Benefits of Using a Pedometer / Activity Monitor

For sedentary workers an activity monitor may be the key to helping you take charge of your health and improve your fitness.  A study performed in 2004 by researchers at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island  showed that the use of an activity monitor by individuals with sedentary jobs  results in an increase in activity that has significant health benefits, such as lower BMI, decreases in waist girth and decreases in resting heart rate.

A more recent study performed at Boston University was described recently on Dr. Andrew Weil’s blog website. In this study it was found that symptoms of arthritis of the knee began to improve, and disability could be prevented, if the person increased rather than decreased their activity levels. The level of increase was tracked with activity monitors and it was found that at about 6,000 steps per day the arthritis began to improve. Of course, the starting daily step goals would need to be adjusted depending on level of fitness so this would have to be worked out with advice from your doctor.

Another recent study asked the following question “Do wearable lifestyle activity monitors really work?” . In this study researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston analyzed 13 different activity monitors to determine if their feature sets were appropriate for effective lifestyle modification.  The summary  conclusion of this study was as follows, “Electronic activity monitors contain a wide range of behavior change techniques typically used in clinical behavioral interventions. Thus, the monitors may represent a medium by which these interventions could be translated for widespread use. This technology has broad applications for use in clinical, public health, and rehabilitation settings.”

One interesting twist on the use of activity monitors is termed “energy balance intervention”  Because obesity is linked to higher rates of carcinogenisis and diabetes, investigators at the Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Texas  took a closer look at how energy balance interventions related to diet and activity modification affect specific response pathways such as the insulin/IGF-1/Akt pathway. The goal was to find the mechanism behind obesity related carcinogenisis, in order to find targets for prevention.

Because the price is a bit high for a wearable activity monitor (about $100 for a Fitbit device) , I have been using the activity tracker that is built into my smart phone.  However, after digging into the above research and noting that the market predictions for activity monitors  indicate growth in revenue from 2 to 3 billion dollars over the next five years, I think it is time to bite the bullet and jump into the fray.

What do you think?


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