BHealthy Blog

Taking a Look at New Research on Fitness Trackers

Scott Davis, Cardiologist

Fitness trackers are once again the topic of new research. There continues to be emerging data looking at the fitness tracker, the information it provides and the accuracy of that data.

A recent study came out in the Journal of Personalized Medicine. The devices used in the study were the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and the Samsung Gear S2.

Participants wore up to four devices simultaneously while being assessed with continuous telemetry and indirect calorimetry while sitting, walking and running on a treadmill, and cycling on a stationary bike. Six out of seven fitness tracker devices had a median heart rate error across participants and fitness activities of less than 5% compared with the gold standard measurement obtained from a 12-lead ECG. While none of the seven devices accurately measured energy expenditure, the group reported that the Apple Watch was the top overall performer in both heart rate and energy expenditure measurement.

The findings suggest that heart rate measurements from wearable devices are informative for doctors to examine as part of the overall picture of their patients’ health. We do need transparency from device companies and consistent release of validation data to facilitate the integration of such data into clinical care.

What is the take home from all this? Consumer devices aren’t held to the same standards as medical-grade devices. However, it’s been a good tool to get people off the couch. Anything that will get you moving is fantastic!

Watch Dr. Davis as he talks about the research on KATV.