Weight loss of 1 kg may not seem like much, but the researchers say that from a public health point of view, it is significant.
“Keeping in mind that these were not weight loss studies, but lifestyle physical activity studies, so we would not expect dramatic weight loss. “said co-author Professor Carol Maher.
“The average person gains around 0.5kg per year in weight loss, so losing 1kg over five months is significant.”
Between 2014 and 2020, the number of wearable activity trackers shipped globally grew by around 1,444%, with around £2.3 billion spent globally on them in 2020.
In addition to weight loss, there is evidence that fitness trackers help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and conditions partially caused by a lack of exercise including heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2 and mental illnesses.
“The other reported benefit is that WATs improved depression and anxiety through increased physical activity,” Ferguson said.
Previous studies have found that wearable activity trackers do little to improve fitness levels, as users either return to previous exercise levels after the novelty wears off – or stop wearing them altogether.
They also argued that because activity readings for fitness trackers can vary widely for the same amount of exercise, the data could not be taken seriously for medical purposes.
Some users have commented on how activity trackers make them obsess over their exercise levels.
The report states: “Physical activity outcomes consistently improved in children, young adults, adults and older adults, with similar effect sizes. The beneficial effects for body composition were apparent in a range of populations, including healthy adults and those who are obese.”