by Carol Kennedy-Armbruster, Ph.D., FACSM
Activity trackers (ATs) are once again at the top of the ACSM fitness trends (clocking in at #3 on the 2018 list). Why is this? With 80 percent of the US population failing to meet the recommended cardiorespiratory and resistance training guidelines, maybe people are looking for a different and/or more convenient way to motivate themselves toward a healthy lifestyle.
It is hard to research ATs in this world of changing technology. We do not know if wearing ATs changes behavior over time (the research is mixed and not very robust) but we know the business of ATs is booming. It is expected that ATs will generate $53 billion in sales by 2019, and an estimated 75 million people will use an AT by 2021!
Has technology invaded the fitness world much the same way it has invaded many other aspects of our lives? The real question is: IS THIS HEALTHY AND DO THEY WORK TO SUSTAIN A LIFESTYLE CHANGE? Currently we do not have enough research to say one way or the other.
A research focus that includes behavioral components of the impact of ATs might help us to understand their effects. Technology continues to challenge us to look at new and different ways to accomplish goals. What we do know is that ATs (whether accurate or not) have intrigued us to count steps, self-motivate, and participate in social challenges with others to move more and sit less.