What an exciting day! You want to lose those extra pounds, so you just bought a shiny new fitness tracker to help. You read the reviews and picked the right one. The tracker is gonna be the difference.
But… It turns out that the fitness tracker (also called an activity tracker) may not be the magic solution. This, in spite of its nifty features such as step counting, movement tracking and maybe even heart rate and sleep monitoring.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh wanted to know how fitness trackers affect weight loss. So they recruited 500 volunteers who were overweight. The volunteers would be part of the effort to collect facts about trackers and weight loss. The volunteers ranged in age from 18 to 35. This age group would likely have a smaller learning curve for using the tracker technology.
At the start of the two-year study, the volunteers participated in a weigh in and fitness assessment.
For the first six months of the study, the volunteers:
After six months, there was a second weigh in. All the volunteers had lost weight.
Then they started the actual experiment!
The volunteers were divided into two groups.
Counselors checked in with the volunteers occasionally via the phone or texts. The counselors encouraged all participants in their weight loss efforts.
18 months later, the participants returned to the lab to repeat the measurements taken at the very beginning of the experiment.
Most volunteers had lost weight since the study’s initial weigh in. However, many had regained weight since the second weigh in.
What caused the unexpected difference? The study’s lead author, Dr. John Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh, has some theories. It could be that when tracker wearers felt they would come up short of their daily exercise goals, they may have lost motivation and become less active, which would affect weight loss.
Another possibility would be that the tracker group was more inclined to exercise. Extra exercise may have prompted an increased appetite. Eating more would affect weight loss.
Can trackers help you? Dr. Jakicic says he wears a tracker as a fitness tool.It’s important to note that the study participants who used fitness trackers did lose weight.
A tracker can help by providing:
Whatever motivates you to eat wisely and stay active will boost your health. If a fitness tracker helps with that, go for it!
If you’d like to be more active, visit with your health care provider about ways to get started. And watch Aurora’s Facebook page for additional fitness tips. It’s never too late to get going!