Randomized Trial of a Fitbit-Based Physical Activity Intervention for Women

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Sep;49(3):414-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.01.020. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


Introduction: Direct-to-consumer mHealth devices are a potential asset to behavioral research but rarely tested as intervention tools. This trial examined the accelerometer-based Fitbit tracker and website as a low-touch physical activity intervention. The purpose of this study is to evaluate, within an RCT, the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of integrating the Fitbit tracker and website into a physical activity intervention for postmenopausal women.

Methods: Fifty-one inactive, postmenopausal women with BMI ≥25.0 were randomized to a 16-week web-based self-monitoring intervention (n=25) or comparison group (n=26). The Web-Based Tracking Group received a Fitbit, instructional session, and follow-up call at 4 weeks. The comparison group received a standard pedometer. All were asked to perform 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Physical activity outcomes were measured by the ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer.

Results: Data were collected and analyzed in 2013-2014. Participants were aged 60 (SD=7) years with BMI of 29.2 (3.5) kg/m(2). Relative to baseline, the Web-Based Tracking Group increased MVPA by 62 (108) minutes/week (p<0.01); 10-minute MVPA bouts by 38 (83) minutes/week (p=0.008); and steps by 789 (1,979) (p=0.01), compared to non-significant increases in the Pedometer Group (between-group p=0.11, 0.28, and 0.30, respectively). The Web-Based Tracking Group wore the tracker on 95% of intervention days; 96% reported liking the website and 100% liked the tracker.

Conclusions: The Fitbit was well accepted in this sample of women and associated with increased physical activity at 16 weeks. Leveraging direct-to-consumer mHealth technologies aligned with behavior change theories can strengthen physical activity interventions.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01837147.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / methods*
  • Actigraphy / methods*
  • Aged
  • Equipment Design
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01837147