Fitness Trackers are not as accurate as they should be when measuring the heart rate of a person who works out. The problem is that the fitness trackers fail to measure the heart rate correctly once a person is doing a hard work out. This could be dangerous for those persons that try to push themselves harder. It can also mislead a person into thinking that he has a heart problem since his heart is beating so hard after a simple jog.
In order to test the fitness trackers, fifty volunteers were recruited by researchers. The volunteers tested 4 different fitness trackers. The volunteers were connected to an EKG (electrocardiogram) in order to have an accurate measurement of the heart rate.
The test consisted in wearing one of the 4 fitness trackers (Mio Fuse, Apple Watch, Basis Peak and Fitbit Change HR) and exercising on the treadmill. The study showed that people who exercised harder had less accurate results on their tracker.
The ones that gave the most accurate results were Mio and Apple. They had the same results as the EKG 90% of the times. The one that had the least accurate results was Basis Peak with 83% match and Fitbit had 84% accuracy.
The trackers had different results. Once the person started to work out harder Fitbit underestimated its heart rate and Basis did the opposite: overestimated.
This is starting to become a problem once the person exercises harder and the tracker shows a lower heart rate than it’s supposed to show. This could cause a heart attack because the person is not aware of the real rate of its heart.
The ones that produce these trackers did mention that the devices are not medical ones and they show an average heart rate. They also mentioned that they tested the trackers and the errors were not that big to be concerned about them.
The limitations of the study were that the volunteers only worked out on the treadmill and they were relatively healthy. This means that on people who have a health problem the results could be different. The same thing can happen if the volunteers did other types of work out.
The researchers are doing other studies on this topic, using other fitness trackers and putting the participants to do different exercises.
Image source: Flickr
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