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Fitbit study monitors change in activity versus regular pedometer

According to a new study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, postmenopausal women who set activity level goals for a given week get more physical activity when using a Fitbit device than a traditional pedometer, reports a Reuters article published earlier today.

The device are small trackers you can either wear on clothing or be put in a wristband and worn on your wrist. They sync with the Fitbit website and portray one’s data in graphs and charts.

The lead author on the study is Lisa A. Cadmus-Bertram, and she and her colleagues assigned 51 overweight postmenopausal women to four-week self-monitoring activity with the goal of getting 10,000 steps per day and 150 minutes of at least moderate physical activity per week.

Half of the women were given a Fitbit One that clips at the waistband, can be kept in one’s pocket or bra, for the ladies. The other half were given a simple pedometer. What I already think is odd about the study is the fact that there was uneven number of women being monitored… They couldn’t cut one off the study or get another women to make it an even 50 or 52 and have an equal amount being monitored for both ends?

Apparently before the study, the women were getting an average of 33 minutes of activity in bouts of at least 10 minutes each per week and took an average of almost 6,000 steps each week. So I suppose the women who were monitored were already wearing a pedometer before the four-week study? That aspect is unclear.

Anyway, the women who wore the pedometer’s results were not even statistically significant enough to be noted by the author of the Reuters article. The women who used the Fitbit One increased their weekly by 38 minutes to 1 hour, 11 minutes of average activity; and increased their average steps by 789 per week.

Even those in the Fitbit group were far from the desired goal of 150 minutes of activity, missing that mark by more than half of the amount – and since it says almost 6,000 steps plus 789 average steps per week, it’s probably safe to say they were up to 6,700 steps or so and still missed the goal of 10,000 steps by a bit more than 3,000.

Cadmus-Bertram suggested fitness trackers can boast principles of self-monitoring and help change habits like eating better or becoming more active – and that they are an “exciting new tool in the toolbox of behavioral science,” helping exercise become a bit more fun.

Even though I think the study seems to have a few holes, there is some validity to that statement. I had a Fitbit Flex for a time, and even though I may be far from a postmenopausal woman, I thought the device worked quite well and made me want to get a bit more active because there were goals I could set for myself.

The Fitbit Flex is one of the devices worn as a wristband. It can track steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, active minutes, and it even tracks your sleeping – with hours slept and your quality of sleep, largely based on arm movement.

It’s a handy device but I haven’t used mine for a while because my wristband broke and I just haven’t gotten around to getting to my local retailer to get a new wristband. Wearing the device made me want to track my progress more and eat better, and the community vibe on the Fitbit’s website gives it a bit of fun competition – seeing if you could take more steps than your friends.

About Daniel Prinn

Daniel Prinn
Daniel Prinn is a lover of words. He loves journalism and currently enrolled in a journalism program. He was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. A lover of films, writing, photography, ping pong and especially sleeping. He makes it a priority to entertain readers. Contact Daniel: daniel.prinn@youthindependent.com