Science Suspects If Fitness Trackers Really Do Work. We Bring You The Answer!
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Science Suspects If Fitness Trackers Really Do Work. We Bring You The Answer!

Fitness
Lakshmi Devan
3 min read

Science Suspects If Fitness Trackers Really Do Work. We Bring You The Answer!

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Fitness trackers are just like any other motivators. A fitness tracker will give your weight loss regimen a boost. It is capable of facilitating your mission greatly, but without your diligent efforts, a tracker is incapable of driving the change you want.

Move over terrorism and sexism; technology is the new hot controversy these days. While technological giants are absorbed in launching one innovation after another, be it an AI-powered micro camera or quantum computing, the other part is preoccupied with fulminations against the crippling addiction that is technology.

Indian wearable market clocked a whopping 2.5 million units in sales in 2016 and fitness trackers were identified as the key drivers. We all know at least one person, who is counting their footsteps, keeping a track of their heart rate, and scrutinising their sleep cycle EVERY SINGLE DAY.  While the appeal of fitness trackers is obvious— taking charge of life, tracking and making sure you are moving more, burning more (calories), and achieving more.

In 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), published a two-year study by the University of Pittsburgh that suggested that fitness trackers may actually undermine weight-loss efforts. In the study, for six months, 470 overweight adults followed a calorie-restricted diet, aimed for 100 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, and attended weekly group counselling sessions. As expected, everyone experienced weight loss. For the next 18 months, half of the participants got fitness trackers, while the other half simply self-monitored their food intake and exercise. The researchers were expecting that the half with fitness trackers would continue shedding more pounds…but what happened was not really expected. At the end of study, the group with trackers had shed an average of 7.7 pounds each, while the self-monitoring participants lost nearly double— 13 pounds!

Smart, Watch, Technology, Fitness, Tracker, Health

Here’s what the report says –

“Effective long-term treatments are needed to address the obesity epidemic. Numerous wearable technologies specific to physical activity and diet are available, but it is unclear if these are effective at improving weight loss.”

Even more interestingly, another study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology concluded with the lead author, Eric Finkelstein, saying, “Fitness trackers are equivalent to a bathroom scale. They tell you something, but don’t give you a strategy for how to change it.”

You must be wondering where it’s really going wrong. Well, for starters, the researchers in these studies have warned that the reader not just look at the result and jump to an immediate conclusion.

“These findings don’t mean that fitness trackers don’t work,” adds John Jakicic, lead author of the JAMA study. “They just don’t work for everybody. They’re marketed on the premise that if you see how little you’re doing physically, you’ll be motivated to do more, but that’s a very simplistic way to think about changing behaviour. Many people need a lot more than that.”

Green, Band, Exercise, Tracker, Fitness, Health, Fitbit

 Bottom line: Fitness trackers are just like any other motivators. Like gyms or green coffee beans or Zumba, a fitness tracker will give your weight loss regimen a boost. It is capable of facilitating your mission greatly, but without your diligent efforts, a tracker is incapable of driving the change you want to see alone. So, if you’re a little low on motivation, a fitness tracker is all you need, but if you are looking for a true Christmas miracle in the name of weight loss (or just general fitness), then there is yet to be a tool that can help you.   

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