Research: Personal activity trackers help with weight loss.

Research wordResearch word

Personal activity trackers, when combined with online tracking, may assist with weight loss.

Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa

The market is exploding with personal activity trackers, such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit, to meet your exercise tracking needs. Gone are the days of a simple pedometer. Today, you can find them in all kinds of shapes and sizes and they will track everything from the calories burned to heart, rate, pulse, and hours of sleep. If you can’t find one to meet your needs, you are not looking hard enough.

The question you might have is whether they actually work at improving fitness and weight loss. The good news is that there is increasing evidence to supports the use of them to promoting weight loss. Programs such as My Fitness Pal and Lose It allow users to track their meals and sync with quite a few commercially available physical activity trackers with a goal to enhance weight loss outcomes.

The new research from 2020 looked at the effectiveness of allowing participants to pair a personal activity tracker within existing online programs​[1]​. Data was collected over a 4-yr period included demographic self-report, objective weight data uploaded when participants weighed themselves at a self-serve program kiosk available to the community, and program engagement data.

The researchers determined that participants who paired their activity trackers were more likely to be women, African Americans, and have a higher BMI. Those who paired an activity tracker more often lost on average an extra 1% body weight and were 1.4 times more likely to lose 5% body weight. Pairing an activity tracker was related to other indices of online program engagement and both, directly and indirectly, contributed to better weight loss outcomes.

The bottom line: Pairing a personal activity tracker with an online weight loss program appears to have assisted with weight loss. Usage appeals to wide group of the worlds population. The usage of these devices to track exercise can predict improvements in weight loss. More studies are needed to examine the role of additional factors that may affect the data, but clearly this data is promoting. I would recommend using a personal activity tracker.


  1. [1]
    K. E. Wilson, S. M. Harden, L. Kleppe, T. McGuire, and P. A. Estabrooks, “The Impact of Pairing a Wearable Movement Tracker with an Online Community Weight Loss Intervention,” Translational Journal of the ACSM, pp. 29–38, Feb. 2020, doi: 10.1249/tjx.0000000000000116. [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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