Health Promot Pract 2019 05 4;20(3):381-389. Epub 2018 Apr 4.
1 University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.
Background: Wearable physical activity (PA) trackers are becoming increasingly popular for intervention and assessment in health promotion research and practice. The purpose of this article is to present lessons learned from four studies that used commercial PA tracking devices for PA intervention or assessment, present issues encountered with their use, and provide guidelines for determining which tools to use.
Method: Four case studies are presented that used PA tracking devices (iBitz, Zamzee, FitBit Flex and Zip, Omron Digital Pedometer, Sensewear Armband, and MisFit Flash) in the field-two used the tools for intervention and two used the tools as assessment methods.
Results: The four studies presented had varying levels of success with using PA devices and experienced several issues that impacted their studies, such as companies that went out of business, missing data, and lost devices. Percentage ranges for devices that were lost were 0% to 29% and was 0% to 87% for those devices that malfunctioned or lost data.
Conclusions: There is a need for low-cost, easy-to-use, accurate PA tracking devices to use as both intervention and assessment tools in health promotion research related to PA.