Before you strap that new activity tracker to your wrist, you may be interested in some evidence from a new study that suggests the popular wristbands do little to help you lose weight and may in fact hinder positive results. After studying those with high tech tracking gear and those trying to lose pounds without the help of a tracker, researchers were surprised to find that the lo-tech way actually yields better results.
CNN reports about the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that suggests fitness tracking devices that help you count calories, the steps you take, heart rate and so on may not be as helpful as was once thought. During the 24 month study, all of the participants were given face-to-face weight loss prevention programs focusing healthy activities and foods.
Half of the participants involved were encouraged to use activity tracker wristbands while the other half kept a type written log of their activities on a website. Both groups were said to improve their “body composition” as well as physical activity levels and diets. But the group wearing the health trackers only lost an average of 7.7 pounds over the 24 month period whereas those that did not use the trackers lost around 13 pounds.
Researchers involved in the study were not expecting these results and are unsure of exactly why fitness trackers are not as effective. Dr. Barbara Berkeley, a board-certified physician in both internal and obesity medicine, believes that those wearing the fitness tracking devices may have relied too heavily on exercise to lose weight, rather than incorporating better diet plans. She says, “It's entirely possible that those who were paying more attention to the exercise part of their regimen [because of the wearable device] were less scrupulous about their intake.” She also says that extra exercising often gives dieters a feeling “that they've 'earned' the chance to eat more.”
Or possibly, those people who kept the written log instead of wearing the tracker felt more accountable from the act or writing down they activities. So they possibly could have exercised more or harder.
Do you use an activity tracker? What has been your experience?
What do you think of the new study that suggests activity trackers are not as effective when trying to lose weight?