Smartphone Apps Better at Tracking Physical Activity than Fitness Bands

Turns out fitness apps may be better at tracking physical activity than wearable fitness devices.

There's evidence that fitness devices do little to change our behavior. Some recent studies have found that in a matter of six months a fitness band someone just dropped $100 on will be collecting dust in the corner. One of the main hangups consumers have about the devices is that constantly charging them every seven days along with their smartphones becomes a tedious exercise after a while. So, why not just download an app as a trial run?


Researchers have found the top smartphone applications are just as good as fitness bands in tracking steps taken. Mitesh Patel, the study's senior author and an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania said in a press release:

“For most adults that want to track their general activity, smartphones will meet their needs."

In order to find out just how accurate the devices were, researcher took the top-selling smartphone fitness applications and compared them to the top fitness wearables. The team tracked the steps of 14 healthy adults, using the smartphone apps and pedometers while walking on a treadmill. The participants went for a couple controlled walks of 500 and 1,500 steps.

Of the findings, Lead Study Author Meredith A. Case, a medical student at Penn, said:

"In this study, we wanted to address one of the challenges with using wearable devices: they must be accurate. After all, if a device is going to be effective at monitoring — and potentially changing — behavior, individuals have to be able to trust the data. We found that smartphone apps are just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity."

The fitness bands had as much as a 22 percent variation in the range of step counts compared to the controlled number of steps taken, whereas the smartphone apps only had a 6 percent range in variation compared to the steps observed by researchers.

It seems only logical that anyone looking to track steps taken and calories burned in a day should opt for the smartphone app over the $100 fitness band. Especially when you consider how much more accessible an app is compared to a fitness band in day-to-day convenience and price.

Read more at EurekAlert!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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