Health sciences professor starts Fitbit research

Brian Snyder, health and exercise science professor, and five students are conducting a semester-long study to test if the use of wearable technology can be linked to an increase in physical activity for college students.

Technology can motivate people to increase their fitness according to a Berkelely Science Review article. The article states some features on Fitbits could be more motivating than others.

When people set reasonable goals and got reminders to exercise, more people were likely to follow through with them, and people can sustain their change in physical activity because they can monitor their progress along the way, according to the article.

Through his research, Snyder said the research team is hoping to answer if the features that come with Fitbits are worth the extra cost.

“A Fitbit is basically just a pedometer with some bells and whistles,” Snyder said. “It does pretty much the same thing.”

Snyder said he is examining four groups of students who use different types of wearable technology. He said students started the study for HLTH 349: Research Methods in Health Science. He said he and the research team want to see how the wearable technology will affect the students’ levels of physical activity.

Snyder said the study has 39 student participants, divided into four groups. The study includes a control group wearing accelerometers movement monitors that measure different levels of acceleration two pedometer groups that are given different goals to achieve an increase in physical activity, and a Fitbit group that will also have set goals but get the added features of the Fitbit.

With the four different groups involved in the study, Snyder said he is hoping to compare the pedometer and Fitbit groups to the control group to see if there is any deviation between them.

The control group will not get any feedback from their device. Snyder said this is because the researchers want to study the effects of wanting to get more physical activity without being able to track results on a device.

To read more about Snyder’s Fitbit research, see the Feb. 18 issue of the Index.