Does Fitness Trackers Accurately Measure Heart Rate And Calories Burn?

It has been recently reported by the University of Stanford, that most fitness trackers of today measure the heart rate of the user accurately, but cannot measure the calories burned accurately enough. There has been a significant difference in the measurement of energy expenditure, and therefore fitness trackers are not the correct devices to be used for such a job.

The Test

It was evaluated by Stanford University by using seven different devices among 60 volunteers, in order to see the correctness of a device’s both heart-rate measuring capability and also the calories measuring capability as well. The devices that were used for the evaluation were Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, Samsung Gear S2, PulseOn, Fitbit Surge review and also the Basis Peak. It was detected that the heart rate measured by these devices had an error rate of almost less than 5 percent. It was also seen that some devices were more accurate than the others, where the skin color and the mass index of the body made the difference in measurements.

But when it came to measuring energy expenditure in terms of calories, these devices showed way less accuracy. The device which was the most accurate in the heart rate monitoring test was almost 27 percent less accurate in the calorie measurement test. The device which was the least accurate was almost 93 percent off the actual accuracy results.

It also should be kept in mind that, these consumer-grade devices are held to the same highest respect as normal medical grade equipment used for measuring heart rate and also the calories burnt as well.

Should You Depend On Fitness Trackers?

It is always known that the tests that the manufacturer of these devices do, will not hold up to the uses the mainstream consumers use these devices for. It is indeed very hard for consumers to know about the accuracy of the data provided by these fitness trackers, and also the process implemented by the manufacturer to test these devices out. And this is why depending on the data provided by fitness trackers should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

You can depend on fitness trackers for their heart-rate measurements, but not for calories measurements, as the professors of Stanford University clearly showed how much difference in accuracy there is between the medical equipment and the fitness trackers. The magnitude of fallacy in the calorie measurement category by these fitness trackers shows that measuring energy expenditure do need costly medical equipment, which cannot be substituted by these devices.


Therefore, the only main conclusion that can be taken away from this test is that fitness trackers should only be used for their heart rate measuring capability. Since each device uses their own measuring algorithm for calorie measurement, that's why there is so much difference in the accuracy of the results. Every individual has different characteristics in their body, and therefore, fitness trackers will not be able to distinguish between like dedicated medical equipment.

This article was published in collaboration with Atomic watch For Men

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