Fitness trackers boost daily step counts, promote weight loss: study

Story at a glance


  • Researchers reviewed nearly 400 studies involving more than 140,000 participants who wore fitness trackers to monitor their activities and the impact on their health. 

  • The team found that those who wore the devices walked on average 40 minutes more per day, while losing 2.2 pounds over five months.

  • They also found positive impacts on mental health. 

Wearing fitness trackers increases time spent walking each day, leading to other health improvements, according to a recent study.  

Researchers from the University of South Australia reviewed nearly 400 studies involving more than 140,000 participants who wore fitness trackers to monitor their activities and the impact on their health. 

The team found that those who wore the devices walked on average 40 minutes more per day, while losing 2.2 pounds over five months.  

“The overall results from the studies we reviewed shows that wearable activity trackers are effective across all age groups and for long periods of time,” lead researcher Ty Ferguson said in a news release.  

“They encourage people to exercise on a regular basis, to make it part of their routine and to set goals to lose weight.” 

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Study co-author Carol Maher noted although the researchers neither found nor expected “dramatic weight loss,” the findings were significant. 

“The average person gains about 0.5 kg (1.1 pounds) a year in weight creep so losing 1kg (2.2 pounds) over five months is significant, especially when you consider that two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese.” 

More than 40 percent of U.S. adults 20 and over are classified as obese, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The current study shows the devices’ effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, and quality of life issues like pain were “typically small and often non-significant.” Yet researchers found positive impacts on mental health. 

“The other reported benefit is that WATs improved depression and anxiety through an increase in physical activity,” Ferguson concluded. 

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