HEADLINES Published January10, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

Fitness Trackers Help With Weight Loss

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An array of new fitness monitors, also called activity trackers, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
(Photo : Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

It is the New Year and most people are already several days into their plans to lose weight and exercise more. Many are hoping that electronic devices called fitness trackers can help them do both by keeping track of their activity and motivating them to do better. Fitness trackers are also called exercise or activity monitors or, more formally, a tri-axial accelerometers. But do these devices help?

A study conducted at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, found that wearing a fitness tracker can help people become more active. Adding the use of a fitness tracker to a reduced-calorie diet and structured exercise program can help people increase their physical activity and keep off any pounds, they reported. The devices work by helping people monitor how active they are and become more aware of their different daily activities in addition to their scheduled exercise sessions.   

Researchers at Wake Forest studied 48 people aged 65 to 78 who were obese and divided them into two groups. Each group was enrolled in a 5-month-long low-calorie diet and exercise plan and a 5-month long follow-up. One group was given a fitness tracker that was worn on the hip and that recorded how many minutes of physical activity they each had all day long, not just during the exercise sessions.

The group that used the fitness trackers lost more weight during the first 5-months of the program and regained less of that weight during the 5-month follow-up period, the researchers found. This group tended to have higher levels of light physical activity that they performed in addition to their exercise sessions.

The fact that the fitness tracker group kept off the weight they lost is important because regaining weight after a low-calorie diet and exercise program is very common, the researchers noted. They concluded that fitness trackers may be a way for people to sustain their weight loss

The study was published in the journal Obesity.

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