BACKGROUND: Physical activity for the majority of individuals is below recommended levels despite strong evidence of its significant health benefits. Activity tracker devices present as a promising and affordable tool to help promote physical activity and active choices. Additionally, young adults present as an ideal age group to implement behavior change interventions. OBJECTIVE: To determine what features of activity tracker hardware and software are helpful in motivating active choices. METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 149 participants ranging in age from 18-29 years old who wore an ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer for one week. They then continued to wear the accelerometer in addition to a randomly assigned activity tracker (Apple Watch, Fitbit Surge, Basis Peak, or Microsoft Band 2) for an additional week. They also used the corresponding app for their activity tracker. Participants filled out a survey about their experience at the end of the study RESULTS: Overall hardware rating (p = 0.162) and overall software rating (p = 0.125) did not differ between the four devices. Degree of motivation of the hardware (p = 0.177) and software (p = 0.120) was also similar for all the activity trackers. There were 625 positive comments made about tracker hardware with the majority of these comments concerning mode options (n = 149), other (n = 94), and battery (n = 79). There were 287 positive software comments with the majority in the categories of other (n = 78) and information (n = 68). CONCLUSIONS: The analyses of our data did not show a significant difference between devices in any category. Furthermore, results indicated a high number of positive comments for both hardware and software overall. Users also reported device hardware and software to be personally motivating.



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physical activity, activity tracker, motivation, young adults, motivational features, electronic activity tracker, physical activity



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