Fitness trackers are all over the place. From Fitbits to Mi Bands to Apple Watches, tech companies are jumping onto the bandwagon, for better or worse. The results (and effects) have been wide-ranging: on the main one hands, fitness trackers do appear to spur visitors to exercise more. Alternatively, fitness trackers have also exposed the locations of classified bases when military personnel unknowingly distributed the facts of their workouts with other users.
But do fitness trackers actually work in the first place? Off their role as a motivation for exercise Apart, can fitness trackers surpass the claims of their manufacturers? The email address details are mixed. While fitness trackers can measure certain signals very accurately, they don’t do so well with others always. For example, a Stanford study discovered that although fitness trackers could measure heart rate very well (the error rate was significantly less than five percent), this is not the case for other factors, such as calorie burn. Researchers discovered that when it came to energy expenditure, the least accurate device was off by typically 93 percent.
Even the best device experienced one rate of around 27 percent. Granted, the Stanford study had not been the end-all of fitness trackers, as the sample size was pretty small (60 volunteers used the seven most popular trackers). The research team discovered that even small factors also, like BMI and skin, affected accuracy, raising a troubling question: are manufacturers making claims that don’t measure up?
The answer might be less straightforward than you may think. An earlier study conducted by Japan’s National Institute of Health insurance and Nutrition experienced 19 subjects tests 12 trackers-at once. 200 kilocalories. When volunteers examined the devices over a period of 15 times, researchers still discovered that the trackers reported regularly lower outputs (up to 800 kilocalories) than the actual calorie burn as measured by the team.
Even so, the Japanese group concluded that for the average person, fitness trackers were quite useful. Unlike in an extensive research setting, where accuracy is paramount, the average user merely needs relative results: as long as someone knows whether they’re burning more or less calories than yesterday or last week, it’s not just a huge issue.
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Besides, a good fitness tracker could be what they have to help themselves build consistent, lasting habits. Sleep, on the other hands, is a whole different story. Though trackers can distinguish when someone is sleeping or awake thanks to their accelerometers, they don’t really have any good way of determining whether you are in deep REM sleep or just dozing gently.
In a 2011 research, researchers likened Fitbit data to a polysomnography test, the precious metal standard of analyzing rest quality. While Fitbits tended to overestimate the sleep time of adults by 43 minutes, they underestimated the sleep time of children by 109 minutes often. More importantly, as one scientist described, fitness trackers have no way to distinguish between the stages of sleep, considering that such activity occurs solely in the brain. Such brain waves are measured by electroencephalography (EEG) machines-not heart-rate monitors. In the final end, fitness trackers are something of a mixed bag.