There is no question that the popularity of wearable fitness tracking devices has exploded recently. Sales of these devices exceeded 78 million in 2015 and are expected to top 100 million in 2016.
These devices are a helpful tool for self-monitoring and measuring steps and other activity. Establishing an activity goal and measuring your progress towards that goal can help create positive behavior change. I’m all about measuring. I believe things that get measured get done. So the question is, “Is it working? Are the people who track their steps improving their health?”
Wearable tracking devices are so new that few good studies exist. However, the results of a recent, and the most comprehensive study I’ve seen, were published in October of this year (2016). The study was conducted by scientists in Singapore using a randomized control trial with employees from 13 different organizations who were followed for one year. View the complete study here.
The conclusion states, “We identified no evidence of improvements in health outcomes, either with or without incentives, calling into question the value of these devices for health promotion.” After one year, there was no improvement in weight, blood pressure, etc.
Don’t miss what is important
What does this mean about wearables? I believe they are a valuable tool for tracking activity and for encouraging a healthy level of exercise. However, that is just one aspect of health. If you have read our previous articles, you know that the biggest factor in health improvement is what you eat. You just can’t outrun your fork.You just can’t outrun your fork. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, for many people, increasing their activity level just gives them permission to eat more of the wrong foods. People rationalize, “I worked out today, so I can have that ……….. “ You can fill in the blank. I’ve seen people take in twice as many calories with their after-workout smoothie as they burned in their workout. You must focus on what you eat if you want to stay healthy. And, you need to know what is healthy and what is not.
All aspects of a healthy lifestyle matter
Don’t get the wrong idea. I think tracking, no matter how you do it, is good. But please understand that wearing a tracking device and getting your 10,000 steps per day without eating healthy isn’t going to do much for your health. See the eating plan in the 21 Day Challenge to learn more about healthy eating or download our simple healthy eating meal suggestions.
A healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating, exercise, sleep, low stress, fun, and community will reap tremendous rewards.
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