We have plenty of options when it comes to devices that track our physical activity, but some are more accurate than others, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
This study was designed to compare today’s top step-tracking devices, including the Fitbit, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone UP24, Galaxy S4 Moves App, iPhone 5s Moves App, iPhone 5s Health Mate App and a popular pedometer called the Digi-Walker SW-200. A total of 14 young adults participated in the study, wearing devices on their waistband and in their pockets while slowly walking on a treadmill for a short amount of time. While participants walked on the treadmill, researchers manually counted the number of steps participants took in order to compare to the devices.
The good news is that most devices and apps were very accurate. The pedometer, Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip were the most precise, and on average only missed the actual number of steps by less than 1%. Smartphone apps were also relatively accurate, give or take 6% of actual steps.
Wearable devices, however, like the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP24 and Nike FuelBand varied greatly in accuracy. Among all types of devices compared in this study, the Nike FuelBand performed the worst, underestimating step counts by up to 23%.
As authors explain, exercise trackers offer a great opportunity to help people increase their levels of physical activity and improve health. Nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States own a smartphone, which can make tracking steps convenient and easy. Researchers believe that these study findings should reinforce consumers’ trust in using wearable devices and smartphone apps to track their physical activity. Despite some differences in accuracy, investigators conclude that devices compared in this study were accurate overall and that consumers should use this information to choose which type of device is best for them.