Behavior change techniques incorporated in fitness trackers: content analysis

Gladys Lai-Cheng Chia, Angelika Anderson, Louise Anne McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: The use of fitness trackers as tools of self-management to promote physical activity is increasing. However, the content of fitness trackers remains unexplored.

Objective: The aim of this study was to use the Behavior Change Technique Taxonomy v1 (BCTTv1) to examine if swim-proof fitness trackers below Aus $150 (US$ 105) incorporate behavior change techniques (BCTs) that relate to self-management strategies to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior and to determine if content of the fitness trackers correspond to physical activity guidelines.

Methods: A total of two raters used the BCTTv1 to code 6 fitness trackers that met the inclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria were the ability to track activity, be swim proof, be compatible with Android and Apple operating systems, and cost below Aus $150.

Results: All fitness trackers contained BCTs known to promote physical activity, with the most frequently used BCTs overlapping with self-management strategies, including goal setting, self-monitoring, and feedback on behavior. Fitbit Flex 2 (Fitbit Inc) contained the most BCTs at 20. Huawei Band 2 Pro (Huawei Technologies) and Misfit Shine 2 (Fossil Group) contained the least BCTs at 11.

Conclusions: Fitness trackers contain evidence-based BCTs that overlap with self-management strategies, which have been shown to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior. Fitness trackers offer the prospect for physical activity interventions that are cost-effective and easily accessed by a wide population.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12768
Number of pages12
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2019


  • behavioral medicine
  • self-management
  • fitness tracker
  • physical activity
  • sedentary behavior

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