Activity monitors 'are only useful when users set goals for themselves'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Using activity monitors as an aid for improving physical fitness is unlikely to be effective unless the user sets specific goals for themselves.

This is according to a new study from Oregon Health and Science University, which offered evidence that the use of activity monitors does not automatically make users more active or healthy, but can have an impact when paired with clearly defined objectives.

“Physical activity monitors are only useful in promoting healthier lifestyles when users set specific goals they wish to achieve, according to a new study.“

The study followed more than 400 healthy adults, most of whom were office workers, over the course of six months, with their physical fitness levels tracked every minute with the use of wrist-worn activity monitors.

It was shown that people using these monitors without a specific goal in mind actually saw a decline in their physical activity, with their heart health failing to improve, despite 57 percent of subjects thinking their activity had increased.

As such, it was recommended that people wishing to get more of a benefit should consult a medical professional to establish goals catered to specific health needs.

Dr Luke Burchill, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the university's school of medicine and Knight Cardiovascular Institute, said: "To make activity trackers effective, users need to set a specific goal and stick with it. When paired with activity goals ... these trackers can be powerful tools for increasing physical activity."

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