The trouble with fitness gadgets

In Nike’s Fuelband app, hitting your Fuel goal earns you a tiny 3D-animated character dancing around on your screen. Rewards!

Fitness- and life-tracking gadgets were some of the most ubiquitous products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Companies that weren’t into it before joined up; companies that had failed at it were getting back in the ring; and companies with proven success showed no sign of flagging.

As these life-tracking devices and services race toward commodity status, it’s worth asking whether they actually, well, work. As a motivator, they can be great initially. But lots of the trackers have novelty, which I can attest to from my time spent comparing a few fitness-tracking bracelets. I didn’t realize how few steps I took on days that I didn’t make the effort to work out, and I was fascinated to see the graphs of my sleep and wake times from past nights.

The effectiveness of the data “reward”

There is some science to back up the efficacy of these trackers. One small study at Indiana University showed even a simple pedometer helped participants lose an average of 2.5 pounds over 12 weeks and significantly increased participants’ active hours.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

via Ars Technica


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