Improving your health through behavior change is important to your overall well being, but changing your behavior is not an easy task. Finding the right balance of activity, sleep, stress management, and nutrition that can help you be at your best, while balancing all that life brings is difficult. There’s no silver bullet. This also makes health behavior change typically hard to measure, difficult to track, and easy to ignore. All of these factors can make it difficult for people to maintain the energy and enthusiasm to get started and keep their momentum.
But hope is not lost! A recent analysis of over 37 different studies found that the use of a Fitbit device in programs designed to aid healthy behavior change resulted in a statistically significant increase in daily steps and moderate physical activity (as well as a decrease in weight) compared to programs that did not include Fitbit.
This study highlights what we have long known at Fitbit—that our devices and services (including our Fitbit Premium paid membership program) help users work towards their health goals. For example, 73 percent of users who had a weight loss goal on Fitbit, lost weight within the first six months of weight tracking. That’s because we make it easier to measure your behaviors, reward you for your progress, and give you social support and motivation to reach your goals—all of which can contribute to your success.
Here at Fitbit, we are dedicated to helping you overcome challenges and help you change your behavior. Enter our newest service, Fitbit Premium + Health Coaching. If simply using a Fitbit helps improve health outcomes, imagine what you can achieve when that health and wellness data is shared with someone dedicated to helping you achieve your goals.
Offering even more support for healthy behavior change, Premium + Health Coaching participants receive seamless support from a human health coach, right in the Fitbit app. Coaches help individuals understand their current behaviors and motivations for change as well as their barriers to success. Coaches work with users to set achievable goals that are customized to the individual—focusing on small, step-wise, measurable goals with specific time expectations.
Coaches also support users in sticking with their plan through the everyday challenges they face—from finding time during a busy work week to fit in activity or eating healthy in a family full of picky eaters or even finding ways to reduce stress during a global pandemic. Coaches can also see participant data from the Fitbit app and communicate through secure text messages all in the Fitbit app to help them stay or get back on track. Throughout their journey, coaches help users to reflect on their progress, working together to make adjustments to their shared plan. Reaching health behavior change goals requires persistence and iteration, and coaches provide the expertise, accountability and empathy that participants need to navigate this journey.
To measure the impact of the Premium + Health Coaching service, we recently conducted a 6-month, randomized controlled trial. The study compared outcomes between participants in a group that had access to the Premium + Health Coaching and a group that did not. (Participants in both groups had a Fitbit tracker or smartwatch, and a Fitbit scale.) The assignment of participants to the two groups was random (like flipping a coin) in order to avoid any bias in the results.
Throughout the course of 6 months, the results are clear. The group that had access to and used the Premium + Health Coaching service:
- Increased their activity (an average of 470 more steps per day than the standard group and 1.6 more active minutes per day)
- Decreased their resting heart rate (an average of 0.82 more beats per minute reduction)
- Decreased their weight (an average of more than twice as much weight as the standard group)
In addition to measuring positive, physical changes, participants were also asked about their perceptions of their success, their motivations to change, and their confidence. More than those in the standard Fitbit app, participants using Premium + Health Coaching recognized that they improved their health behaviors across activity, nutrition, and stress management, as well as their health outcomes of weight, body shape and size, and overall health.
They also had greater levels of motivation and confidence in improving all of these health behaviors and outcomes. Recognition of benefits that can’t be directly measured are another important factor in a user’s motivation and confidence, which are also important to continued success.
Less than 4 weeks into this study, the COVID-19 pandemic sent most of the United States into lockdown. At the beginning of the lockdown, Fitbit users on average took 1,500 steps/day less than they did in January 2020. Throughout the lockdown, users from all age gender groups managed to increase their step counts from that drastic dip and closed the gap between their step counts and seasonal normal values. By June, users 65 and older are back to the expected levels of activity. However, the younger users still had a gap (almost 1000 steps/day for 18-29 Female users and less dramatic for other age gender groups). When this study concluded in August, Coronavirus was still ebbing and flowing throughout the U.S. yet participants who had worked with a coach still reported feeling confident to manage their stress. That coupled with an overall increase in steps above the standard group, says volumes about the health impact of having a coach.
With the addition of Premium + Health Coaching, Fitbit users now have multiple paths to succeed in reaching their goals. They can use the free Fitbit app with a Fitbit device, which provides a critical foundation for success, all while making the process fun and engaging. Or they can add on the Premium + Health Coaching service to receive additional support and accountability, which helps boost improvements while helping build confidence and motivation.
As we continue to build services for our users to help them be healthier, Fitbit will continue to measure the impact of its solutions so that it can continue to enhance their effectiveness.
¹ Based on aggregated and anonymized Fitbit user data between Jan 1, 2014 – Oct 15, 2018 for all Fitbit users who tracked their weight at least once a week.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.