Health bands on the market today do a whole lot more than keep count of how many steps you’ve taken. Technology has improved them to the point where they can tell you how many calories you’ve burnt, read your heart rate, measure your sleep patterns and send you an alert to get moving. Some people swear by them to improve their fitness, but do they really work?
How Accurate Are They?
When you’re spending more than $100 to buy a health band you want to be confident it will give you an accurate snapshot of your physical lifestyle. In general, the health bands of today are much smarter than the pedometers we used to have. But recent studies have shown that health bands still aren’t 100% trustworthy.
In one study, several popular models of health bands were tested including Fitbit One; Jawbone Up; Nike Fuelband and BodyMedia Fit. Participants wore the bands while involved in cardio activities such as running and basketball. Researchers found the bands were ‘reasonably accurate’ when it came to tracking physical activity but had varying results in measuring the number of calories burned; most of them were over 10 percent out.
The top performer was the BodyMedia FIT, which had a 9.3 percent error rating. The Fitbit Zip had a 10.1 error rating, and Fitbit One had a 10.4 error rating.
Despite this, many users find health bands invaluable for providing the motivation to workout, and researchers have also found that those who don’t use bands overestimate exactly how active they are.
Said one user of their health band, “It’s a simple app that provides that extra incentive when I get home from work, even if it is just a little bit extra in my everyday routine.”
Some people get even more techy and have implemented their home automation into their FitBit, for instance setting their TV to shut off at a certain time and not to turn on again until they’ve done a certain mileage on their FitBit. For others who already have a degree of self-motivation, a health band is a helpful tool to enhance performance and to keep a log of their performance to reach their fitness goals.
It’s all about what works for you, but some people certainly need more nudging than others when it comes to fitness. A health band can be a help, with some people saying they lost a significant amount of weight simply because they couldn’t ignore the data their health band was giving them. Seeing how much activity they did (or didn’t do) each day or each week was a big motivation to start incorporating more activity into their lives, even if it was just using the stairs or walking the dog for an extra 20 minutes.
So whether you have cheap pedometer or a pricey FitBit, neither will help make you more active unless you possess a certain amount of motivation. But since it makes you more aware of your activity (or lack of it) a health band does appear to be helpful for improving fitness.