Research Impact:  Physical activity trackers have the potential to help people to become, stay and increase physical activity. It can provide quantification of movement which is necessary to keep the body, mind and social circles healthy. The design of these trackers were created with the adult in mind as the end user, and despite adolescents are part of the digital native generation, there are few studies that have examined the use of the PA trackers among adolescents.

In this study, we used the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity (CSPPA) 2018 data as well as the Finnish equivalent – Finnish School-aged Physical Activity Study (F-SPA). Both surveys were designed to have national representation, and included items about PA trackers, and PA among young adolescents. The data were pooled together where possible and cases from the CSPPA 18 data file were removed where it could not be matched (i.e. older than 15y, use of pedometers). We then examined if clusters of ownership and usage of PA trackers were the same across the two settings and then run inferential statistics to test the associations between PA trackers and levels of physical activity, membership of sports club, and active transport, after adjusting for country, age, family affluence, and disabilities.

Two thirds of adolescents in Ireland reported that they do not own a PA tracker through mobile apps. This result clearly indicates that young Irish adolescents do not know how to use the default apps on Apple and Android phones to track PA or they do not own a smart phone. There were stronger associations with levels of PA, member of sport clubs or take part in active transport (walk or cycle) when the student has specific PA tracker, such as a sports watch or heart rate monitor, than students who reported to not have PA trackers.

This study provides the first overview of PA trackers among Irish adolescents. The reach of the adoption of wearables needs to be further investigated in terms of more monitoring of surveying and guidance on using wearables. The potential for PA trackers is large to encourage and monitor individuals’ daily physical activity patterns.

Ng, K., Kokko, S., Tammelin, T., Kallio, J., Belton, S., O’Brien, W., Murphy, M., Powell, C. and Woods, C., 2020. Clusters of Adolescent Physical Activity Tracker Patterns and Their Associations With Physical Activity Behaviors in Finland and Ireland: Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research22(9), p.e18509.  DOI: 10.2196/18509

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