Harvard Women's Health Watch

How fitness trackers can improve your health

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The wearable electronic devices may motivate you to stick to a diet or exercise plan.

If you've resolved to get more exercise, lose weight, or get more sleep in 2016, then a host of wearable electronic devices and apps are available to help you succeed. They will gently prod you to work toward your goal, encourage you along the way, and praise you when you get there. The gadgets record your activity, while the apps interpret the results and send you frequent messages to let you know how well you're progressing.

And they seem to be effective, according to a small study. A randomized controlled trial of 51 overweight postmenopausal women found that those who wore a digital tracker exercised 38 minutes more a week than those who used pedometers. The results, published in the September 2015 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, aren't too surprising to Dr. Lauren Elson, a physiatrist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "I have several patients who are using them successfully to get started on a walking program or to remind them when they are sitting too long," she says.

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