People who wear a fitness device walk 40 minutes more each day compared to those who do not wear an activity tracker, academics have said.

Scientists from the University of South Australia have found that activity trackers, smart watches and pedometers encourage people to move more.

According to the researchers, wearable fitness devices motivate people to walk an extra 1,800 steps per day.

The findings show that people who walk 40 minutes longer than usual per day for five months can lose up to 1kg in weight.

As part of the research trial, the team of academics analysed around 400 studies that looked at the physical outcomes of wearable activity trackers.

Their results highlight that fitness devices increase an individual’s exercise uptake, which can combat the development of some health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, mental illness and type 2 diabetes.

However, there has been criticism surrounding wearable activity trackers, with some people saying they fuel eating disorders.

First author Ty Ferguson said: “The overall results from the studies we reviewed shows that wearable activity trackers are effective across all age groups and for long periods of time.

“They encourage people to exercise on a regular basis, to make it part of their routine and to set goals to lose weight.”

Co-author Professor Carol Maher said: “Bearing in mind these were not weight loss studies, but lifestyle physical activity studies, so we wouldn’t expect dramatic weight loss.

“The average person gains about 0.5 kg a year in weight creep so losing 1kg over five months is significant, especially when you consider that two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese.”

In 2020, around $2.8 billion was spent around the world on wearable activity trackers, data has shown.

The results show that fitness devices can also reduce blood pressure and cholesterol amongst people with type 2 diabetes.

Professor Ferguson added: “The other reported benefit is that wearable activity trackers improved depression and anxiety through an increase in physical activity.”

The study has been published in The Lancet Digital Health.

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