Over the last few years we have seen a massive increase in the number of people wearing a fitness tracker, but do they actually provide any benefits?
If you listen to researchers the answer would be “no” with pedometers said to be “unlikely to be a panacea for rising rates of chronic disease”, experts have said.
Recent reports in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology and the Journal of American Medical Association have also suggested that no benefits are actually gained.
Tests were setup whereby a control group had no tracker, another group wore a Fitbit Zip device and another group were offered a financial incentive either for themselves or a charity to carry out physical activity.
During the survey researchers found that only those that were offered financial incentives increased their physical activity during over six and twelve months.
However, over twelve months even the cash incentive group had returned to the same levels of activity as they had recorded at the start of the trials.
The authors of the reports wrote: “Wearable activity trackers are becoming increasingly popular. However, our results show that they are unlikely to be a panacea for rising rates of chronic disease.
“Although the trackers seem to have been effective at stemming a reduction in physical activity seen in participants in the control group at 12 months, we identified no evidence of improved health outcomes.”
Lead author Prof Eric Finkelstein from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore said: “Over the course of the year-long study, volunteers who wore the activity trackers recorded no change in their step count but moderately increased their amount of aerobic activity by an average of 16 minutes per week.
“However, we found no evidence that the device promoted weight loss or improved blood pressure or cardio respiratory fitness, either with or without financial incentives.”
Last month, a separate study found that fitness trackers offer no useful benefits when it comes to losing weight.