Fitness Trackers Are Bad Now
Go walk it off.
BY Sarah Rense | May 26, 2017 | Fitness & Health
Can we just call it quits on fitness trackers? The devices, which cover a wide range of shininess and costliness, do not take accurate measurements of calories lost, according to a new study from Stanford Medicine. In fact, after testing a number of different trackers available to consumers, the researchers recorded error rates from 27 percent to 93 percent, meaning the best possible calorie tracker was still off by an average of 27 percent.
The study put six brands of fitness devices—Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, and PulseOn—to the test by having them track energy expenditure (i.e. calories burned) on treadmills and stationary bikes. The Fitbit Surge had the lowest error (27 percent) and the PulseOn had the highest (93 percent). The devices were also less accurate for men, people with darker skin, and people with higher BMIs than they were for healthier white women, according to NPR. That means they might do a greater disservice to people who might want to lose weight more. Similarly, a 2016 study found that people in weight-loss programs who didn't wear trackers actually lost more weight than those who did wear them.
On the brighter side, the trackers were fairly accurate at measuring heart rate, the study found. But you know what else is good at measuring heart rate? Two fingers pressed on a pulse. If you can count for a minute, it's a pretty cost-efficient method. Here are the standard markers to hit, according to the American Heart Association. Tech is good and exciting, but it hasn't caught up to healthy living just yet.