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Wearing a fitness tracker makes you walk this much more a day

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Fitness woman checking time on smart watch.
(Mix Tape via Shutterstock)

By Pol Allingham via SWNS

Simply wearing a fitness tracker makes you walk for 40 minutes extra every day, shedding two pounds in just a few months, scientists have shown.

The study, involving 164,000 people, showed that the relatively low-cost intervention could help get people off the sofa and on their feet more.

A team from the University of South Australia reviewed almost 400 studies and demonstrated wearable activity trackers (WATs) could prevent a host of health conditions caused by lack of exercise.

A third of English people are obese, and other health conditions include cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and mental illness.

The estimated worldwide healthcare cost of these conditions is £12.5bn.

The researchers said that 40 minutes more exercise, or 1,800 steps, can result in 1kg (2.2 lb) weight loss over five months.

The average person gains about 0.5kg (1 lb) a year in creeping weight, making losing 1kg significant.

Doctoral student Ty Ferguson, lead researcher of the study published in Lancet Digital Health said there is widespread skepticism about WATs’ efficacy, accuracy and whether they fuel obsessive behaviors and eating disorders, despite their popularity.

But the actual evidence for WATs is overwhelmingly positive.

He said: “Wearable activity trackers are effective across all age groups and for long periods of time.

“They encourage people to exercise on a regular basis, to make it part of their routine and to set goals to lose weight.

“The other reported benefit is that WATs improved depression and anxiety through an increase in physical activity."

Professor Carol Maher, co-author of the review, added: “Bearing in mind these were not weight loss studies, but lifestyle physical activity studies, so we wouldn’t expect dramatic weight loss.

“The average person gains about 0.5 kg a year in weight creep so losing 1kg over five months is significant, especially when you consider that two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese.”

Between 2014 and 2020, the number of wearable activity trackers shipped worldwide increased by an estimated 1,444%, with around £2.3bn spent globally on WATs in 2020.

As well as weight loss, there is evidence fitness trackers help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve depression and anxiety.

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