What’s That on Your Wrist?

The popularity of fitness trackers is skyrocketing. Whether it’s a Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike Fuelband, or another model – someone you know probably has one to track their activity.

And while they may help to keep you moving, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests they may not help you lose weight. From CBS News:

If you got a fitness tracker to keep tabs on your diet and exercise to help you lose weight, and were disappointed by the results – you’re not alone. A new study suggests the devices don’t improve weight loss for many people.

In fact, overweight young adults who did not use fitness trackers during a two-year weight loss study dropped more pounds than those who did use them, report researchers from the University of Pittsburgh.

According to the New York Times, “The results suggest that activity monitors may not change our behavior in the way we expected, and raise interesting questions about the tangled relationships between exercise, eating, our willpower, and our waistlines.

National Public Radio (NPR) quoted John Jakicic, a researcher of health and physical activity at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author on the study, as he tried to explain the surprising results.

“These technologies are focused on physical activity, like taking steps and getting your heart rate up,” says Jakicic. “People would say, ‘Oh, I exercised a lot today, now I can eat more.’ And they might eat more than they otherwise would have.”

It’s also possible, he says, that meeting daily fitness goals and step counts might motivate one person, but missing those same goals could discourage another.

Does all this mean those bands on your wrist are useless? Not at all. But it might mean you have to be smarter about the way you use it and the information it provides. Today.com wrote, “Instead, use a fitness tracker to be more active; to reduce diabetes and heart disease risks, for example. “It is not one size fits all,” researchers said. “Weight loss management … is way more complex.” The positive takeaway: “Small changes make a difference.”

Share your thoughts on this new study and whether the results surprise you. We agree that small changes can make a difference and believe the more we are willing to change our behaviors to lead healthier lives, the closer we get to our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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