Within the next six years, wearable fitness devices are predicted to become a $12 billion market.
It’s no wonder, really. These days, you can’t go anywhere without noticing a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other piece of technology strapped to someone’s wrist.
Every now and then, I’ll hear someone joke about their quest to log at least 10,000 steps a day. That is, what’s the point of walking if their device isn’t fully charged and firmly secured to their body at all times?
There are many reasons why people buy these devices. But arguably the most-common is to lose weight. The thinking goes something like, "Well, if I can see my daily activity, then I’ll automatically become motivated to stop eating that extra piece of pizza or to start making it to the gym more frequently."
What really happens is that these wearable fitness devices give people a false sense of achievement — that by just wearing this little band on your wrist, the world can see how "healthy" and "active" you are.
Then you trick yourself into thinking this is the truth.
Now, of course this isn’t the case for everyone.
For some people, these devices really do help them succeed in their fitness goals.
But on average, you may be better off sticking to traditional and proven weight-loss tactics.
Because a new study from the University of Pittsburgh showed that wearable devices that monitor physical activity are not reliable tools for weight loss.
The study was done over a two-year period. At completion, researchers observed that usage of a wearable device in combination with a behavioral weight-loss program resulted in less weight loss … when compared to those receiving only the behavioral weight-loss program.
In fact, participants without physical activity trackers showed nearly twice the weight-loss benefits at the end of the 24 months.
Those subjects who wore the wearable devices reported an average weight loss of 7.7 pounds, while those who partook only in health counseling reported an average loss of 13 pounds.
"While usage of wearable devices is currently a popular method to track physical activity — steps taken per day or calories burned during a workout — our findings show that adding them to behavioral counseling (for) weight loss that includes physical activity and reduced calorie intake does not improve weight loss or physical activity engagement.
"Therefore, within this context, these devices should not be relied upon as tools for weight management in place of effective behavioral counseling for physical activity and diet," said John Jakicic, the study’s lead researcher and chair of Pitt’s Department of Health and Physical Activity.
As I said, these devices are really good at tricking you into believing that — just by wearing them — you’re somehow putting in work equal to maintaining a healthy diet and effective training program.
If you’re someone who wears a fitness tracker, it’s probably the best course of action to track your results with and without the device to see which lifestyle is personally more-effective for you.
Please let us know your experiences with wearable fitness devices by leaving a comment below.
Happy and healthy investing,