The technologies we carry like our phones, watches, and other gadgets permits enormous quantity of data to be collected daily. There is a purpose to all of this, the point of having an activity tracker is so that we can become more aware of how much/little activity we’ve been doing so that we can make positive alteration to our lifestyle. Especially when health benefits of physical activity as well as the risk of being sedentary are well established. Many people are starting to prioritise healthy living and activity trackers are the first… step.
Researches from Duke National University of SINGAPORE Medical school designed a research study to make comparison between full time employees who use activity tracker and those who didn’t.
All of the 800 employees participating in the study were paid $10 to enrol and were randomly assigned into 4 different groups for one year:
What was the result?
For group that received cash incentive increased their daily steps taken as compared to the beginning of the study. This group had increased activity than the control group at 6 months, and 88% of them continue to use their Fitbit which is a significant difference as compared to 66% of the Fitbit users who were part of the charity incentive group.
Once the incentive stopped, only 1 in 10 subjects continued to use the Fitbit. After a year, the incentives stopped and activity levels fell in the groups receiving incentive in comparison to when they started.
This is a disappointing result as you would expect the participants from this group to be more motivated than the rest and continue to focus on their activity levels. After all, they went through the effort and expense of enrolling into the study and put up with all the monitoring. Moreover, most people in the real world has no financial incentives to maintain a level of activity.
This led to a new study for University of Pittsburgh which found less weight loss among young adults who utilised a fitness tracker compared to those who did not.
Activity trackers has quickly become a multimillion dollar product category and we won’t be seeing them go away at any time soon. To actually get people moving and having a positive impact on their health will probably require them to be used in more innovative ways. It is likely that new generations of such devices will be created to meet individual needs and medical conditions instead. For example, an individual who is dealing with diabetes may need to monitor physical activity and provide information on how to coordinate insulin injections.
In our opinion, we feel that activity trackers are devices used to enhance individuals who already possess an active lifestyle to meet their exercise milestone instead of acting as a motivation for people to exercise.