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Tracking physical activity: Problems related to running longitudinal studies with commercial devices

Harrison, D., Marshall, P., Berthouze, N. and Bird, J. (2014). Tracking physical activity: Problems related to running longitudinal studies with commercial devices. In: UbiComp '14 Adjunct: Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing: Adjunct Publication. (pp. 699-702). New York, NY, United States: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ISBN 9781450330473


The problems with inactive and sedentary lifestyles are widely recognised. People believe that activity tracking systems, such as the Fitbit, may aid them in meeting recommended levels of physical activity. Similar systems have been the subject of previous research, but many of these studies were conducted over a short-term and some results may be attributable to reactivity or novelty effects. We ran a longitudinal mixed-methods effectiveness study using the Fitbit Zip activity tracker with 50 participants. In this paper we present two main challenges experienced during this study: the unreliability of the device and a lack of engagement by some of the participants. The issues we experienced can help inform the design of future studies.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors.
Publisher Keywords: Quantified self; pedometer, activity tracker, personal device, fitness, health, Fitbit, behaviour change, physical activity, in the wild
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Departments: School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering > Computer Science
Date available in CRO: 24 Mar 2017 16:43
Date deposited: 24 March 2017
Date of first online publication: 1 January 2014
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