According to a new study by Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, fitness trackers do not actually encourage a healthier lifestyle. The study, which was published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, found that men and women who wore Fitbit Zip, a fitness tracker, did not show improvements in weight loss or blood pressure.
The study involved splitting 800 participants into four different groups. One group’s participants were given approximately $2.92 and a Fitbit Zip. Two of the groups were given $11 for every week that they managed between 50,000 and 70,000 steps, but one of those groups had to donate their earnings to charity. The fourth group was only given information about exercise but without a Fitbit Zip. Participants that were given money experienced the biggest increase in physical activity, a few months later. However, after a year, 90% of the participants had given up on using their fitness trackers. In fact, despite being more active, Fitbit Zip users didn’t show improvements in weight loss or blood pressure.
“These are basically measuring devices,” said Eric Finkelstein, a professor at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, who led the research. Finkelstein argued that, “knowing how active you are doesn’t translate into getting people to do more and the novelty of having that information wears off pretty quickly.”
The results of the study reinforce previous studies on fitness trackers. Last month, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that found that adding wearable activity tracking devices to a diet and fitness program didn’t actually result in additional weight loss. In fact, those participants who did not wear devices lost approximately five more pounds than those who wore them. However, both groups did lose weight, changed their eating habits and activity levels.
Finkelstein argued that “trackers can encourage people to take more steps, but it still seems like the random extra steps aren’t enough to really improve your health.” Consequently, the results of the study shows it requires more than just a leisure walk but, more rigorous exercise.
Since the study was published, Fitbit issued a statement on Tuesday asserting their fitness products are helping millions of people lose weight. “We are confident in the positive results our millions of users have seen from using Fitbit products.” Fitbit added that they are continuing to develop and improve their fitness tracking equipment.