Activity trackers are everywhere, possibly rivaling water bottles as one of the most widely used fitness accessories. While these tools offer an ever-expanding array of trackable options — daily steps, heart rate, and sleep, to name a few — much of their potential value comes down to one basic principle, according to researcher Dori Rosenberg, PhD, MPH: To successfully make a behavior change (such as walking more or sitting less), having feedback on your behavior can be key.
“Activity trackers provide an easy way for us to gauge how active we are and whether we are meeting fitness goals we set for ourselves,” says Dr. Rosenberg, an associate investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) who has conducted extensive research into physical activity and sedentary time — often using activity trackers.
“In one study, we found that providing people with a Fitbit device to track their steps after having bariatric surgery resulted in an increase of almost 2,000 steps per day,” says Dr. Rosenberg, adding “People really enjoyed using their device.”
So how do you find a device you’d enjoy using — and that’s a good match for your activity goals? Dr. Rosenberg provides the following insight and advice.
Dr. Rosenberg suggests asking yourself a few questions if you're thinking about buying an activity tracker:
Read consumer reviews of devices, Dr. Rosenberg recommends, and ask people who use them to find out which trackers are comfortable, easy to use, and have the features you want. Finally, she notes, you might not need equipment to be more active. Some people just set simple alarms to remind them to stand and walk around. You can also gradually build more exercise into your daily routine with these 5 tips.
Dr. Dori Rosenberg discusses her work on a new Cochrane review looking at ways to help older adults be less sedentary.
KPWHRI’s Dr. Dori Rosenberg shares 28 ways to be less sedentary.
Read it in Live Healthy.
Changing behavior isn’t easy, but Dr. Dori Rosenberg helped older people to stand and walk more.