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Devices to monitor personal health: an opportunity for student research

fitbit ice cream beach me 2

Taunting my Fitbit

Inspired by David Sedaris’ tale in The New Yorker (he cheerfully combines healthy exercise with compulsive litter picking) I decided to invest in a Fitbit. This neat little wrist band has the facility to record the number of steps you take in any given day, as well as monitoring some aspects of sleep duration and quality.

Many people now use Fitbits to monitor their health, and use the companion website (and various apps and add-ons) to record dietary, drinking and other health behaviours. An Apple device that promises to record the same data and more is due out in spring 2015.

Health psychology trainees starting this autumn are well placed to design studies exploring the impact of Fitbit and other personal health monitoring devices. US users can already sign up to earn material rewards for their physical activity. If the same incentives were introduced in the UK, how effective might they be in motivating behaviour change? 

The Fitbit can only record a limited range of data at present, and users have to enter honestly any deviations from their planned dietary schedule.  If the Fitbit doesn’t know, do the calories still count 😉 ?

Carol P

 


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