The study was focused on people aged 65-79 who were classes as obese. Whilst the entire group were given advice on health and fitness throughout the program, half of the group were also given a fitness tracker, similar to this one, which measure the number of steps taken and gives feedback on progress towards goals. The results showed that the group without the fitness tracker lost around 5% of their body weight, however, the group with the fitness tracker lost 10%.
The researchers put this down to the fact that people with a fitness tracker will feel more inclined to just get up and move for the sake of logging more steps, something they didn’t really see as “exercise”. Where as, the control group did not feel that need, they stuck to their planned exercise routine and were less active throughout the day.
Whilst this looked at a small section of society in older and overweight people only, there is no reason to think that this wouldn’t apply to everyone else. An older study performed at the University of Indiana found that wearers of fitness trackers actually walked around 15% further than those who did not and the group lost more weight than those who did not. Again, this study seemed to find that seeing “real time” feedback on small amounts of movement was key as it gave people an excuse to get up and move more often. Whilst this was a small study, the results seem positive.
Personally, I find myself more motivated to run if I have a GPS watch, such as this one, so that I can see the distance, speed and time I’ve been going. I also record this data in an app and review it regularly (even occasionally posting on this site). This allows you to set more clear goals which you can easily measure each day / week / month / year.