Randomized Trial of a Fitbit-Based Physical Activity Intervention for Women


      Direct-to-consumer mHealth devices are a potential asset to behavioral research but rarely tested as intervention tools. This trial examined the accelerometer-based Fitbit tracker and website as a low-touch physical activity intervention. The purpose of this study is to evaluate, within an RCT, the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of integrating the Fitbit tracker and website into a physical activity intervention for postmenopausal women.


      Fifty-one inactive, postmenopausal women with BMI ≥25.0 were randomized to a 16-week web-based self-monitoring intervention (n=25) or comparison group (n=26). The Web-Based Tracking Group received a Fitbit, instructional session, and follow-up call at 4 weeks. The comparison group received a standard pedometer. All were asked to perform 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Physical activity outcomes were measured by the ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer.


      Data were collected and analyzed in 2013–2014. Participants were aged 60 (SD=7) years with BMI of 29.2 (3.5) kg/m2. Relative to baseline, the Web-Based Tracking Group increased MVPA by 62 (108) minutes/week (p<0.01); 10-minute MVPA bouts by 38 (83) minutes/week (p=0.008); and steps by 789 (1,979) (p=0.01), compared to non-significant increases in the Pedometer Group (between-group p=0.11, 0.28, and 0.30, respectively). The Web-Based Tracking Group wore the tracker on 95% of intervention days; 96% reported liking the website and 100% liked the tracker.


      The Fitbit was well accepted in this sample of women and associated with increased physical activity at 16 weeks. Leveraging direct-to-consumer mHealth technologies aligned with behavior change theories can strengthen physical activity interventions.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to American Journal of Preventive Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Eliassen A.H.
        • Hankinson S.E.
        • Rosner B.
        • Holmes M.D.
        • Willett W.C.
        Physical activity and risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women.
        Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170: 1758-1764
        • Ratnasinghe L.D.
        • Modali R.V.
        • Seddon M.B.
        • Lehman T.A.
        Physical activity and reduced breast cancer risk: a multinational study.
        Nutr Cancer. 2010; 62: 425-435
        • Oguma Y.
        • Shinoda-Tagawa T.
        Physical activity decreases cardiovascular disease risk in women: review and meta-analysis.
        Am J Prev Med. 2004; 26: 407-418
        • Hsia J.
        • Wu L.
        • Allen C.
        • et al.
        Physical activity and diabetes risk in postmenopausal women.
        Am J Prev Med. 2005; 28: 19-25
        • Michie S.
        • Abraham C.
        • Whittington C.
        • McAteer J.
        • Gupta S.
        Effective techniques in healthy eating and physical activity interventions: a meta-regression.
        Health Psychol. 2009; 28: 690-701
        • Michie S.
        • Ashford S.
        • Sniehotta F.F.
        • Dombrowski S.U.
        • Bishop A.
        • French D.P.
        A refined taxonomy of behaviour change techniques to help people change their physical activity and healthy eating behaviours: the CALO-RE taxonomy.
        Psychol Health. 2011; 26: 1479-1498
        • Kurti A.N.
        • Dallery J.
        Internet-based contingency management increases walking in sedentary adults.
        J Appl Behav Anal. 2013; 46: 568-581
        • Washington W.D.
        • Banna K.M.
        • Gibson A.L.
        Preliminary efficacy of prize-based contingency management to increase activity levels in healthy adults.
        J Appl Behav Anal. 2014; 47: 231-245
        • Thompson W.G.
        • Kuhle C.L.
        • Koepp G.A.
        • McCrady-Spitzer S.K.
        • Levine J.A.
        “Go4Life” exercise counseling, accelerometer feedback, and activity levels in older people.
        Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014; 58: 314-319
        • Sallis J.F.
        • Haskell W.L.
        • Wood P.D.
        • et al.
        Physical activity assessment methodology in the Five-City Project.
        Am J Epidemiol. 1985; 121: 91-106
        • Haskell W.L.
        • Lee I.M.
        • Pate R.R.
        • et al.
        Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007; 39: 1423-1434
        • Shephard R.J.
        PAR-Q, Canadian Home Fitness Test and exercise screening alternatives.
        Sports Med. 1988; 5: 185-195
        • Freedson P.S.
        • Melanson E.
        • Sirard J.
        Calibration of the Computer Science and Applications, Inc. accelerometer.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998; 30: 777-781
        • Harris P.A.
        • Taylor R.
        • Thielke R.
        • Payne J.
        • Gonzalez N.
        • Conde J.G.
        Research electronic data capture (REDCap)—a metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support.
        J Biomed Inform. 2009; 42: 377-381
        • Winett R.A.
        • Tate D.F.
        • Anderson E.S.
        • Wojcik J.R.
        • Winett S.G.
        Long-term weight gain prevention: a theoretically based Internet approach.
        Prev Med. 2005; 41: 629-641