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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017, Article ID 4271483, 7 pages
Research Article

Using Novel Technology within a School-Based Setting to Increase Physical Activity: A Pilot Study in School-Age Children from a Low-Income, Urban Community

1The Miriam Hospital, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School, 196 Richmond St., Providence, RI 02903, USA
2Butler Hospital, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School, 345 Blackstone Blvd., Providence, RI 02906, USA
3St. Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to E. Whitney Evans; ude.nworb@snave_yentihw

Received 2 August 2017; Revised 16 October 2017; Accepted 12 November 2017; Published 3 December 2017

Academic Editor: Senlin Chen

Copyright © 2017 E. Whitney Evans et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Less than half of American children meet national physical activity (PA) recommendations. This study tested the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of using wearable PA monitors to increase PA in school-age children. Methods. In Phase 1 of this study, conducted in 2014, 32 fifth-grade students enrolled in a low-resource middle school were given a waist-worn Fitbit Zip monitor for 4 weeks to test its feasibility (adherence) and acceptability. Adherence, wear time of ≥8 hours per day, was examined. Feedback was solicited from parents through structured interviews. In Phase 2, conducted in 2015, 42 sixth-grade students were assigned, by classroom, to one of three conditions (Fitbit + goal and incentive-based intervention, Fitbit only, or control) to test the feasibility of the wrist-worn Fitbit Charge and its preliminary effectiveness in increasing PA over 6 weeks. Results. In Phase 1, average adherence was 64.1%. In Phase 2, it was 73.4% and 80.2% for participants in the Fitbit + intervention and Fitbit only groups, respectively (). After controlling for baseline values, weight status, and sex, there were no significant group differences in changes in MVPA or steps from baseline to follow-up. Conclusions. While moderately acceptable, wearable PA monitors did not increase PA levels in this sample. They may be more effective within a coordinated school-based physical activity program.