January is a time when many people make resolutions – and then break them. Almost 60 percent of Americans will resolve to exercise more, but fewer than 10 percent will stick with their resolution. A key to keeping resolutions is ensuring they are measurable, and a simple way to track activity is through a wearable smartwatch or fitness tracker. Indeed, almost one in five adults has used a fitness tracker.
Wearable fitness trackers can also help improve medical care by providing insights into physical activity, heart rate, location, and sleep patterns. My research team uses wearable fitness tracker data with smart home sensors to help older adults live safely and independently. We also study wearable fitness tracker data along with electronic medical records and genomic data to investigate the causes of gestational diabetes. Many other researchers utilize wearable fitness trackers to better understand how lifestyles can impact health.