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fitness watches are not effective at helping users lose weight

Wearable, electronic fitness trackers are enormously popular

People use them to gauge how much activity they get on a daily basis. The tracker may provide them with some type of feedback that suggests they should go for a run or stand up for a while. All of this data is supposed to help users lead a healthier lifestyle. Presumably, this would cause significant weight loss, but a new study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests otherwise.

The Study

The study was led by eminent researcher Dr. John Jakicic. Along with his colleagues, he followed 470 randomly selected, overweight people for two years. All participants were adults between the ages of 18 and 35. For the first six months, study subjects received education that included weekly counseling sessions regarding weight loss. They were also asked to exercise more and eat a low-calorie diet. Six months into the study, the subjects were randomly divided into two groups. Each member of one group was given a Fit Core by BodyMedia fitness tracker. In 2010, when the study began, the tracker was cutting-edge. By today’s standards, it was relatively clunky and had limited utility.

Members of the other group did not have fitness trackers. Instead, they continued with monthly group-counseling sessions. At the study’s conclusion 18 months later, researchers discovered that people in the group that had fitness trackers had lost an average of 7.7 pounds. Conversely, those who participated in ongoing health counseling lost an average of 13 pounds.

Jakicic is quick to point out that the study does not mean that fitness trackers are necessarily bad or ineffective. After all, every test subject in the study did report the loss of weight and improved levels of fitness. However, Jakicic suggests that if an individual’s overall goal is weight loss, then it may not make sense to make a fitness tracker the main basis of the effort. That is especially true considering that there is a tendency for people to be really enthusiastic about their new fitness tracker for a few weeks or months, with their interest tapering off over time.

This tendency was borne out in the study. Participants in the group that received a fitness tracker routinely wore it in the first couple of months. However, their use became spotty after that. The results of the study are complicated by the fact that the Fit Core was a rather large, bulky device that was worn on an arm band. This made it rather conspicuous and uncomfortable, which would certainly discourage users from wearing it constantly.

Fitness Trackers Today

Today’s fitness trackers are sleeker and have much more advanced functionality when compared with the Fit Core that was used in the study. Nonetheless, the findings from the study remain intriguing. Jakicic suggests that the companies making fitness trackers may want to gear their technology toward interacting with users on a more human level that gets to the heart of why they aren’t exercising as opposed to simply providing a reprimand for inactivity. Jakicic also notes the tendency of fitness tracker users to rely too heavily on the device as if it can somehow magically deliver the desired results.

In short, more information isn’t necessarily the key to losing weight. A combination of psychology, motivation and data is needed to generate a lasting, healthier lifestyle change.

If you are tired of relying on tracker, app or machine to determine your wight loss, it might be time for you to consider personal training. We have affordable personal training programs that will provide results and won’t leave you frustrated.