Activity Trackers-Are They As They Claim


If you are one of the many people who have vowed to make 2016 the year you get in shape then you most likely have heard of  activity or fitness trackers. These wearable techy gadgets are a  way to track your activity level, calorie burn and even your sleep patterns over the course of a day. The reason  they are so popular may be due to the motivation they provide when reaching goals you set for yourself as well as the accountability factor. You can easily measure if you need to add more activity to  by tracking the recommended 10,000 steps per day. Studies do show that people are 30-40  percent more active when they wear and utilize the information an activity tracker provides…that’s a pretty significant number.
Before purchasing one (which will run you anywhere from $99.00 to $199.00) you may be wondering if they are  accurate, reliable and worth the investment. One study sponsored by the American College of Exercise in 2015 examined five popular activity trackers; the Nike Fuel Band, FitBit Ultra, Jawbone UP, Body Media Fitcore, and the Adidas miCoach. This particular research measured only 2 variables-total steps taken and energy expenditure (calories burned) over a period of a day.
1. Tracking Steps-Pretty reliable. Most of the activity trackers were within 10% accuracy measuring steps but LESS 
accurate when complex arm and leg movements were performed, ie: multidirectional sports such as basketball, tennis etc.
2. Energy Expenditure-measuring calories burned is a very complex process. Too many variables can exist such as lean body mass to fat mass ,overall fitness level or even how efficiently  one moves their arms and legs. Large variations in the recordings were shown, from 13-60 percent difference between predicted calorie burn to measured calories used. Some models over predicted while others under predicted. None were accurate across all the activities that were performed. 
What’s the bottom line? Activity trackers seem to offer more accurate results for low intensity activities such as walking and other exercises that don’t require complex arm and leg movements. They can be very beneficial to new exercisers for goal setting as well as offering a way to measure a starting point and progress.
Are they worth the added expense? The accuracy may be less important than the fact that they can get you up and moving! Do whatever it takes to help you stay on track or do whatever works for you to be more active.*Please share how you use your activity tracker and ways it helps motivate you in the comments section

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