Digital apps and activity trackers promise an alluring, innovative solution for improving health—and many people plunk down big bucks for one, hoping it’s just the thing to (finally) get them off the couch. But do these gadgets really work? Or are they just today’s equivalent of expensive treadmills and weight machines gathering dust in the basement?
If a device makes you pay attention to your patterns, that’s a good sign. “Gaining awareness is the first step in making any healthy change,” says Tarini Anand, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula Health Services internal medicine physician. For example, “apps and activity devices are excellent for keeping a daily log of the exercise you do and each meal or snack you eat. That can make you more mindful of what you’ve done daily and help you jump-start changes.”