They are wildly popular. In the gym, in the park… anywhere that you expect fitness enthusiasts, you will see them being worn proudly like some kind of badge of honor. But according to a recent study, fitness trackers, also referred to as fitness monitors and activity trackers, may actually hamper your weight loss efforts.
If you are surprised by this, you’re not alone. Even the experts appear surprised, even befuddled.
As the name suggests fitness trackers are wearable gadgets that monitor your daily physical activity. Earlier versions were worn around the upper arm but later ones are worn around the wrist just like a wristwatch or bracelet.
While older models just offered step and sleep tracking, modern more sophisticated versions can monitor various data including heart-rate, oxygen level, temperature, perspiration, body mass, and calories burnt. They can even be synced with your smartphone. And some can be pricey depending on the number of bells and whistles they carry.
According to the study published in the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), investing in a fitness tracker may not be money well-spent.
In the study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, 470 adult participants were put on a low-calorie diet and encouraged to exercise more. At six months, half of the participants were placed on self-monitoring diet and physical activity using a website. Individuals in the other half were provided a wearable device to monitor diet and physical activity.
After two years, both groups had lost weight. However, the group with monitors had lost significantly less weight than the group without monitors.
So far, experts can only offer opinions as to the reason for fitness trackers being less effective in helping users lose weight. One opinion is that they may offer the user a false sense of security; “I exercised a lot today, now I can eat more.”
Being old school, I have never been a fan of these and find them rather cumbersome even as they are small and their weight negligible. I’m not becoming one anytime soon.
You can read more about this at the NPR website.