Fitness Trackers Not Accurate Claims Experts As Jawbone Nike Fuel Band + FitBit Come Up Short

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Fitness performance trackers are a hot category for Australian CE retailers, now experts are claiming that the devices can be up to 40% out.

One of the better models of fitness tracker was the Fitbit branded product, but even that device was “Way Out” according to Yang Bai, the lead researcher at the Iowa State University in the USA. 

The scientists who spent several weeks evaluating various fitness devices have revealed that most devices may not be as accurate as you think.

More than 70 million ‘smart’ wrist bands, chest straps, ankle trackers and sports watches were sold worldwide last year. And the number is expected to increase in Australia this year say the experts.

Yang Bai, the lead researcher said the goal of the research was to find out how well the trackers counted calories in ‘real world’ situations in which they would actually be used.

To achieve this, he asked more than 50 healthy participants, aged between 18 and 65, to choose three different activities of varying intensity.

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Each performed 20 minutes of sedentary activity – such as reading, watching TV, typing – 25 minutes of aerobic exercise on a treadmill, and 25 minutes of resistance exercise, with five minutes of rest between each activity.
 
The most accurate was The BodyMedia Core, which is only sold by limited retailers in Australia but can be purchased online. 

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Second place went to the Fitbit Flex, which is sold by JB Hi Fi, Dick Smith and Harvey Norman.  
Jawbone Up24 and Nike Fuelband SE came in third and fourth place – both with accuracy rates of between 15 and 18 per cent.

The worst performing device was the Polar Loop, which is sold by Harvey Norman, this device had a 40 per cent error rate.

The participants tested seven different fitness trackers simultaneously while undertaking their activities, they included Fitbit Flex, Polar Loop, Misfit Shine, Nike+Fuelband SE, Jawbone UP on the wrist, Actigraph GT3X+ on the waist, and BodyMedia Core on the left arm. 

At the same time they were being monitored with the Oxycon Mobile, a portable system that measures calories burnt by analysing oxygen levels in exhaled breath. 

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The Misfit Shine, recorded an error rate of 30 per cent.

Sales in Australia reveal that consumers are continuing to flock to cycling, interval training, group fitness classes and other calorie-burning activities in 2015, but now questions about the hi-tech devices used by consumers have bought into question the value of the devices claim analysts. 


Last year consumers bought an estimated 84 million tracking devices in 2013, figures from analyst group HIS In


MyFitnessPal, a digital fitness app and online website, said data from its 47 million users in the United States shows back-to-basic fitness routines such as cycling grew in popularity last year, a trend likely to continue in 2015.


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which alternates all-out effort with recovery periods, jumped 28 percent and CrossFit, a demanding, back-to-basics regimen, was up 15 percent.

Although Zumba, the dance and aerobics routine, is still popular, the figures showed it lost some momentum in 2014 with a nine percent drop in the number of participants.

The American College of Sports Medicine has forecast that body weight training, which uses minimal equipment for back-to-basics-type workouts from CrossFit to boot camp, and HIIT will be the top trends in 2015.

Strength training and group personal training were also among the top 10 identified for 2015.

Lisa Wheeler, director of a group of fitness centres, said the popularity of short, intense workouts paved the way for an increased emphasis on recovery.

“The last years it’s been (about) going as fast and hard as you can,” she said. “Now, we’re seeing recovery time built into classes and recovery days, which provide fitness experts and healthcare providers with valuable information.
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