Fitness trackers have been popular with fitness enthusiasts and people who want to improve their well-being, and wearable devices have shown promise as the technology it utilizes gets better with each new model released.
Recent studies using the high-tech wearables, however, claim that the devices still return erroneous results, especially when it comes to calorie measurements.
Inaccurate Fitness Trackers
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April claims that fitness trackers provide less accurate heart rate data compared with an electrocardiograph. A more recent study published on May 24, however, claims that the seven most popular trackers in the category accurately measure heart rate but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the amount of calories burned.
The devices tested are the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear. According to the results, all seven trackers showed impressive accuracy in measuring heart rate — with the lowest median error rate at 2 percent for the Apple Watch and the highest at 6.8 percent for the Samsung Gear.
When it came to calories burned, however, Fitbit Surge had the lowest median error rate at 27.4 percent while PulseOn did terribly at 92.6 percent.
"So, for those for whom it might matter the most, who are trying to lose weight, the error was actually greater," associate professor of medicine Euan Ashley from Stanford University Medical Center and Stanford Hospital and Clinics said.
Are Fitness Trackers Worth It?
It is tough to decide whether a fitness tracker is a worthy purchase, especially since some brands can be pricey. Perhaps the best way to determine if one should buy a device is to know how it will be used. Several studies have also shown that personalized fitness trackers do not really aid in weight loss but it is important to note that simply monitoring heart rate and calories is not enough to maintain a person's health.
Two studies published in October 2016 both say that fitness trackers did not yield significant weight loss results from their participants and that, even with the increased physical activity recorded by the trackers, it is still not enough to improve a person's health.
When it comes to overall fitness and well-being, having a consistent healthy diet and proper exercise are still the most important.
While some would argue that wearing fitness trackers do not really do much to improve a person's health, wearables still have advantages and can even save someone's life.
Fitness trackers can be beneficial to those who want an alternative way to keep themselves in check but it is important to remember that solely relying on the high-tech device is not recommended.