Are Activity Wristbands Effective To Achieve Physical Goals?

Exercising regularly is a way to maintain physical fitness and lead a healthy life. Therefore, many people practice some sports activities or discipline. They also use new technologies to measure the intensity of the day and track performance about time, calories consumed, pulse, and other specifications.

With these results, generated by devices such as activity wristbands, users are oriented and can obtain some estimates to improve the techniques and performance.

However, for some experts and researchers, the results obtained through these measurements on the activity wristbands do not emit reliable data, being its impractical use to improve the quality of physical exercise.

The control of activity wristbands gives the user the idea of carrying a more controlled physical condition. Even many people who use them claim that there are benefits and performance improvements.

Two studies published in 2016 challenge this belief. According to the research, activity wristbands would work as a placebo effect, but they don’t bring benefits or improvements to performance, nor do they optimize physical fitness.


The studies in the spotlight

One of the investigations published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology made its study for a year and a half. To obtain the results, several tests were applied in 800 subjects aged between 21 and 65 years.

These subjects were differentiated into four groups. The first acted as a control group and did not receive any instrument, while the other three were given a Fitbit bracelet. Likewise, groups three and four were given an additional stimulus, informing that they would obtain money directed to charity.

During the time of control of the groups, each yielded diverse results. The second team was able to cover 8,550 steps, while the third, which would receive money, reached 11,010 steps, and the fourth obtained 9,280 steps per day.

According to the researchers, none of the participants in the study had to perform additional physical activity. In this regard, Eric Finkelstein, head of the research and attached to the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, said the activity increased by 16 minutes per week. However, it was not the bracelet’s use that prompted the subjects studied to lose weight or improve their blood pressure.

For this investigation, Finkelstein said the 800 subjects received, during the first six months, an economic incentive to walk a specific number of steps, which was between 50,000 and 70,000, except for the control group, who were unaware of this reward.

For the subsequent six months, individuals could select whether or not they wished to use the bracelet, but without financial compensation. After this change, 40% of the participants gave up the research for the first six months of the year, and only 10% of the total was able to finish the study.  

Likewise, the participants belonging to group three who had the bracelet and the economic remuneration showed positive results about the steps. It was these subjects who walked the most during the first months of payment. Later, its activity was reduced considerably.

Based on the results, Professor Finkelstein indicated that achieving improvements and health benefits is possible if motivational strategies are applied for long periods.


More research

A second study on the effectiveness of these bracelets was published by Jama magazine. According to this research, the scientists concluded that the use of activity wristbands does not encourage weight loss.

This investigation lasted two and a half years. It involved 470 subjects from 18 to 35 years of age, with the variant that they suffered from obesity.

For the experiment, scientists divided people into two groups, one analog and one digital. Some had to write down their advances and activities in a notebook, while the other half had the bracelet’s technology. They were assigned a diet according to their weight and height.

They were also given an exercise routine that consisted of 100 minutes per week, and then increased and reached 300 minutes for the beginning of the fourth week.

As stated in the investigation, subjects with the analog modality arrived with an average weight of 95.2 kilos and ended up with a weight of almost six kilos less. Meanwhile, the “digital” people started the study with a weight of 96.3 kilos and concluded with 92.8 kilos. That is, they lost a total of 3.5 kilos in the two years of the experiment.

After analyzing the results, the researchers concluded that there is no reason to think that these technological devices positively influence health or weight loss. The subjects studied at the time of the investigation under the analog modality presented greater weight loss than those who used the activity wristbands.



As we have seen, both studies concluded that activity wristbands are not an effective method to lose weight. However, they are devices that increasingly gain more ground in the sports market, and many trust them. In part, seeing them as a mechanism to take control allows them to improve habits, lose weight, and increase performance and performance in the activity that is executed.

The truth is that activity bracelets are not miraculous. People must meet the objectives, and these devices are only a guidance system that can be used to keep track. However, each individual’s discipline and perseverance will lead to reaching the goal of weight and musculature.

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