‘Physical activity monitors have some role in increasing activity by 10 minutes a day’

An interesting article on Diabetes diet blog highlighted the use of physical activity monitors. I do not have one, but many family members have smart watches or some sort of physical activity monitor. I often wonder are they of any use? Do they increase the amount of exercise you do? Do they make you fitter?

Well, there was recently a systematic review which looked at 121 RCTs (randomised control trials) covering 16,743 participants.

They found that there was a small but definite improvement in physical activity when people wore the trackers.

Physical activity increased by ten minutes a day. This was equivalent to 1,235 daily steps and works out at an additional 48.5 minutes a week.

Do you have one? Do you find it useful? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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“Effectiveness of physical activity monitors in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis


lenses To estimate the effectiveness of physical activity monitor (PAM) based interventions among adults and explore reasons for the heterogeneity.

design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Study selection The electronic databases MEDLINE, Embase, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched on 4 June 2021. Eligible randomized controlled trials compared interventions in which adults received feedback from PAMs with control interventions in which no feedback was provided. No restrictions on type of outcome measurement, publication date, or language were applied.

Data extraction and synthesis Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Random effects meta-analyses were used to synthesize the results. The certainty of evidence was rated by the Grading of Recommendations Assessment and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.

Main outcome measures The three primary outcomes of interest were physical activity, moderate to vigorous physical activity, and sedentary time.

results 121 randomized controlled trials with 141 study comparisons, including 16,743 participants, were included. The PAM based interventions showed a moderate effect (standardized mean difference 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.28 to 0.55) on physical activity, equivalent to 1235 daily steps; a small effect (0.23, 0.16 to 0.30) on moderate to vigorous physical activity, equivalent to 48.5 weekly minutes; and a small insignificant effect (−0.12, −0.25 to 0.01) on sedentary time, equal to 9.9 daily minutes. All outcomes favored the PAM interventions.

conclusions The certainty of evidence was low for the effect of PAM based interventions on physical activity and moderate for moderate to vigorous physical activity and sedentary time. PAM based interventions are safe and effectively increase physical activity and moderate to vigorous physical activity. The effect on physical activity and moderate to vigorous physical activity is well established but might be overestimated owing to publication bias.”

Above words and full report can be seen here

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All the best Jan

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