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Fitness Trackers – Facts and Fallacies About the Efficacy for Tracking Goals

Everywhere you go, the market is flooded with Fitness Trackers as everyone from athletes to beginners try to make sure they are on target with their goals.

Everywhere you go, the market is flooded with Fitness Trackers as everyone from athletes to beginners try to make sure they are on target with their goals. However, with this current trend, has anyone stopped to consider if they are in fact accurate, efficient or even healthy?

Which Fitness Trackers Work and Which Fall Short of the Mark?

First of all, I would like to say that as a Certified Personal Trainer, I am a fan of anything that helps my clients to feel motivated and gets them to achieve their goals. In my opinion, with having worked with hundreds of clients, the easier to use the better for beginners; leave the complicated trackers for the advanced athletes. That being said, there does need to be a guideline for Fitness Tracker accuracy for them to keep you on track. Keep in mind that to truly track your activity and ensure you are following an accurate program, it is important to stay within a specific heart rate zone. Make sure any tracker that you purchase has that ability otherwise move on to your next selection. So then, which Fitness Trackers work and which fall short of the mark?

Let’s take a look at some of the more popular Fitness Trackers’ benefits and pitfalls. There seems to be a recurrent few that people choose so the top 3 brands that I see being used in gym facilities will be discussed. Each of these fitness trackers come with a variety of models, but with options comes uncertainty. A few of their features will be outlined so that you can decide which one would be right for you and your activities.

Fitness Trackers

FitBit offers a wide range of models, including the Versa, Charge (HR) 4, Inspire (2), and Luxe. The Versa and Charge HR 4 excel in monitoring activity and heart rate during workouts, while others like the Inspire 2 and Luxe focus on tracking steps, activity levels, and sleep patterns. Advanced features such as GPS tracking and SpO2 monitoring are available in select models. Prices vary between $69.95 to $299.95 on the Fitbit website. Despite advancements, an Iowa State University study found minor discrepancies, with a margin of error of less than 20%.

Jawbone’s UP line has evolved to include models like the UP Move, UP2, and UP3, with newer additions like the UP4 and UP5. The UP5 offers enhanced features such as blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring and advanced sleep analysis. These trackers sync seamlessly with your smartphone, with prices ranging from $49.99 to $179.99 on the Jawbone website. However, similar to older models, an Iowa State University study found a margin of error of nearly 20%.

Polar’s lineup now includes models like the Ignite, Vantage M2, and Vantage V2, alongside classics like the Loop, A300, and A360. These trackers boast comprehensive heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and sleep analysis. Advanced features include built-in GPS, personalized training guidance, and recovery analysis. Prices range from $99.99 to $549.99, offering a wide range of options for fitness enthusiasts. Despite advancements, an Iowa State University study found Polar trackers to have the highest margin of error at 40%.

Well Why Wear One if They Aren’t 100% Accurate?

These Fitness Trackers worth comes not from their accuracy but from little differences in our attitude towards movement. The point is to make us aware, and to make our efforts fun or more competitive for some. In that way, these fitness trackers work well. You will park at the far end of the lot, get off the bus sooner and walk, go for a walk down the block just to bring your step count up to your 10,000-step goal.

Get Fitness Testing Done for Maximum Results

Whichever Fitness tracker or monitor you choose to purchase, accuracy is key when looking to achieve and surpass goals.  The best way to achieve maximum result, in the least amount of time and with the most accuracy is to have fitness testing done. The Sub Max V02 test measures the rate of oxygen during incremental exercise. Your max oxygen consumption reflects your aerobic physical fitness and is an important determinant of your endurance capacity during prolonged, submaximal exercise. The Sub Max VO2 test will give you specific heart rate zone that you should be training in for warm up, fat burning, moderate intervals and high-intensity intervals.

All these tools allow you to gauge and gain knowledge about the workings of your own body and for people with health conditions monitoring your heart rate can be imperative. Working with an elite trainer will always be your biggest asset when planning to accomplish fitness goals. Elite trainers can plan out your goals for all areas of fitness and the tool just becomes a way to monitor if you are in the right zone. Keep in mind, these devices are successful not because of their scientific merits but because of their motivational ones.

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA-SFL, Rehabilitation Specialist, CSNA