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

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Adapted from BMJ 29 Jan 2022

Like many other people I eventually bought a smart watch. I was a late adopter of this but after visiting my son in London, and seeing what a benefit it would be to scan in and out of the tube with a device, I got one just over a year ago. Many people had already been tracking their steps, heart rate and sleep schedules with these. So, are they of any use?

This was a systematic review which looked at 121 RCTs (so many!) 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.

To put this into context, I work out in different modalities for about this time every day, so it is like the equivalent of working out 8 days a week instead of 7.

Although this level of increased activity is unlikely to make much difference to your weight, what may do is a broadening of referral sources to the UK NHS online weight management programme. Community Pharmacists are now allowed to refer patients to the programme, instead of just GPs.

The course is 12 weeks long. You can join if you are in the obese category (BMI 30 or over), or if you are overweight (BMI 25 and over) and have hypertension, or type 2 diabetes. If you are of ethnic minority you can join if your BMI is 27.5 or over because you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Entrants to the scheme are currently 5 pounds heavier on average compared to pre-covid pandemic weights.

2 thoughts on “Physical activity monitors have some role in increasing activity by 10 minutes a day”

  1. It has helped me walk so much more than before I got it. Why does that work? Because I get tired of the women in my Fitbit group embarrassing me.


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