A national evaluation of activity tracker initial activation, sustained use, and physical activity outcomes


More than 85% of large employers in the United States offer wellness programs that often include behavior changes strategies such as financial incentives and gamification. Increasingly, these programs are using wearable devices and smartphones to remotely monitor and engage individuals in health promotion. However, there has been little evaluation of initial activation and sustained use of these devices.


We partnered with Humana to evaluate a wellness program offered to 4.5 million individuals across the United States from 2014 to 2015. We compared initial device activation, sustained device use, and physical activity outcomes across sociodemographic characteristics.


Among 4.5 million individuals, 1.2% activated a device by connecting it to the wellness program to transmit step data. Activation rates varied significantly by age and income. Adults who were elderly or had lower income levels activated devices at much lower rates. At six months, 80% of those who activated a device were still using it, and physical activity levels were higher than the national average. This study was one of the first national evaluations of activity tracker use. The study demonstrated that outcomes varied based on sociodemographic characteristics.