Activity Trackers Work Best with Wellness Coach

Posted 01/02/2017 | By HealthCorps

Recent studies have suggested that activity trackers do not miraculously help with weight loss or exercise commitment.  It takes a unique person to really use the trackers and get the most from the motivation that the product is supposed to provide.  A new study suggests that if you use a tracker with a wellness coach, you will gain the most benefits.

With the New Year starting, now is a good time to think about a new plan if you need to lose weight or improve your health.  Exercise is one tool to that can help you to achieve those goals.  This new study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, suggests that despite the recent findings that activity trackers are not necessarily prodding additional weight loss or better health (because most people misuse them or abandon using them), adding a wellness coach can make a big difference.

The study focused on:

  • How people use trackers.
  • How trackers actually affect behaviors.
  • How trackers can be incorporated into programs that help people to move more and accumulate minutes of exercise.

Over a two year period, 173 employees at IU School of Public Health (152 women, 21 men) participated in the study which looked at how the employees, paired up with student coaches did, while wearing Fitbits.  Each ten week period involved student coaches helping their adult partners to establish a baseline number of steps they would like to achieve daily.  The adults then used the Fitbit to meet and surpass their goals, increasing movement during the day.  At the end of the ten weeks, participants said they used the trackers as a reminder and motivator, but they also agreed that working with the student coaches helped them to develop appropriate and achievable health and fitness goals.  Ninety percent of the participants also shared that the coaching plus fitness tracker helped them to sustain the commitment to fitness after the original coaching ended.

The researchers observed that combining the coaching with the tracker enabled the participants to see movement as “beyond just gym time,” with movement throughout the day counting towards their goals.  This motivated the employees to move much more during their workday.  It actually opened up a whole new way of thinking with regards to accumulating fitness moments.  The researchers credited the addition of the coaching to the tracker use.

If you are considering buying yourself or a loved one a fitness tracker, or want to re-start using one that you already have, consider pairing it with some sessions with a personal trainer or lifestyle coach.  You will likely benefit from the pairing.

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