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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Wearable Sensor/Device (Fitbit One) and SMS Text-Messaging Prompts to Increase Physical Activity in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

  • Author(s): Wang, Julie B
  • Cadmus-Bertram, Lisa A
  • Natarajan, Loki
  • White, Martha M
  • Madanat, Hala
  • Nichols, Jeanne F
  • Ayala, Guadalupe X
  • Pierce, John P
  • et al.

Studies have shown self-monitoring can modify health behaviors, including physical activity (PA). This study tested the utility of a wearable sensor/device (Fitbit(®) One™; Fitbit Inc., San Francisco, CA) and short message service (SMS) text-messaging prompts to increase PA in overweight and obese adults.Sixty-seven adults wore a Fitbit One tracker for 6 weeks; half were randomized to also receive three daily SMS-based PA prompts. The Fitbit One consisted of a wearable tracker for instant feedback on performance and a Web site/mobile application (app) for detailed summaries. Outcome measures were objectively measured steps and minutes of PA by intensity using two accelerometers: Actigraph™ (Pensacola, FL) GT3X+ (primary measure) at baseline and Week 6 and Fitbit One (secondary measure) at baseline and Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.Mixed-model repeated-measures analysis of primary measures indicated a significant within-group increase of +4.3 (standard error [SE]=2.0) min/week of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA (MVPA) at 6-week follow-up (p=0.04) in the comparison group (Fitbit only), but no study group differences across PA levels. Secondary measures indicated the SMS text-messaging effect lasted for only 1 week: the intervention group increased by +1,266 steps (SE=491; p=0.01), +17.8 min/week MVPA (SE=8.5; p=0.04), and +38.3 min/week total PA (SE=15.9; p=0.02) compared with no changes in the comparison group, and these between-group differences were significant for steps (p=0.01), fairly/very active minutes (p<0.01), and total active minutes (p=0.02).These data suggest that the Fitbit One achieved a small increase in MVPA at follow-up and that the SMS-based PA prompts were insufficient in increasing PA beyond 1 week. Future studies can test this intervention in those requiring less help and/or test strategies to increase participants' engagement levels.

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