For Christmas, my husband and I thought it would be fun to get everyone in his family a Fit Bit so that we could challenge each other to be healthier by moving more. A bunch of my friends and family already had one so we grew our challenge group to 10+! The first month was a success. Lots of taunts and cheers.
Fast forward to today. Most of the family group is MIA and I forgot to even wear my Fit Bit yesterday (for the first time EVER). One person has already decided he’s no longer using the Fit Bit at all.
My husband said he wasn’t surprised that the novelty wore off, but I have to say that I am. I was actually enjoying the daily challenges and always felt the pressure to move more to meet my step goal. Apparently, our experience isn’t a unique one. A study published this week in JAMA found that personal fitness device just don’t work in the way that they were intended to:
Despite the potential of pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health, there is little evidence of broad adoption by the general population. In contrast, nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States own a smartphone and technology advancements have enabled these devices to track health behaviors such as physical activity and provide convenient feedback.
The study looked at several popular trackers (Jawbone, Fit Bit, Nike etc) and found that while most are accurate, none are more accurate the the tracking apps found on most smart phones. This lead researchers actually propose using a smart phone device as a tracker rather than a wearable device.
Most of us take our cell phones everywhere so it almost makes sense to use that as a tracker. The issue for me is running or walking with my phone. I don’t always feel compelled to take my cell phone along and in those instances, having a wearable tracker is helpful for me.
The bigger issue, according to the researchers involved in the study, is that no fitness tracker has proven to motivate individuals to move. We were under the impression that a wearable tracker combined with daily challenges would be enough encouragement to get moving. And we were wrong. Science and our personal experiment proved that to be true.
Do you use a fitness tracker? Do you feel that it encourages you to move more?
Learn More: New York Times, Better Fitness Through Your Phone