Industry trends

Do fitness trackers actually work and are they worth the buzz?

Do fitness trackers actually work and are they worth the buzz?

In today’s fast-paced world, fitness trackers have become ubiquitous companions for health-conscious individuals aiming to achieve their wellness goals. These sleek devices promise to monitor various aspects of our physical activities and health, providing insights that were once elusive. However, as the fitness tracker market continues to expand, a pressing question remains: Are fitness trackers accurate?

Research Reveals the Accuracy

Research conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine compared seven distinct wrist-worn fitness trackers. Surprisingly, the most accurate calculation of energy expenditure (referring to calories burned) had an error margin of 27 percent, while the least precise deviated by a staggering 93 percent. The study’s findings were clear: none of the devices yielded energy expenditure estimates deemed “within an acceptable error range,” as concluded by the researchers.

How Heart Rate Tracking Works

Smartwatches and fitness trackers ascertain heart rate by analyzing blood circulation in the vicinity of your wrist. This is accomplished by emitting LED light onto the skin. The color green is chosen for this purpose due to its effective absorption by our red blood cells. As a result, optical sensors can provide a more precise assessment of blood flow and heartbeat frequency.

Chest Strap vs. Wristwatch
Chest Strap vs. Wristwatch

If your training regimen relies exclusively on heart rate tracking or you’re observing a heart-related issue (for the latter, it’s important to consult your doctor first), a chest strap provides superior accuracy point-to-point.

The Steps You Take

Pedometers and other wearables are gaining popularity for tracking daily steps and promoting activity. Studies reveal wrist-worn devices can overestimate steps by 10% to 35% during everyday activities, but underestimate by 35% to 95% during activities without wrist movement (like pushing a shopping cart, wheelchair, or stroller).

VO2 Max and Fitness Zones

VO2 max, short for “maximal oxygen consumption,” is a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise. It’s a key indicator of cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Fitness zones, often categorized as different heart rate zones, are specific ranges of heart rate intensity that correspond to various training goals.

The Gamification of Workouts

From virtual challenges to earning rewards for hitting those step goals, gamification adds an exciting twist to your workout routine. It turns sweat sessions into engaging quests, making every rep and every move count towards unlocking new achievements. Who knew getting fit could be this much fun?

gamification in fitness
Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, fitness trackers have revolutionized how we approach our health, providing real-time insights into our activities and progress. While they might not be perfect, their ability to motivate, track, and enhance our fitness journeys is undeniable. So, yes, fitness trackers do work, and the buzz around them is well-deserved. As technology continues to advance, we can expect these devices to become even more accurate and integrated into our daily lives, empowering us to take charge of our health in exciting new ways.

Get a solution your fitness business can Lean On

Start 14-day free trial