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Exercise & Fitness
Do activity trackers make us exercise more?
- By Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
Activity trackers can do more than ever before. They can measure your heart rate, heart rhythm, blood oxygen levels, calories burned, and the number of minutes you spend exercising or sleeping. They can "talk" to your smartphone or smart gym machines and connect you to workout videos, recipes, or guided meditation. Do trackers get you to move more? Studies of this question have been mixed. But an analysis published in the August 2022 issue of Lancet Digital Health found that wearing a tracker does seem to be a motivator. Scientists evaluated data from almost 400 studies from around the world, involving 164,000 people of all ages and varying health. Taken together, the findings suggested that trackers encouraged people to walk 40 more minutes per day, resulting in about two pounds of weight loss per person in about 5 months. There was also some evidence that wearing a tracker was linked to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The findings don’t prove conclusively that trackers triggered the increased activity. But it won’t hurt you to use one, and it may even motivate you to work out more.
Image: © Westend61/Getty Images
About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Starting to Exercise
What can improve your mood, boost your ability to fend off infection, and lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer? The answer is regular exercise. It may seem too good to be true, but it's not. Hundreds of studies demonstrate that exercise helps you feel better and live longer. Starting to Exercise answers many important questions about physical activity. It will also help guide you through starting and maintaining an exercise program that suits your abilities and lifestyle.
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