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An activity tracker.

With the increase in popularity of activity trackers, Dr Nicola Lasikiewicz and Dr Annie Scudds, from the School of Psychology, are looking into the effectiveness of wearing the devices. The first stage of their research, ‘I Wear a Fitbit; Therefore, I Am a Bitfit? Exploring the Impact of a Fitbit Device on Exercise and Work-Related Wellbeing’, has recently been published in the Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science.

The study explored the potential for a Fitbit to increase engagement in exercise and to moderate the effect of exercise on work-related wellbeing in full-time workers. Participants recorded their work-related wellbeing and physical activity for two consecutive weeks, one wearing a Fitbit.

Dr Lasikiewicz said: “Firstly, and unexpectedly, participants exercised less when wearing a Fitbit. We think that this may be a form of something called ‘moral licensing’ which means that participants think that by visibly wearing a Fitbit they are doing enough activity and are perceived by others to be ‘active’. Another example of this is the use of fitness clothing or ‘active wear’.

“Second, the Fitbit had an interesting impact on wellbeing. For example, participants reported feeling frustration when they did not wear the Fitbit but were exercising. In contrast, participants felt greater demand or pressure when wearing the Fitbit but were not able to exercise.

“However, Fitbit wear was also associated with greater work-related satisfaction, regardless of whether they had engaged in exercise that day.”

Dr Scudds added: “Originally, we predicted that wearing a Fitbit would increase physical activity and consequently improve wellbeing. However, it turns out that the effects of wearing a Fitbit are much more complex than previously thought.

“Activity trackers’ popularity continues to increase with a forecasted market value of $114.36bn in 2028. Yet, something as popular as these devices may not always have the expected effects. This leads to more interesting questions about who wearable activity trackers work well for, as well as when and how they can be most useful and effective. This is something that we are now exploring.”

Their latest study examines the relationships between physical activity engagement, especially when using a wearable activity tracker, motives for exercise, and how important exercise is to the wearer. 

Anyone who uses a wearable activity tracker and would like to take part in this research can fill in an online survey, which takes about half an hour, at:

To read the ‘I Wear a Fitbit; Therefore, I Am a Bitfit? Exploring the Impact of a Fitbit Device on Exercise and Work-Related Wellbeing’ paper in full, please visit:

The results will also be discussed in a talk at Storyhouse in Chester on February 13, from 7.30pm, as part of Chester Scibar events. For more details, please keep an eye on:

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