Effectiveness of wearable devices as a support strategy for maintaining physical activity after a structured exercise intervention for employees with metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial

BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2022 Feb 10;14(1):24. doi: 10.1186/s13102-022-00409-1.


Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events and high socioeconomic costs. Despite lifestyle interventions focusing on exercise are effective strategies to improve parameters of the above aspects, many programs fail to show sustained effects in the long-term.

Methods: At visit 2 (V2) 129 company employees with diagnosed MetS, who previously participated in a 6-month telemonitoring-supported exercise intervention, were randomized into three subgroups for a 6-month maintenance treatment phase. A wearable activity device was provided to subgroup A and B to assess and to track physical activity. Further subgroup A attended personal consultations with individual instructions for exercise activities. Subgroup C received neither technical nor personal support. 6 months later at visit (V3), changes in exercise capacity, MetS severity, work ability, health-related quality of life and anxiety and depression were compared between the subgroups with an analysis of variance with repeated measurements.

Results: The total physical activity (in MET*h/week) declined between visit 2 and visit 3 (subgroup A: V2: 48.0 ± 33.6, V3: 37.1 ± 23.0; subgroup B: V2: 52.6 ± 35.7, V3: 43.8 ± 40.7, subgroup C: V2: 51.5 ± 29.7, V3: 36.9 ± 22.8, for all p = 0.00) with no between-subgroup differences over time (p = 0.68). In all three subgroups the initial improvements in relative exercise capacity and MetS severity were maintained. Work ability declined significantly in subgroup C (V2: 40.3 ± 5.0, V3: 39.1 ± 5.7; p < 0.05), but remained stable in the other subgroups with no between-subgroup differences over time (p = 0.38). Health-related quality of life and anxiety and depression severity also showed no significant differences over time.

Conclusions: Despite the maintenance of physical activity could not be achieved, most of the health related outcomes remained stable and above baseline value, with no difference regarding the support strategy during the maintenance treatment phase. Trial registration The study was completed as a cooperation project between the Volkswagen AG and the Hannover Medical School (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02029131).

Keywords: Company employees; Maintenance; Metabolic syndrome; Physical activity; Sustainability; Telemonitoring; Wearable device; Work ability.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02029131