Smartphone fitness apps and wearable activity trackers do help boost physical activity levels, finds a review and pooled data analysis of the available evidence, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The size of the effect is small to moderate, but it may be worth offering them on prescription to motivated patients, given the importance for health of increasing daily physical activity by any amount, say the researchers.
Globally, more than a quarter of adults don’t meet recommended physical activity levels. Physical inactivity represents a leading cause of death worldwide and is thought to cost billions of dollars every year.
Some of the most effective strategies to increase physical activity include behaviour change techniques, such as self-monitoring and feedback, which smartphone apps and wearable activity trackers can provide.
Smartphone ownership is widespread, with activity trackers and fitness apps used by around a third