Your Fitness Tracker Won't Help You Lose Weight, But Who Cares?

Photographed by Molly Cranna.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that fitness trackers aren't exactly the key to a super-healthy lifestyle that they've been touted to be. It appears that using a fitness tracker does little to improve the weight-loss effects of a traditional diet-and-exercise routine — but that doesn't mean you should throw out your Fitbit.

For the study, researchers tracked 471 overweight or obese adults between the ages of 18 and 34 for two years. The participants were given a low-calorie diet and an exercise plan to follow, and were invited to attend group counseling sessions. Six months into the study, half of the group were given a Fit Core armband to use to track their progress, while the other half were told to continue keeping track on their own.

By the end of the two years, the group who simply dieted and exercised had lost an average of 13 pounds per person, while the group who used the tracker lost about seven pounds each. The researchers couldn't determine a clear reason why those who tracked their weight loss ultimately lost less, but they suggested that fitness trackers might give users an inflated sense of progress.

But before you toss your tracker, know this: Aside from weight loss, the study noted that both groups saw improvements in their overall fitness, diet, physical activity, and body composition. Which means that, while using a fitness tracker may not be guaranteed to give you a leg up, it doesn't seem to harm you in these important areas. So, if you're someone who gets motivated by tracking your healthy habits, there's no need to stop. A tracker can still have a pretty positive effect on your life — and in areas we'd argue are more important than weight loss, anyway.

More from Fitness

Sometimes getting motivated to exercise can be harder than the workout itself. That’s why it helps to think of your gym time as a middle school dance: ...
The benefits of yoga are constantly touted by fitness gurus and scientific researchers alike: practicing yoga has been linked to reducing stress, boosting ...
Working out's a LOT more fun when you can do it on your own terms, in your own crib, with your own tunes, and your own friends
When it comes to rock climbing, an all-or-nothing approach is key
Ashley Graham is breaking barriers. She's the first plus-sized model to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and she's served as our workout ...
In a move so fitting that we can’t believe we haven’t seen it already, ASOS teamed up with running shoe company Saucony to create glitter running ...
If you ask us, no workout is complete without a killer playlist — and running is no exception. Whether you prefer the trails or the treadmill, the right ...
(Paid Content) Normally, we celebrate getting into a fitness groove. It means that we've committed — on a pretty regular basis — to laying out workout ...
We may not all be able to keep up a daily diet of personal training, SoulCycle, and hot yoga. But there's a lot more to learn from celebrities' workout ...
Update: This story was previously published on Nov 21, 2015. Are you sitting down? Okay, take a minute to assess: Are you slouching in your seat? Are your...
Ah, the plank. Some version of it is used in virtually every type of fitness program, from CrossFit to calisthenics to yoga to pilates, and for good reason...
Maybe you're someone who appreciates the sturdiness of genuine leather. Perhaps you can't stand the idea of going to an hour-long vinyasa class without ...
Hailey Langland is a 16-year-old snowboarding star who believes that if you're not having fun doing something, it's not worth doing. "What sets me ...
People either love it or hate it, but one thing we can all agree on is that CrossFit can get intense. You're doing burpees and throwing around barbells, ...