A fitness tracker is an electronic device that can be worn during exercise; examples include a bracelet, necklace, or a rubber strap wrapped around the chest. A fitness tracker may also be a mobile app on your smartphone.
These days, many people use fitness trackers while working out, and a big reason why is because they have built-in heart rate monitors. But do these methods actually work?
What is the function of the fitness tracker?
A fitness tracker’s primary use is to keep tabs on the wearer’s activity levels and related data, such as calories burned, heart rate, intensity, speed, duration, and distance traveled during physical activity, as well as altitude when climbing and sleep patterns at night. Wearing this device aids the user in performing the highest possible level of physical activity, which in turn improves overall health and well-being.
A fitness tracker’s primary function is to monitor movement. These data are then compared with the user’s demographic information, including their height, weight, age, and gender, to produce an accurate assessment. Your tracker’s data reliability increases with the number of sensors it has, or so the marketing says.
What is the true value of using a fitness tracker while working out?
The fitness tracker’s design has a significant impact on the reliability of the data it collects about your physical activity levels. Cleveland Clinic cardiac surgeon Dr. Marc Gillinov oversaw a study that aimed to evaluate and contrast different types of fitness trackers. As a result, your heart rate may not be accurately captured by a fitness tracker.
Wrist-based heart rate monitors on fitness trackers tend to be more precise than those on devices worn on the upper arm or carried in a pocket. The chest strap fitness tracker had the most accurate heart rate readings of any type tested.
The results of another study conducted in 2013 found that trackers worn on the feet were significantly more effective than those worn on the hips. According to research conducted in 2014 by Iowa State University, fitness trackers are not very reliable for estimating energy expenditure. The study showed that the percentage of erroneous data could range from 9% to 23.5% across eight different tracker models. As a result, this may significantly affect progress toward health objectives.
According to Seconds, Dr. Mitesh Patel of the University of Pennsylvania’s Departments of Medicine and Healthcare Management says that the only people who will truly benefit from using a fitness tracker are those who have always had a strong desire to stay physically fit. The reason for this is that they can interpret the data and take appropriate action based on their findings.
However, the data may be useless if the tracker is used merely out of curiosity or as a fashion statement rather than as a serious tool for improvement.
A fitness tracker has the potential to save lives if used properly
Even though fitness trackers are often overlooked, they may actually save people’s lives. To 73-year-old Connecticut retiree Patricia Lauder, this is exactly what happened. Lauder regularly checks his heart rate with a fitness tracker and becomes concerned when it shows a resting rate of 140 beats per minute. Resting heart rates for adults aged 18 and up typically fall somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Lauder had previously complained of chest pain and shortness of breath even when he was lying down, but he had never pinpointed the underlying cause. Lauder used the information from his tracker to realize that his heart rate had increased abnormally from its normal range of 60 to 70 beats per minute to well over 100. Lauder then made the snap decision to seek immediate medical attention.
Lauder was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism after the hospital examined data from his fitness tracker and conducted a battery of other diagnostic procedures. In the absence of prompt medical attention, a pulmonary embolism can be fatal.
The above scenario involving Patricia Lauder is exceptional. Gillinov warns users not to freak out if their tracker displays an abnormally high or low heart rate because “electronics can still go wrong.”
According to Clinton Brawner, a clinical physiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, “very little evidence” exists to support the claim that recording one’s heart rate every minute when one is not exercising has any positive health effects. Experiments on-air, now.
Which type of fitness tracker do you recommend?
When exercising, knowing your heart rate can be helpful for determining whether or not your workout is intense enough to yield health benefits without posing risks (even death from stroke). said Dr. James Borchers, a sports medicine doctor at Ohio State University’s Wexner Hospital.
The “target zone” is the percentage of your maximum heart rate at which you feel comfortable increasing your heart rate in order to reap the benefits of your cardio workout.
Gillinov recommends a fitness tracker with a chest strap and electrodes if you need to know your heart rate accurately for any reason, including health and fitness.