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Fitbits make you move more! Review of more than 100 randomized trial finds

Fitbits make you move more! A review shows that people who wear wearable fitness gadgets take 1,200 extra steps per day and move almost an hour more per week

  • Researchers found that physical activity monitors made wearers more active
  • They examined 121 scientific trials of the devices involving 16,000 people
  • The activity increase was equivalent to 1,200 extra daily steps and 50 min of weekly exercise



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They were written off by many as just another fitness fad.

But a new review has found that wearable activity devices like Fitbits and Apple watches can actually make people more active.

Researchers examined the results of more than 100 randomized trials of wearable tracking gadgets, involving nearly 17,000 adults in the past decade.

Overall, people who wear monitors take 1,200 extra steps each day and complete nearly 50 more minutes of physical activity per week, the results suggested.

The devices track things like steps and heart rate to motivate their wearers to meet their daily fitness goals or improve their performance.

Publishing their findings in the BMJUniversity of Copenhagen academics described the daily increase in activity as ‘small to moderate’.

But they said the devices could still be useful for extended periods of time, given that most adults don’t meet recommended activity levels.

In the paper, they wrote that their research “provides evidence for the use of physical activity monitors to improve physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at a time when large, feasible and scalable interventions are urgently needed.”

A study found that physical activity devices encourage people to do nearly 50 extra minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week

A study found that physical activity devices encourage people to do nearly 50 extra minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week

The NHS recommends adults complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to improve their health, and in particular reduce their risk of heart disease or stroke.

But according to government estimates, only 67 percent of men and 55 percent of women in England meet this target of two and a half hours of physical activity per week.

The Danish researchers said they were forced to review the available data after reading mixed reviews about their effectiveness in previous research.

They examined the results of 121 randomized trials of the devices, involving a total of 16,743 adults and lasting an average of 12 weeks.

These trials were mostly held in Europe and North America. The average age of the participants was 47 years and most three quarters were women.

Overall, the devices encouraged people to do more general physical activity, the equivalent of 1,235 extra steps and more “moderate to vigorous physical activity,” equivalent to 48.5 extra minutes per week.

They also found that people using the devices sat down about 10 minutes less per day, but this was considered insignificant.

Devices that provided feedback, such as reminders or daily goals, were found to be more effective for all metrics than those that didn’t.

One flaw in the study, which the researchers acknowledged, is that the trials differed both in design and method, and the findings may not be relevant for lower-income countries.

However, they said the study showed that physical activity monitors can help improve fitness levels.

The researchers also called for further research into how the devices could be used in conjunction with other behavior modification methods to help people be more active.

A lack of exercise, combined with diet, is considered one of the leading causes of obesity in the UK.

Six in ten adults in the UK are obese and the rates in children are even higher. One in seven children in England is obese by the time they start childcare.

Spiraling obesity rates in England have prompted No10 to try a new fitness program freebies, where people will see Fitbit-like devices and reward them with coupons and movie tickets if they exercise and eat healthy.

HOW MUCH PRACTICE YOU NEED

To stay healthy, adults ages 19 to 64 should try to be active on a daily basis and should do the following:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking per week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that target all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that target all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week – for example 2 x 30 minutes of running plus 30 minutes of brisk walking corresponds to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that target all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A good rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to get to your recommended 150-minute weekly exercise is to do 30 minutes on 5 days each week.

All adults should also break long periods of sitting with light activity.

Source: NHS

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