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Interest and preferences for using advanced physical activity tracking devices: Results of a national cross-sectional survey

Objectives: Pedometers are an effective selfmonitoring tool to increase users' physical activity. However, a range of advanced trackers that measure physical activity 24 hours per day have emerged (eg, Fitbit). The current study aims to determine people's current use, interest and preferences for advanced trackers. Design and participants: A cross-sectional national telephone survey was conducted in Australia with 1349 respondents. Outcome measures: Regression analyses were used to determine whether tracker interest and use, and use of advanced trackers over pedometers is a function of demographics. Preferences for tracker features and reasons for not wanting to wear a tracker are also presented. Results: Over one-third of participants (35%) had used a tracker, and 16% are interested in using one. Multinomial regression (n=1257) revealed that the use of trackers was lower in males (OR=0.48, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.65), non-working participants (OR=0.43, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.61), participants with lower education (OR=0.52, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.72) and inactive participants (OR=0.52, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.70). Interest in using a tracker was higher in younger participants (OR=1.73, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.58). The most frequently used tracker was a pedometer (59%). Logistic regression (n=445) revealed that use of advanced trackers compared with pedometers was higher in males (OR=1.67, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.79) and younger participants (OR=2.96, 95% CI 1.71 to 5.13), and lower in inactive participants (OR=0.35, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.63). Over half of current or interested tracker users (53%) prefer to wear it on their wrist, 31% considered counting steps the most important function and 30% regarded accuracy as the most important characteristic. The main reasons for not wanting to use a tracker were, 'I don't think it would help me' (39%), and 'I don't want to increase my activity' (47%). Conclusions: Activity trackers are a promising tool to engage people in self-monitoring a physical activity. Trackers used in physical activity interventions should align with the preferences of target groups, and should be able to be worn on the wrist, measure steps and be accurate.








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B M J Group, UK

Additional Rights

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


External Author Affiliations

University of Greifswald, Germany; University of Alberta; The University of Newcastle

Era Eligible



BMJ Open