A recent study by Stanford University scientists has found out that most fitness trackers in the market can only be used to measure heart rate but not the amount of calories burnt during a workout. This means that you need to exercise caution when it comes to buying and using these devices. As a result, you are advised against using fitness trackers to judge what you eat.
This study has jolted the technological world. There have been calls for companies that manufacture fitness trackers release data indicating how their gadgets work out measurements. During the study, the accuracy of 7 fitness trackers was tested with 60 participants being asked to run, cycle, and walk. In the end, it was established that six of the seven fitness trackers could only estimate wearers’ heart rates. The six are the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, MIP Alpha 2, Samsung Gear S2, and PulseOn.
Only five devices were able to keep track of the participants’ energy use. Nonetheless, their measurements were still inaccurate because none of them had an error rate lower than 20%. The study’s coordinator Dr. Euan Ashley from Stanford’s department of cardiovascular medicine points out that fitness enthusiasts ought to be aware of the limitations and strengths of fitness devices before buying them.
Dr. Ashley further adds that those who use these gadgets should know that what they get are only rough estimates but not the actual energy expenditure. This is not only dangerous but also deceiving. For instance, you might engage in a workout and think that you have lost 400 calories. As a result, you may relax thinking that you have 400 calories to play around with. This can particularly be an issue more so among people who tend to base their diets basing on what they think they might have burnt off in their workouts.
In as much as technology for monitoring heart rate has improved, little can be said of the effectiveness of gadgets that purport to measure individual’s energy expenditure. This may have been caused by failure by companies to use heart rates. Besides this, there is a huge difference when it comes to energy expenditure among individuals. Therefore, a single parameter cannot be used to measure the amount of calories burnt during a workout.