Valuable steps ahead? Engagement and satisfaction with a wearable activity tracker matter for successful self-regulation


  • L. Fleig
  • L. Stühmann
  • M.C. Ashe
  • A.T. Ernsting
  • M. Schneider


Background: Wearable activity trackers such as the Fitbit are promising interventions to increase physical activity in the workplace. One question that emerges is how individuals’ engagement, perceived support, and satisfaction with such a device align with the evidence- and theory-based social cognitions (e.g., intentions, planning) that have been shown to promote physical activity. Methods: This study presents secondary analyses of data obtained from a larger trial. A total of 104 employees of a German pharmaceutical company (40 to 76 years old, 83.9 % men) received a complimentary activity tracker (i.e., Fitbit One) and completed three self-report surveys on physical activity (T1, T3), theory-based, social-cognitive (i.e., intentions, T1; action planning, T2) and Fitbit specific variables (i.e., perceived support, engagement and satisfaction with tracker, T2). Moderated mediation analyses was conducted to examine whether the translation of intentions into behaviour via plans was moderated by individuals’ perception of and interaction with the wearable device. Baseline physical activity served as covariate. Findings: Individuals were more likely to translate their intentions into behaviour via plans if they perceived their activity tracker as supportive, and were highly satisfied and engaged with their tracker. Overall, the Fitbit specific and physical-activity related predictors explained nearly one third of the variance in activity behavior (R2=.32/engagement, .29/satisfaction, .35/support). Discussion: The results deliver preliminary support that wearable activity trackers are an emerging solution for supporting individuals in their self-regulation. Most importantly, how individuals perceive and interact with a wearable activity tracker seems to be key for successful self-regulation and behaviour change.





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