Scott Conger, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, published “Spending More Money But Moving Less” in the American Kinesiology Association newsletter. Conger’s co-authors include Penny McCullagh, Kinesiology Today editor.
The article gives an overview of Conger’s 2022 research where he analyzed movement records from 1995 to 2017 using wearable fitness tracker data. Results indicated that movement levels are decreasing across the board, but mostly in adolescents. Increased screen time and less active commuting, such as walking or bike riding, has likely contributed to the decline in physical activity. Conger did take into account that certain physical activities – swimming, weight training, and cycling – may not have been measured by the trackers.
Conger added that the sales of fitness trackers have increased dramatically, but physical activity has continued to decline.
Fitness trackers do have an important role in that measuring and recording health trends make people more aware of their daily activity and health. Being aware of activity levels is the first step for users to improve their health, and that “several additional factors such as goal setting, self-monitoring, positive feedback and social support” are crucial to improving physical fitness, Conger said.