Using Novel Technology within a School-Based Setting to Increase Physical Activity: A Pilot Study in School-Age Children from a Low-Income, Urban Community

Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:4271483. doi: 10.1155/2017/4271483. Epub 2017 Dec 3.


Background: Less than half of American children meet national physical activity (PA) recommendations. This study tested the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of using wearable PA monitors to increase PA in school-age children.

Methods: In Phase 1 of this study, conducted in 2014, 32 fifth-grade students enrolled in a low-resource middle school were given a waist-worn Fitbit Zip monitor for 4 weeks to test its feasibility (adherence) and acceptability. Adherence, wear time of ≥8 hours per day, was examined. Feedback was solicited from parents through structured interviews. In Phase 2, conducted in 2015, 42 sixth-grade students were assigned, by classroom, to one of three conditions (Fitbit + goal and incentive-based intervention, Fitbit only, or control) to test the feasibility of the wrist-worn Fitbit Charge and its preliminary effectiveness in increasing PA over 6 weeks.

Results: In Phase 1, average adherence was 64.1%. In Phase 2, it was 73.4% and 80.2% for participants in the Fitbit + intervention and Fitbit only groups, respectively (p = .07). After controlling for baseline values, weight status, and sex, there were no significant group differences in changes in MVPA or steps from baseline to follow-up.

Conclusions: While moderately acceptable, wearable PA monitors did not increase PA levels in this sample. They may be more effective within a coordinated school-based physical activity program.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty
  • San Francisco
  • Students
  • Urban Population*
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*