Fitness Trackers Need Some Human Intervention

Andy Peloquin

Personal Training

Activity trackers, also known as fitness trackers, are definitely in style. Not only are they becoming more popular among the fitness community (gymgoers, CrossFitters), but working professionals, stay-at-home moms, and even teenagers are purchasing wearable tech to help track fitness. In 2015, roughly 78.1 million fitness wearables were sold. That number was estimated to increase to 102 million for 2016.

 

According to a new study from Indiana University, those activity trackers can be an effective way to lose weight, especially if you pair them with wellness coaching. Faculty at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington discovered that the combination of fitness trackers and wellness coaching proved effective.

 

 

The addition of coaching support enhanced the efforts of those using activity trackers, leading to better results. The researchers studied 173 coaches who worked with IU students to improve their fitness. The students were also presented with Fitbit trackers to monitor activity. The coaching sessions lasted for just ten weeks, during which time the coaches helped students to establish a baseline for the desired step count per day.

 

After the ten-week coaching sessions, 93% of the students reported that the coaching helped them to develop fitness goals more effectively, and 90% found that the combination of coaching and fitness tracking made it easier to sustain their fitness efforts even after the coaching sessions ended.

 

Many of the students felt guilty because they didn't engage in what they believed to be proper exercise: cardio training, weightlifting, or other gym-related activities. The coaches helped them to find other types of movement that didn't involve regular gym sessions. This alleviated the students' stress and made it easier for them to approach their fitness in a whole new way. The result: an increased movement among the students, and better fitness results overall.

 

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Fitness trackers can be a useful reminder to help you get in your workout, and they can keep you aware of your need for exercise, movement, and activity. But the fitness tracker alone may not be enough to get you in shape.

 

Perhaps it's time to work with a coach—a wellness coach, a trainer at the gym, yoga instructor, or anyone who encourages you to move more. You don't have to get your exercise cooped up in a gym or classroom. You can walk around the office, stroll through the park, cycle to and from work, or play with your kids.

 

What matters is that you move around more. The activity tracker will be the reminder you need, and a coach can help you stay on top of your fitness efforts.

 

Reference:

1. Kiessling, Brian II M.S.; Kennedy-Armbruster, Carol Ph.D., FACSM. "Move more, sit less, and be well: Behavioral Aspects of Activity Trackers." Health & Fitness Journal, November 2016.

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