Do fitness trackers make you more fit?

Two months ago, my birthday present from my family was an iWatch which its biggest component is a fitness tracker.  So when I stumbled upon the article “Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer (if Only We Used Them)” I was interested to see what they said as I recently caught the wave of using a fitness tracker.  This article uses two different pieces of research, one by the American Journal of Epidemiology and the other published by The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, to investigate the impacts of fitness trackers and the motivations to use it.  The first journal focuses on the question of if the data from fitness trackers actually correlates with your health.  It uses 4000 people and conducts a quantitative study over a long period of time in order to compare who lived longer; those who used fitness trackers or those who didn’t.  The next journal focuses on the question of motivation to use fitness trackers and was more of a qualitative.  They used three groups, one that was payed, one that was given a donation to their favorite charity, and one that was given nothing. So two experimental and one control group in which they changed variables in the first two.  These groups were compared to see which group would exercise more.  They then took away those benefits and compared the first set of results to the second to see if there was a difference.

First research that the article talks about is a stratified random sample of 4000 middle aged men and women.  Nothing else is known about how they are selected but the data collected from them were on a nominal level with item to total reliability.  The article aimed for prediction validity by attempting to show that those who wore fitness trackers lived longer than those who didn’t.  On the other hand, the second journal was discussed more specifically in the news article.  Using non-probability sampling, it was on a partially volunteer basis of 800 office workers from Singapore.  Regardless of the different methods, I don’t believe that either are very representative samples as one was of only middle aged men and women rather than all ages and the others were office workers in a different country who weren’t regularly active in their day to day lives.

The research itself was done using experimental research as the experimenters manipulated certain variables to see if there was a cause-effect relationship.  This made it easy to see the impact of the research done and provided clear results.  The first journal had a very simple experimental research, it tracked middle aged men and women for ten years and checked to see who had died in those ten years.  It showed that those who wore a fitness tracker were more likely to be alive than those who hadn’t.  The next journal’s research was a little more complex.  It took 800 office workers and had three groups, a control, and two variable manipulations.  Then they got rid of the variable manipulation to see if the manipulation had an impact on the results.  Ultimately, the way the research was conducted was pretty straight forward and was simple to understand logically as the reader.

But I always come back to the question of, would a rational person invest in a fitness tracker?  It wouldn’t hurt.  I wouldn’t run to the store immediately to grab one as it probably won’t make you more fit.  But if you are looking for a way to track your progress this is probably one of the best ways to do it.  

Work cited

Reynolds, Gretchen. “Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer (if Only We Used Them).” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

5 thoughts on “Do fitness trackers make you more fit?

  1. Olivia Anne Browne

    I really liked this post. I can definitely argue that my fitness tracker aids to my success. I bought an apple watch 2 years ago and when I wear it I try to reach my set goal. You can basically set a goal on the watch that shows you how many calories you want to burn actively and how many hours of the day you are up on your feet. This is a healthy way to challenge yourself. I seem to amp up my goals after easily attaining my past goal and thats where I find it really fun. I liked your articles provided; they were very intriguing. I do think fitness trackers will aid in some of your own personal success. They’ll definitely give you a little motivation to get moving.
    Check out this article on how to use your fitness tracker to get fit!

  2. vek5025

    I liked that you ended your post with the question would a rational person buy this? This is similar to the way that Andrew ends many of his class topics. I felt that your blog was a little hard to understand, because it is difficult to find the main point/ conclusions made from the studies.

  3. Natalie Elizabeth Burns

    I liked this article and it shows how you researched very well and thoroughly. However, I think there needs to be a realization with the very significant chance of cofounding variables. Such as disease, genetics, illnesses etc. In my opinion, I don’t think the fitness tracker had too much to do with the alive vs death rate because of these variables. I do think you did a great job at giving the information and your opinion in the concluding paragraph.

  4. Alexandra Nicole Iaccino

    After reading this post, I am definitely considering investing in a fitness tracker to help get in shape. My dad got a fitbit when he started going to the gym and working out to try to get in shape. He claims that it really helped him reach his goal and lose weight. I think that it would be beneficial for most people to get a fitness tracker to become more aware of how they are doing.

  5. Mackenzie French

    Like you, I also got a fitness present for my birthday; I got the fitbit. At the time I was very into working out and being healthy and I thought having a fitbit would be perfect to track my steps and everything throughout the day. It also allows me to see my heart rate and calories burned. For me personally this helped me get into shape since I was more aware of what I was doing and how much exercise I was getting a day. Reading the studies was interesting, but I think it all bottles down to how motivated you are to be healthy and in shape, and wether a fitness tracker would help you do so or not. Interesting blog!

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