The idea of walking 10,000 steps per day dates back to 1965 in Japan with the release of the manpo-kei pedometer (or “10,000 steps meter”). This step goal is still considered the “goal standard” with the fitness trackers we have downloaded to our phones or wear on our wrists and even around our fingers.

With all this data about our activity levels, are we changing our behaviors at all? While the study on the impact of fitness trackers on our behavior is still in its infancy, studies suggest no, people do not change their behaviors just because they’re wearing a fitness tracker. In fact, a 2016 Gartner study found that one-third of people who buy a fitness tracker stop using it in 6 months.

But don’t toss your activity tracker just yet! There is a key to adjusting activity habits.

Create a community around activity.

Being able to sync, log activities and interact with other participants is imperative in motivating and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits. And a friendly little team step challenge doesn’t hurt either.

A study led by a Penn State psychologist determined social competition and achievable goal setting are among the top two motivators to get people to move, along with accessibility to challenges, rewards and/or environmental supports. Imagine this, you take an average of 5,000 steps a day and you’re supposed to double that to 10,000 steps. Daunting, right? That’s why it’s important to select a challenge with a step goal you know is achievable and supports social encouragement along the way.

According to the above study, “The social components available in [fitness] devices have the potential to foster a greater sense of teamwork within the workplace… In one study, fitness trackers increased productivity and decreased the amount of sick days taken, suggesting the powerful potential if adopted by more companies. Fitness trackers have the potential to improve the well-being of employees, while also being useful in increasing productivity and workplace happiness, which is beneficial for both employees and employers.”

Do you use your activity data to motivate yourself or a portal to get others to move more? We recently discussed 5 ways to motivate and end apathy in the workplace. Do you have any additional tips to keep moving?

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