A new study suggest that fitness trackers are not so accurate in measuring the heart rate. They might be useful for certain activities, but their purpose is not medical. Thus, those who use them are advised to keep them only for their fitness routines, and for any medical issue go see a specialist.
Fitness trackers do not record the heart rate accurately
For the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers used four fitness trackers which are worn on the wrist. These trackers came from Fitbit, Mio, and Basis. Then, they compared their recordings of the heart rate with an EKG.
None of the device showed the same result. Also, when comparing the results recorded during resting time with those recorded during the fitness routine, the first were more accurate than the latter. Even with these inaccuracies, these trackers might be good to inform people of their heart rate. However, they should not be used for medical purposes.
After looking at a survey from 2014, researchers discovered that 20 percent of Americans own and use such a wearable fitness tracker. Thus, they recruited 40 adults with ages between 30 and 65 to be part of their tests. The trackers they chose were Mio Fuse, Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge, and Fitbit Surge.
The discrepancy between the EKG and the trackers was not that big. However, the heart rate was registered as higher or lower from time to time. The device with the biggest accuracy rate was Fitbit Surge, while the one with the smallest accuracy rate was Basis Peak.
The trackers were more accurate at rest
The trackers faced the biggest challenge when monitoring the heart rate during intense exercise, such as running on a treadmill. For easier exercise, they were more accurate, and the perfect results were present when the participants were at rest.
Researchers explained that this might happen because these devices are made to be worn around the wrist. Thus, they cannot record the heart rate perfectly as they do not stay in place during exercise. Fitbit issued a statement regarding this study and declared that their trackers were not designed to be used for medical purposes.
Also, the data is no longer recent. The researchers said that they collected all this information a year ago. Meanwhile, the companies released new versions of the trackers which come with many improvements. Thus, a new study might bring better results.
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