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Effect of interventions using physical activity trackers on physical activity in people aged 60 years and over: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Juliana S Oliveira1,
  2. Cathie Sherrington1,
  3. Elizabeth R Y Zheng1,
  4. Marcia Rodrigues Franco2,
  5. Anne Tiedemann1
  1. 1 Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Physiotherapy, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Minas Gerais, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Juliana S Oliveira, Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2035, Australia; juliana.oliveira{at}


Background Older people are at high risk of physical inactivity. Activity trackers can facilitate physical activity. We aimed to investigate the effect of interventions using activity trackers on physical activity, mobility, quality of life and mental health among people aged 60+ years.

Methods For this systematic review, we searched eight databases, including MEDLINE, Embase and CENTRAL from inception to April 2018. Randomised controlled trials of interventions that used activity trackers to promote physical activity among people aged 60+ years were included in the analyses. The study protocol was registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42017065250.

Results We identified 23 eligible trials. Interventions using activity trackers had a moderate effect on physical activity (23 studies; standardised mean difference (SMD)=0.55; 95% CI 0.40 to 0.70; I2=86%) and increased steps/day by 1558 (95% CI 1099 to 2018 steps/day; I2=92%) compared with usual care, no intervention and wait-list control. Longer duration activity tracker-based interventions were more effective than short duration interventions (18 studies, SMD=0.70; 95% CI 0.47 to 0.93 vs 5 studies, SMD=0.14; 95% CI −0.26 to 0.54, p for comparison=0.02). Interventions that used activity trackers improved mobility (three studies; SMD=0.61; 95% CI 0.31 to 0.90; I2=10%), but not quality of life (nine studies; SMD=0.09; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.25; I2=45%). Only one trial included mental health outcomes and it reported similar effects of the activity tracker intervention compared with control.

Conclusions Interventions using activity trackers improve physical activity levels and mobility among older people compared with control. However, the impact of activity tracker interventions on quality of life, and mental health is unknown.

  • physical activity
  • walking
  • aging/ageing

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  • Contributors JSO, AT and CS conceived the study and JSO, AT, CS, MRF contributed to study design. JSO coordinated the literature search and data collection with assistance from ERYZ. JSO, AT, CS contributed to data analysis and interpretation of the data. JSO drafted the manuscript, and all authors contributed to revisions and approved the final manuscript. JSO is the guarantor for the study.

  • Funding JSO is supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Brazil. CS and AT hold research fellowships from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.