AARP Wants Better Fitness Trackers for Seniors

For several years, fitness trackers such as the Jawbone and Fitbit have helped people monitor their activity and its effect on their body. They are used to track movement, heart rate, sleep patterns, and nutrition (if that data is inputted), and use this information to set goals. Fitness trackers, for seniors in particular, offer an excellent frame of reference for how healthy (or not) we are.

Recently, a new study revealed that seniors think fitness trackers are useful, but insufficient in features and functionality. The study, called Project Catalyst, was a result of collaboration between the AARP, Georgia Tech, Pfizer, MedStar Health and UnitedHealthcare. It observed nearly 100 seniors over age 50 with fitness trackers from a variety of the most popular brands.

“Subjects said the trackers were difficult to calibrate, frequently lost data, and were not packaged with seniors in mind,” according to a report on the study from The Longevity Network. The subjects wanted “to easily measure biometric data such as blood sugar and heart rate, and sport bands that were more comfortable. Many said that, due to the way aging skin changes, fitness tracker bands were uncomfortable to wear.”

While 67 percent of participants in the study felt that the fitness trackers were beneficial, there are certainly improvements that can be made to tailor the devices for an older consumer market. The AARP recommended the following improvements to fitness trackers for seniors:

  • Tailor health goals to older consumers
  • Simplify set-up of the devices
  • Less obtrusive design
  • Streamline maintenance
  • Add timely alerts
  • Instant access to information

I look forward to seeing what this study stimulates in the way of new wearable technology for those of us over the age of 50. Fitness trackers for seniors are an important development and support in our efforts to get fit and stay healthy as we age.

Featured photo source: Flickr user alper

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