News / Edmonton

Lots of people own Fitbits, not that many people use them: study

Edmonton researcher says almost half of Albertans own a physical activity tracker, but many leave them at home.

'More people need to be more active, more often,'- Nora Johnston, director of the Alberta Centre for Active Living

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

'More people need to be more active, more often,'- Nora Johnston, director of the Alberta Centre for Active Living

Physical activity trackers—think Fitbits—are an increasingly popular way to monitor your fitness.

The catch? You have to actually use them.

According to the 2017 Alberta Survey on Physical Activity about 38 per cent of Albertans own trackers—but only half of those actually use them.

Nora Johnston, director of the Alberta Centre for Active Living, said people often buy trackers in a short-lived commitment to fitness before throwing in the towel, in the same way that people tend to abandon New Years resolutions. 

It’s a problem, she said, given how little exercise most people get.   

“We in Alberta need a culture change so physical activity becomes the norm,”

Johnston said. “Every hour people should get up and move.”

According to the Centre’s data, only 57 per cent of Albertans get enough physical activity, and one third sit for 10 or more hours a day.

The study found that while Fitbits, apps, and smartwatches can motivate people, they’re not enough.

Johnston encourages people to think outside the gym.

“People equate working out with going to the gym, but taking my dog for a 30 minute walk every morning is good physical activity. Even dancing in your kitchen is good for your heart.”

“More people need to be more active, more often.”

This is the first year the annual study has looked at the role of fitness trackers.