• Tue, Jun 10 - 8:48 am ET

That Fitness Tracker You Paid So Much For May Actually Do Nothing, Say Scientists

Fitness tracker1You know those fancy fitness trackers gym rats have been wearing and using to brag about how many calories they’re burning, even when they’re sleeping?

Well, according to one study, they may not be so accurate after all.

The most popular models of the must-have accessory for fitness fanatics and gym rat, like the Nike FuelBand, FitBit One, and JawboneUP, were tested across 13 different activities like running, playing basketball and even Wii tennis.

Researchers found results determined the bands at best were, ‘reasonably accurate’ which doesn’t sound too terrible. But when it came to estimating calories burned, the fancy wearables were more than 10 percent off.

Cue putting down those cheese fries—you may not have burned enough to earn them!

Fitness trackers are great for helping individuals make and reach their health and weight loss goals, whether they want to take a certain amount of steps per day or reach a certain mileage on a road run.

However, according to Gregory Welk, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, some bands may be better than others, but collectively, their accuracy is questionable.

“People buy these activity monitors assuming they work, but some of them are not that accurate or have never been tested before. These companies just produce a nice-looking device with a fancy display and people buy it.”

People aren’t just buying these devices for kicks. They’re spending upwards of $100 to track their health. And despite the pretty penny individuals are paying for these gizmos, the devices themselves aren’t performing up to par.

To put the devices to the test, 30 men and 30 men wore 8 different monitors during a 69-minute workout. The top performer was the $99 BodyMedia FIT, which tracks sleep, sweat and calories…but still had an error rating of 9.3 percent!

The next two frontrunners were the Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One, at 10.1 and 10.4 percent error rating respectively. The biggest disappointment was the Basis Band, a $199 wearable that performed with a 23.5 percent error rating.

The bottom line? Do your research before buying! The bottomest line? Stop going on and on to your friends about how your Fitbit is the best thing evvverrrrr.

Spending nearly $200 on a fitness tracker that errs over 20 percent won’t help your health or your wallet. And while fitness trackers may be great for motivation and meeting daily goals, don’t rely on them solely to jumpstart your health.

A much cheaper, $25 pedometer may be all you need.

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  • Alana Vincenza

    I’m actually considering getting a pedometer, though if it’s based on hip movement, I guess I need to keep my random dancing to a minimum.

  • HarrietM

    They have free trackers apps for your phone that you can download anytime. Google makes one, “My Tracks”. You turn on your GPS (or not, but it is less accurate without GPS) and it measure how far you walked and approximately how fast you were walking most of the time. I carry mine in my purse while I walk.

    My new phone came with a step counter. I found that just this morning, I walked a third of a mile just puttering around the house.

    I cannot even imagine why you would want to spend $200 on something that you can download for free.