Impact of Wearable Technology on Physical Activity, Fitness, and Health Outcomes in College Students with Disabilities


School of Science Technology and Health

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Physical activity (PA) in the United States progressively continues to decline despite research highlighting the importance of an active lifestyle. Particularly, recommended levels of PA are associated with reduced risk for a large number of negative, yet preventable health conditions in apparently healthy populations. Unfortunately, individuals who report having one or more disabilities perform far less PA than their apparently healthy counterparts. While technological advancements such as wearable devices to monitor PA have become popular, few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of wearable technology-based interventions on increasing PA levels and improving health outcomes in college students and individuals with disabilities. Thus, the purposes of this investigation were (1) to evaluate if providing a Fitbit PA tracking device to college students with disabilities would increase PA and improve health outcomes such as cardiovascular (CV) fitness and body composition, and (2) to investigate whether the addition of health education sessions would provide additional benefits. A total of 24 participants (27 ± 7 years) were given a Fitbit and had their PA monitored over twelve weeks. Group randomization was conducted where one group received only the Fitbit (FO) and a second group where participants also received health education sessions (E+F). Pre and post physiological assessments were also conducted. No significant group*time interactions were observed. Significant increases in mean treadmill duration and VO2peak occurred from pre to post. Mean daily steps in the E+F group were significantly higher than the FO group (8134 ± 441 vs. 7581 ± 577, respectively). Twelve weeks of Fitbit usage was effective in increasing CV fitness in individuals who identified as having one or more disabilities. Considering the lack of a significant improvement in health outcomes by the addition of educational programming the use of a Fitbit alone may be sufficient to improve CV fitness in this population.


Disabilities; Students with disabilities

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Journal of Physical Activity Research





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