Behavior change techniques found in electronic activity trackers, says study

Electronic activity trackers such as FitBit or Jawbone have many of the functionalities necessary to promote healthy lifestyle changes, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Researchers reviewed the capabilities of 13 commercially available electronic activity trackers. All of the trackers included feedback provisions and goal-setting abilities, and alerted the user to discrepancies between current and goal behaviors. The majority focus on the user's past successes and allow users to compare their results to others. Several offered action planning or gave users a reward for meeting goals.

These features can help modify user behavior for the better, according to the researchers. "Many of these techniques are associated with successful physical activity and/or weight loss, and implementation of most of the techniques adhered closely to theory-based recommendations," they wrote.

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