(Article originally published on Time by Mandy Oaklander)
Fitness trackers are ubiquitous, on the wrists and in the Happy Meals of thousands of Americans. But the latest evidence suggests that they don’t do much to motivate people to move more.
Turns out, it’s really hard topersuade people to exercise—even when they have access to how many steps they’ve taken, and even when they get paid for it.
In the new yearlong study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, researchers randomized 800 people in Singapore who had a full-time job into four groups. Some wore a Fitbit Zip and were paid a small amount of money to get moving—which they were instructed either to keep or to donate to charity—while others didn’t wear Fitbits. Researchers measured their physical activity, weight, blood pressure, the body’s ability to use oxygen (called cardiorespiratory fitness) and their self-reported quality of life.
For the last six months of the study, all incentives were dropped, and people could choose whether or not to continue wearing their fitness trackers. (About 40% of people had stopped wearing it in the first six months anyway.)
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