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Yes, we all got Fitbits for Christmas, but how should you use them?

In response to a recent study on the health benefits of Fitbits when paired with specific health goals, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) wants to encourage Australians to seek advice from an accredited exercise professional to establish the best exercise goals for their individual needs.

"Keeping active is significantly important for all aspects of our physical and mental health," notes Ms Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

"ESSA wants to encourage those looking to improve their health with physical activity trackers to speak with an exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Scientist or Accredited Exercise Physiologist, who is suitably qualified to work with you to develop an exercise plan."

Despite 57 percent of the 431 study participants thinking their activity had actually increased, the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that using the activity monitors without a specific health goal led to a decline in physical activity, and heart health also did not improve.

Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Carly Ryan, explains that although the research shows us that activity trackers are effective when a specific goal is set, determining a suitable exercise goal can be tricky if you've not exercised before.

"First you need to consider what is important to you and what will have a positive impact on your mental and physical health and well-being. Do you want to lose weight, get stronger, or just maintain a healthy lifestyle?"

By speaking with an Accredited Exercise Scientist or Accredited Exercise Physiologist, they can help identify and prescribe suitable exercises to meet your health needs and outline specific exercise goals monitored by your activity tracker.

"When paired with exercise goals – such as 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day or 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week – these trackers can be powerful tools for increasing physical activity and improving your overall health," adds Ms Ryan.

The tracker helps to improve your health by encouraging individual accountability and motivation through providing quantifiable information about whether you are sticking to your plan, as well as real time reminders.

"You just need to ensure that your goals are realistic to your health needs and that you're exercising right for you and your well-being."

To speak to your local exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Scientist or Accredited Exercise Physiologist, visit the ESSA website.



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