Fitness Tracker Effectiveness

Can a fitness tracker really help with our exercise, diet and weight loss goal? Some research says it depends on how they are used.

“Fitness trackers are not necessarily made for weight-loss purposes. They are made more for behavior change with increasing your physical activity. Some fitness trackers you can also set to remind you to get up and move around during the day, which is excellent for stretching your muscles and just trying to be cognitively more active,” says Susan Davies, PhD, a bariatric nutritionist at Rapid City Medical Center. 

Getting more active is the key- a fitness tracker (like a Fitbit) can good for that along with setting goals and tracking heart rate but less effective with calories burned and tracking accurate steps – since they are worn on the wrist and not the hip like a pedometer.

Davies says, “If an individual wants to track steps they should really consider a pedometer that fits on the waist over the hip bone because that will track or count the steps more accurately. And the new physical activity guidelines that came out in 2019 are really focusing on just movement rather than a specific amount of movement. For example 10 minutes has always been the standard. If you can do something and it is intentional activity for 10 minutes. Now the new recommendations are looking at any movement just increase the health and the fitness of the individuals.”

Davies says keep in mind that weight loss goals and physical activities goals are different. Exercise as more of an intentional act, whereas physical activity as more is leisure, things you do on a daily basis.

“Weight goals are different then physical activity goals. Physical activity goals are really focusing more on our cardiovascular health. Put them together – you’re getting the real benefit overall for an individual,” adds Davies. 

As with any fitness goal, your plan should be personalized to suit what you can do- striving to include a variety of activities in our daily routine and set our own personal goals for growth.

So all in all fitness trackers may not necessarily help you to loose weight, but it does help with better fitness which can contribute to overall improved health.

The CDC recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of physical activity a week.

Categories: Wellness Wednesdays