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Surprising Science

Do Fitness Trackers Actually Work?

The latest trend today is sitting down to a meeting and noticing that the person across from you, and the person next to you, are wearing sleek plastic bracelets. You don’t ask about it, because you already did that once at a party and it led to a long discussion about an obsession that supposedly helps improve sleep quality and overall well-being. But do they? 

Do fitness trackers live up to the hype? Rachel Feltman at Quartz wore four different brands at once for 10 days to figure out if they’re even reliable. Her verdict: 

In general, I got much more out of the trackers than I thought I would. Wearing them spurred me to be more active throughout the day (insofar as walking to the farthest bathroom stall or a few blocks further for lunch counts as “more active”). Being tracked made me appreciate just how good for me a day running around town could be (check out my weekend spikes!), as well as just how sedentary I am at work. I did my experiment during a cold week, and I got sick partway through, so I was doing less “extra” walking than I usually do. Now I know what a lazy week looks like, and it isn’t too great. That’s useful, even if it’s not an insight I’d have paid more than $100 for.

So maybe there is something to the fitness tracker craze after all. Head over to Quartz to learn more about Feltman’s experience and recommendations. 


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