Can a tracker or smartphone app help you move more?

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Published: March, 2021

Wearable activity or fitness trackers and smartphone apps are helpful for goal setting and measuring how many steps you take or how much time you spend exercising. But do they motivate you to become more active? Probably a little, finds a review of randomized controlled trials published online Dec. 21, 2020, by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers combed through 28 studies that included a total of more than 7,400 adults (ages 18 to 65) who used fitness trackers or apps for an average of three months. Compared with people who did not use the devices, people who did increased their activity by 1,850 steps per day. Apps and trackers that included prompts and cues to stay active appeared to be most effective. If your smartphone doesn't already have a built-in basic fitness tracker that counts your steps and calories burned, you can find an app that does. Some are free. Fancy tracking devices, with all the bells and whistles, including heart rate monitors and cellphone capability, cost as much as $1,300. But even the simplest ones help remind you to move.

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