Weight Loss, Fitness Technology, and Lifestyle Change
Achieving weight loss goals isn’t possible using only one method. Dieting without exercise won’t work. Exercising without changing your diet won’t work. And neither of these things will work, at least not long term, without making the necessary lifestyle changes. Our fitness and health has become digitalized due to our demand for instant information, deeper analysis, and better guidelines. We’re an “instant” society and fitness technology fits right in. So what are the results when we combine the exercise and nutrition and lifestyle changes suggested by our fitness technology?
Fitness technology business is booming. In a study done by Juniper Research, the marketing outlook shows estimated advertising for wearables reaching $68.7 million by 2019. Research from IDTechEX shows the market for fitness technology will grow approximately 23% yearly, reaching over $100 billion by the year 2023 and over $150 billion by 2026. In other words, fitness and health technology is going nowhere but up.
To test theories relating effective weight loss to diet, technology and lifestyle changes, many studies have been conducted. One such study, done in 2016, set out to compare standard behavioral weight loss intervention with technology-enhanced weight loss intervention. The objective was to see if the technology-enhanced intervention resulted in greater weight loss. In this randomized clinical trial participants were put on a low-calorie diet, instructed to follow a set regime of physical activity and participated in group counseling sessions. At the 6-month mark participants in the standard intervention method began self-monitoring their diet and exercise using a website. The participants in the enhanced intervention method were given a wearable device to wear, along with an accompanying web interface with which to monitor their diet and exercise. The conclusion of this study showed that the usage of a wearable fitness device by the standard behavioral intervention group resulted in less weight loss over 24 months. To summarize, monitoring devices that provide feedback on physical activity may not offer any measurable advantage over standard behavioral weight loss methods. (Please note this study used participants who were between 18 and 35 years old.)
Fitness and Health Apps
In another study, researchers took a closer look at the efficacy of weight loss apps. Using a free app called MyFitnessPal, researchers studied how people make and maintain lifestyle and habit changes and how those changes related to successful weight loss. The participants were overweight middle-aged women, divided into two groups. One group used the app and the other did not use the app but consulted with a primary care doctor. The study’s findings were that both groups lost weight, an average of 5 pounds. Again, no notable advantages were provided by fitness technology.
Future fitness and health technology will undoubtedly be able to provide motivation, at least of a sort, for example, coaching, gamification, and social motivation. The desired ideal is technology that can analyze your data and, within a short time frame, decide which method of motivation boosts that you, personally, need in order to meet fitness goals.
Fitness and health technology can definitely be very useful for people who are already motivated to make changes in their diet, physical activity, and lifestyle. This motivation generally cannot be provided by technology. You must make a commitment to the lifestyle changes and you must make a commitment to actually use the app consistently and correctly.
- The Best Weight Loss Program – Weight Watchers
- The Best App-Based Program – Noom
- The Best Standalone Diet – The Mayo Clinic Diet Book
As always, SplitFit recommends starting with the basics:
- Consult with your health care provider first and foremost!
- Start with a basic exercise regime that includes strengthening and conditioning exercises.
- Begin with a basic diet using the portions, foods, and percentages recommended by the US food pyramid.
- Make the necessary lifestyle changes such as the cessation of smoking, limiting alcohol, paying attention to your mental and emotional health as well as physical, getting the socialization you need, nurturing important relationships, etc.
- Then begin narrowing down your workouts, diet, and lifestyle to address target areas of concern.
Lastly and most importantly, find what motivates YOU, what gets YOUR blood pumping, what urges YOU on to achieving YOUR life, fitness and health goals. Take advantage of today’s health and fitness technology, such as wearables – trackers, monitors, etc. – to gain insight into your physical and physiological needs, but don’t expect technology to do the above-mentioned steps for you – those steps require the irreplaceable human touch!
Image Credit: Raging Topics