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Are Fitness Trackers Accurate?

Are Fitness Trackers Accurate?
Latest Update: August 4, 2018

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These days, with the increased prevalence of activity trackers, you are probably thinking of getting one too. But, are fitness trackers accurate? This may be the most common question that people have when thinking about it. Additionally, it is offered in a variety of style, size, and shape, and it is understandable if, aside from your doubts on its accuracy, you may feel overwhelmed and challenged in choosing which one will fit you.

However, because of the cool advancements in technology, the features that these fitness trackers have will take your mind off that doubt and make you want to own one. That is also completely understandable as there are types which can track your steps, your calories burned, and even the quality of your sleep. These trackers were created and designed to keep track of your activities to help you stay on course in maintaining your focus on your health and fitness goals.

Before we dwell on the heated question of the fitness trackers’ accuracy, let’s first discuss the types of fitness trackers we have on the market nowadays.

What Are the Types of Fitness Trackers?

Whether you want to go biking, running, or hiking, there is a certain fitness tracker that will fit most of the type of activity that you will do. And so, depending on your needs and interests, it pays a lot to do your research first about the kinds of trackers out on the market so that you can carefully choose your best match.

  • Basic Trackers

If you are just starting with your fitness journey or if you are not after a feature-rich tracker because you want to take it slow, then you can benefit from the basic fitness tracker which gives you the capability of tracking your steps or the distance you ran or walked, and the amount of calories you burned, while also allowing you to record them, so you can push yourself to improve each day.

  • Trackers with Sleep Measurements

This fitness tracker helps you monitor and analyze your fitness routines, your sleep pattern and quality, and even your diet. This type usually is worn on your wrist so it can easily do all these features and capabilities. This device can usually be paired with a smartphone, so you can upload and save your data for easier monitoring.

  • Trackers with Heart Rate Monitors

This type of fitness tracker is usually connected to your mobile phone via Bluetooth or wireless connection. It comes with features that can read and track your heart rate, and monitor it while you are actively playing sports which helps ensure that you’re within the bounds of your optimal health. It can also include notifications or alerts for when you are idle or sitting for a prolonged length of time, so you will be reminded to get yourself moving.

  • Trackers with Smart Features

This fitness tracker is very popular these days because of the number of things it can do. It tracks your steps and distance, the number of calories you have burned, and the time you’ve been active while keeping your data and then it automatically recognizes you on your next activity. It also includes a notification feature which will alert you to alarm reminders, text messages, and calls from your mobile phone.

How Do Fitness Trackers Work?

Fitness trackers basically measure components such as the intensity of the activity and the motion from start to the end. After the motion gets registered, the data are gathered and processed so that they can be available to be viewed on the screen. Different devices from different brands may use measurements and algorithms different from one another.

Ideally, the data from your device is tested against the data from other devices. Data is collected through an application or an internal computer chip and then gets analyzed and interpreted into statistics such as the distance walked or the number of steps, which get easily available to you real-time.

What Are the Pros and Cons?


  • Fitness trackers get you moving.
  • Since the date becomes easily available to you, you get to adjust and level up your game when you see that you are far from your set goal.
  • They alert you if you have been sedentary or idle for too long, so you can be reminded that you need to get moving.
  • They also give you a baseline data which allow you to kickstart your journey while being able to set realistic goals.


  • One major drawback of fitness trackers is that they can easily make you feel discouraged and then cause a drop-off.
  • It can result in a sudden loss of interest if the goal set is not met or if you do not seem to be losing weight when that was what you wanted in the first place.
  • Another disadvantage is that it can have different readings if one device is compared to another. They can show different measurements which can also result in feeling discouraged.

Are Fitness Trackers Accurate?

As much as we adore these devices, there is always that question about its accuracy. In fact, a study done at Stanford School of Medicine found out that six out of seven fitness trackers measured heart rate within 5%. This means the fitness trackers are doing a great job in keeping track of your heart rate. However, they also found out that these devices don’t do well in measuring your burned calories.

The Verdict

So, are fitness trackers accurate? Well, we can say that the accuracy depends on a lot of factors. For instance, your heart rate data can easily be monitored and accurately measured by the device sensors while you are wearing the tracker. On the other hand, other data such as the calories burned will be dependent on factors such as age, gender, fitness level, body type, and exertion level. The accuracy of the data being gathered can also be affected by the type of activities that you are doing.

Overall, we can say that the most important thing to keep in mind is that the key to fitness is your ability to discipline yourself while consistently keeping yourself active. These measurements from fitness trackers should only be your guide that helps you focus on your set goals.

Date Published: August 20, 2018

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