DALLAS, TX (Ivanhoe Newswire) — They track everything from how deep you sleep to how many paces you run every minute. But are all these fitness trackers honest? Are they really accurate? And, is there a difference between them? A recent study pitted four different brands against one another and against a heart monitor in a stress test. Which one was best?
Doctor Mark Millard loves accurate measurements. He’s a pulmonary specialist and a triathlete. He’s connected to a wireless EKG along with two wrist fitness trackers. One costs two hundred dollars, the other, four hundred dollars that’s connected to a chest strap. A ten minute track run tests both of them.
Mark Millard, MD, FCCP at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas said “I get 155. I got you at 156. So, that’s pretty close, but on my wrist sensor, it was only 125.”
Resting, all of the monitors read about the same. But add movement, like riding a stationary bike, and the basic wrist monitor doesn’t measure up to the wrist/chest monitor and the baseline EKG.
“The big one is 134, the wrist is 120, and the EKG says 135.” Doctor Millard continued.
While cheaper fitness trackers can count steps, they’re not so great measuring heart rates, according to a study in the annals of internal medicine. But they all have value.
“They get you off the couch. They get you onto the track. They get you active and that, in and of itself, pays for itself in gold. You might even get a discount on your health insurance from your company that you work for.” Said Doctor Millard.
Doctor Millard thinks the pricier trackers are worth it.
“It’s the best anti-depressant there is, and you sleep well.” He said.
So it appears you get what you pay for.
The benefits of exercise are well documented, leading to a longer, happier life. And, exercise can reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Contributors to this news report include: Don Wall, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Mark Montgomery, Videographer.
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FITNESS TRACKERS: ACCURATE, MORE OR LESS?
BACKGROUND: Your heart is a muscle that gets stronger and healthier when you lead an active life. Even taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can make a big difference. People who don’t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease as people who are active. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men. The most common type is coronary heart disease (CHD), killing over 370,000 people annually. Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease. About 47 percent of Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Some of the risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But, you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
EXERCISE AND TECHNOLOGY: While technology is frequently blamed for the increasingly sedentary lives many people are leading, it does not have to be a reason to sit still. Technology can actually be used as a motivator to get fit and aid in behavior change. People who exercise and use technology to support their goals are oftentimes more successful. One of the biggest trends in fitness technology is wearable monitoring devices. These devices can come in a variety of forms and are meant to be worn at all times. They measure things like heart rate, movement, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, sleep patterns, skin temperature, blood oxygen levels, and much more. They provide an all-encompassing image of wellness. You are now able to see proof of your efforts in real-time, which can be highly motivating. Just turning the device on can promote self-awareness. Most wearable technology can also sync with mobile apps to help you track your statistics over time.
FUTURE OF FITNESS: No doubt, all things smart are on the rise. Pete McCall, adjunct faculty of exercise science at Mesa College in San Diego, is conducting a study on obese mice where whole body vibration (WBV) may be as effective as regular exercise when it comes to benefiting muscles and bone health, and combatting some of the negative effects of obesity and diabetes. “The science on WBV is sound. When you vibrate on a platform, the platform causes your muscles to contract almost like you’re moving, but you’re not,” says McCall. However, while technology helps to quantify fitness goals and motivate people to refine their workouts and diet, Karen Lawson, IEEE senior member and director of design technology, says, “…moving is essential.” McCall and Lawson believe the number of wearable fitness trackers and tracking apps will continue to increase, seeing them take on a different role in health. Over the next decade, they think smart fabrics will include sensing capabilities that allow users to augment the monitoring and performance of their activity, and ultimately, our fast-paced lives will drive in-home fitness technology, including the ability to stream workouts from your home.
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Susan Hall, PR Baylor Scott & White