Let’s say you are looking for a trustworthy fitness tracker. Of course, there are plenty of offerings on the market, from manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin. You may be wondering which one is worth buying and after doing some research you decided to go for a Fitbit health tracker. However, the question that is still lingering is: are Fitbits accurate? If so, how can we determine that?
In order to help you make a conscious and informed decision, we’ll try to asses how accurate are Fitbits and whether Fitbits are worth buying.
At some point in 2019, researchers at Aberystwyth University have been testing the accuracy of popular activity trackers for a BBC Wales consumer affairs program, and Fitbit was among the devices experimented with, precisely Fitbit Charge 2.
The test consisted of participants walking on a treadmill for ten minutes at 4km per hour, followed by a ten-minute jog at 8km per hour. The amount of oxygen used during their activity was monitored and
Dr. Rhys Thatcher concluded that “There is a direct relationship between the amount of energy somebody is using and the amount of oxygen they are burning. If you know how much oxygen you’ve burned, we can then know accurately how many calories you’ve expended throughout the activity.
So what does this mean in relation to how accurate are Fitbits? According to Dr. Thatcher the precision of activity trackers is not that important when looking at their health benefits. Confused?
Although activity trackers certainly have a role to play in improving health, Dr. Thather thinks ‘you have to interpret the data coming out of them with care – they are not direct measurements.
Furthermore, the study focused on the fact that Fitbits, as well as other fitness trackers, are useful when tracking progress and can be a great motivational tool to help people to maintain motivation to exercise.
Therefore, ‘activity is one of the biggest determinants of health’, he concluded.
The International Journal of Environmental Research also concluded that what you’re doing will affect how accurate your tracker is when estimating TTE and while “mainstream devices are able to reliably measure heart rate, number of steps, distance, and sleep duration, which can be used as effective health evaluation indicators, the measurement accuracy of energy consumption is still inadequate. Fitness trackers of different brands vary with regard to the measurement of indicators and are all affected by the activity state, which indicates that manufacturers of fitness trackers need to improve their algorithms for different activity states.”
While all trackers work with your personal data, referring to height, weight, gender, and age and metrics like basal metabolic rate or BMR, it also considers the speed with which people burn calories consumed in resting mode. As you can notice, there are some things to consider, as well as keeping in mind that the experience is slightly different for each individual. For example, an elevated heart rate doesn’t necessarily translate into an intense jogging session as it may well be the response to a stressful situation.
That being said, perhaps the question is whether focusing on how accurate are Fitbits is not the point of the gadget’s value or functionality. After all, it’s all about perspective.
Although not 100% accurate – no fitness tracker really is – Fitbit health trackers are excellent at getting you to move more, as they measure steps, distance and calories burned and the amount of activity during the day so that you can track your progress over time. Naturally, following your progression will motivate you to set goals and better perform.