, there is no concrete evidence that supports fitness trackers as being effective or even useful at all in improving physical activity and health. 

Our conclusion?

The effectiveness of fitness trackers is dependent on the individual, but we can make a couple of recommendations:

If you’re an athlete or regular exerciser looking to track your progress or a little extra kick, then go for it!  Those metrics and alerts will undoubtedly give you that boost.

If you don’t currently exercise and are hoping that an exercise tracker can get you moving, maybe visit us at Leap first!  Because there’s a lot more to exercise motivation than simply a heart-rate or calorie measure.  These may get you off the couch, but it’s things like guidance, enjoyment, and a purpose that’ll keep you moving.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on how to use the metrics to build insights about your health, and achieve your health goals!

 

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