Are you one of the many thousands of people who has invested in a piece of fitness technology or fitness tracker app in recent years? If so, you might want to read on…
I have been a Dietitian for over 20 years and have observed the many nutritional changes and fads (fitness technology) that come and go. However, over the past two years, I have noticed an increasing but new reason as to why my clients are requesting advice for weight loss and healthy eating.
They are coming to me totally confused and despondent. After originally embarking on a positive health change themselves, making a conscious effort to track their food and exercise, they have found instead of weight loss and health; additional weight gain and sluggishness from the commencement of using the gadget or app they purchased one to two years previous.
Doing a little investigation, I am not alone in these findings and a research paper from JAMA September 20, 2016, entitled: ‘Effect of Wearable Technology Combined With a Lifestyle Intervention on Long-term Weight Loss: The IDEA Randomized Clinical Trial‘, found that the group selected to wear technology did not lose as much weight as the group who followed regular advice and exercise. Interesting indeed.
As always, there are various factors involved behind research findings and as expected, limitations. However, what I took from this study in particular was the time factor: it was monitored for a full 24 months. Other studies have shown different results with 9 months or 6 months but when looking at a full two years, the study highlights that using technology doesn’t provide all the answers and the results are disappointing.
So what now with fitness technology?
Well, it is not time to throw out the technology just yet! What is however important to focus on – and what I feel is the most important element – is support. I know with my own personal health and well-being, if I did not belong to a running group I would not run the length of myself!!
I do believe that support is still the foundation to success and people benefit from either individual or group support when needing advice and change. I’m sure like me you have all tried to do something new or different; from watching cooking shows, to learning an instrument. If teaching yourself, it is a really big challenge and commitment. Our self-doubt and often our over ambitious desires can derail our smallest but valid attempts and efforts.
Putting this into something useful for you going forward….
Support is important, and one size does not fit all. Technology can only contribute to a portion of the puzzle when it comes to health. The watch may say ‘500 kcals burned’ but has your body the capability to metabolise at the rate the watch is set at?
If you are not getting results you need to seek a personalised assessment and plan.
For me the bottom line is this… whatever group or individual you choose, you need to know they have evidence to back up what they are providing. The support needs to be realistic, enjoyable and you need to be comfortable to see this advice through for the rest of your life. Knowing you are not alone and that you have expert support as required is golden.
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Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018 and Jan 2021.
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