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In people with rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal diseases, wearable activity trackers increase activity
Davergne T, Pallot A, Dechartres A, et al. Use of Wearable Activity Trackers to Improve Physical Activity Behavior in Patients With Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2019;71:758-67.
In people who have rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal diseases, do wearable activity trackers increase activity and improve symptoms?
Physical activity has positive effects on health and wellness and reduces risk for mortality. People with rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal diseases are often less physically active.
It is uncertain whether wearable activity trackers monitored by users can increase physical activity and improve symptoms in people with rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal diseases.
How the review was done
The researchers did a systematic review, searching for studies that were published in English from 2000 to May 2018. They found 15 randomized controlled studies with 1,393 people.
The key features of the studies were:
- the average age was 56 years and most people were women;
- people had osteoarthritis, low-back pain, or chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease;
- wearable activity trackers tracked the wearers’ movements and/or biometric data, had the objective of increasing physical activity, and were worn on wrists or waists;
- wearable activity trackers were compared with other interventions, education, or usual care; and
- studies continued for 4 weeks to 1 year.
What the researchers found
Most people were very good at using the wearable activity trackers as instructed during the studies (e.g., people wore wrist activity trackers 93% of the time for 10 weeks).
Compared with control, wearable activity trackers:
- increased the number of daily steps people took;
- increased the amount of time people spent doing moderate to vigorous activity; and
- did not affect pain, disability, functioning, quality of life, or fatigue.
In people with rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal diseases, wearable activity trackers increase physical activity.
Effects of wearable activity trackers vs control in people with rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal diseases*
7 studies (463 people)
Activity trackers increased the number of daily steps by a large amount (1,520 more steps per day than the control group).†
Moderate to vigorous physical activity
3 studies (117 people)
Activity trackers increased the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity by a small amount (16 more minutes per day than the control group).
A group that receives either no treatment or a standard treatment.
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.
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