Over the last few years, more Americans have strapped fitness-tracking devices to their wrists in an effort to stay healthy. Some wearable options simply count steps while others offer sophisticated technology that provides more detailed data like heart rate and calories burned. But are wearables all they’re cracked up to be? Here’s an overview of various pro and cons based on recent research.
- Higher satisfaction and productivity: Employees who wore devices that helped track their health reported a 3.5 percent increase in job satisfaction and an 8.5 percent boost in productivity.
- More steps: A 2007 study found that participants who used pedometers were more physically active than those who didn’t wear the device. Another predictor of increased exercise they discovered? Setting a step goal that motivates you to move.
- Greater awareness: Wearables that keep track of day-to-day health statistics can help doctors and patients in other ways. For example, one man’s life was saved when ER doctors noticed abnormal heart behavior on his fitness tracker.
- Only minor improvements: While fitness trackers may lead to increased physical activity, one study concluded that it wasn’t enough to create significant changes in health.
- Less weight loss: Another found that participants wearing fitness trackers lost less weight than those who didn’t, though this could have been based on a number of factors.
- Short-term commitment: Nearly one-third of wearable device users stop after six months.
Determining the effectiveness of a fitness tracker ultimately lies with the wearer. If the competitive nature of a pedometer or other health-tracking device helps motivate you to move, all the more reason to wear it.