Effectiveness of Wearable Trackers on Physical Activity in Healthy Adults: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Matilda Swee Sun Tang, Katherine Moore, Andrew McGavigan, Robyn A. Clark, Anand N. Ganesan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Wearable trackers are an increasingly popular tool among healthy adults and are used to facilitate self-monitoring of physical activity. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to systematically review the effectiveness of wearable trackers for improving physical activity and weight reduction among healthy adults. METHODS: This review used the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) methodology and reporting criteria. English-language randomized controlled trials with more than 20 participants from MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, PubMed, and Scopus (2000-2017) were identified. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they reported an intervention group using wearable trackers, reporting steps per day, total moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, activity, physical activity, energy expenditure, and weight reduction. RESULTS: Twelve eligible studies with a total of 1693 participants met the inclusion criteria. The weighted average age was 40.7 years (95% CI 31.1-50.3), with 64.4% women. The mean intervention duration was 21.4 weeks (95% CI 6.1-36.7). The usage of wearable trackers was associated with increased physical activity (standardized mean difference 0.449, 95% CI 0.10-0.80; P=.01). In the subgroup analyses, however, wearable trackers demonstrated no clear benefit for physical activity or weight reduction. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that the use of wearable trackers in healthy adults may be associated with modest short-term increases in physical activity. Further data are required to determine if a sustained benefit is associated with wearable tracker usage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15576
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

©Matilda Swee Sun Tang, Katherine Moore, Andrew McGavigan, Robyn A Clark, Anand N Ganesan. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 22.07.2020. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mhealth.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.


  • healthy adults
  • physical activity
  • randomized controlled trials
  • wearable activity tracker


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