How Effective Are Fitness Trackers, and Can You Really Trust Them?

I have done a lot of research on the topic, and I have learned a lot about the usefulness of fitness trackers, as well as the fact that they are not very reliable and cannot be relied on.

However, does this still hold true in the year 2020, and if so, which fitness tracker or running watch is the most accurate?

These intriguing tests and comparisons involving three of the most advanced multisport fitness trackers on the market today – the Suunto 9 Baro, the Garmin FENIX 5X, and the Polar VANTAGE V – will assist you in finding the answers to these concerns.

The Run Panel, which is the most popular running blog in Israel, recently evaluated the top GPS running watches manufactured by Garmin, Suunto, and Polar. The results of these evaluations were really intriguing.

Two distinct studies on accuracy were carried out in order to verify and compare the two aspects that are considered to be of the utmost significance for runners: HR and distance.

The watches were used in the experiments, and links to your neighborhood Amazon shop were included on them.


If you are acquainted with my blog, then you are aware that I make an effort to share my sincere view based on either my own experience or on reputable research that I locate and find out about.

In this post, I have made the decision to provide you with a brief translation of the most important findings and inferences that can be drawn from these intriguing experiments.


The Most Accurate GPS Running Watch–The Largest Fitness Trackers They Are Accuracy Comparison Tests That Will Demonstrate How Effective They Are in Measuring Distance and Heart Rate.

As I have already said, two distinct tests were carried out: one to determine the accuracy of the HR reading, and the other to determine the distance.

The tests were conducted with three of the most well-known and “serious” sports watches currently available on the market: the Suunto 9 Baro, the Polar Vantage V, and the Garmin Fenix 5X (there are newer versions available now), the latest of which is the Fenix 6 – we will discuss it and the primary differences between the versions later on in the article.

A test and comparison of the built-in GPS’s accuracy over a distance was performed.

The testers made use of a mechanical measuring instrument known as a meter measuring wheel in order to determine the precision of the distance measurement. With this gear, the testers were able to measure and label extremely precisely a distance of one thousand meters along a straight line.

An illustration of a measuring wheel similar to the one used in the examination.

They carried out 5 measures in which they walked a total of 1000 meters while simultaneously wearing all 3 watches on the same hand.

The watches were all calibrated to measure precisely one meter to one, and a GPS was activated on each of them.

The GARMIN FENIX 5X came out on top in the accuracy of the distance measurement category because of its remarkable performance, which included almost no variation in any of the 5 measurements taken.


The Suunto came in at number two because it also delivered extremely outstanding results, including four measures that were absolutely spot-on with zero variation at all and one measurement that had a very slight variance of 10 meters.

It is essential to point out that a variation of 10 meters is nothing to be concerned about, and that a GPS measurement in and of itself has limits. Hence, we can claim with confidence that the SUUNTO is highly accurate!

And in third place we have the POLAR VANTAGE V, which produced a slight variance of between 20 and 30 meters across the board for all of the measurements.

How Accurate Are Heart Rate Sensors That Are Worn on the Wrist?

Testing and comparing the accuracy of the HR readings taken from the wrist-based HR sensors

Two distinct runners with an approximate 15-year age gap and a similar number of pulses each carried out the accuracy tests for the wrist-based HR sensors.

An experienced operator from the Sports Medicine Institute Medix in Israel was in charge of administering and analyzing the tests.

The participants were hooked up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) device, and the tests were carried out on a treadmill with the mode of the watches set to that of a treadmill.

In all, the tests produced 30 HR readings from each watch, along with a protocol from the ECG machine that measured them to the same second.

The findings of all of the watches were quite remarkable (an average variance of 1-2 percent), and if we taught until now that HR wrist-based sensors are not precise, then our perspective was changed by these tests.

According to these studies, the differences in heart rate readings across the three watches were quite small. As a result, you may use any watch throughout your runs without fear of being misled by its results.

Is it possible that we will never be free of this bothersome chest strap?

It is crucial to note that the tests were carried out in a reasonably linear fashion, which means that the runners kept a fairly consistent speed throughout the whole process.

While jogging in short intervals, the chest strap offers considerably quicker and more reliable readings than the wrist-based sensors, and if the testing included short, rapid intervals, then I’m convinced that the variances were far larger.

If you are a long-distance runner who maintains a consistent pace, then the results of these tests are excellent news for you, and you may confidently ditch the chest strap.

In this post that I just wrote, read more about how you may improve the accuracy of your sports watch or fitness tracker. It is crucial to mention that there are techniques to make your sports watch or fitness tracker more accurate.

It is essential to point out that the results obtained from a wrist-based HR monitor are dependent on a wide variety of factors, some of which include skin color, the type of blood vessels, the location of the monitor on the wrist, and more.

Therefore, in various experiments with a variety of test individuals, we may get varying findings. Nonetheless, the general conclusion is that we can unquestionably rely on readings obtained from wrist-based HR monitors in 2019.

First things first, let’s get familiar with the watches that took part in the accuracy tests.

Suunto 9 Baro :

Initial publication date: June 2018

Price: $600

Specifications and feature offerings:

The Suunto Baro 9 has a lot to offer, in addition to its outstanding look, which you can check out here. This is not your average movie in any way. Instead, it is a watch that serves several purposes and has a great deal to offer. The Suunto 9 Baro may be described most simply as a smartwatch that can unlock the doors to a smarter existence.

Tracking through GPS: The GPS tracking device performs well when it comes to tracing your path and measuring your distance traveled.

Long battery life The Suunto 9 Baro has a battery that has a long life, so you’ll be able to use all of its capabilities even if you’re not charging it. In addition to this, it comes with a wide variety of battery modes to accommodate various uses.

Impressive Touchscreen Display: The Suunto 9 Baro has a really excellent-looking touchscreen display that is sure to wow. It gives you the ability to view the data, which you will be able to see clearly even during the day.

In addition to the other functions it can do, the heart rate sensor gives you the ability to monitor your own heart rate.

By simply connecting your watch to the device of your choice via Bluetooth, you enable access to your data on any device of your choosing.

Polar Vantage V:

Initial publication date: December 2018

Price: $499.90

Specifications and feature offerings:

To assist you in determining the huge array of usability features, it is important to note that the majority of users think it is superior to Garmin. Let’s examine whether or not it agrees with the assertion.

Touchscreen: The touchscreen integration is fairly strong, although the display may be lacking in certain features in some places. Because it may be difficult for you to see the data display when the sun is shining directly on it, Swiping your finger over the screen will take you to your data for review, but accessing the data is not difficult at all.

Monitoring Your Sleep: This sleep tracking system works reasonably well.As a precise fitness monitoring watch, it informs you of the total amount of time you spent sleeping the previous evening to assist you in developing and maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern.

GPS system The incorporation of a GPS system within the watch enables it to function fully as a smartwatch.

Precision and Accuracy: One of the things that Polar places a strong emphasis on is the precision of its timepieces. The Polar Vantage V is guaranteed to provide you with precise time regardless of the conditions.

Orange, black, and white are the three color options that are available to choose from when purchasing it.

Garmin Fenix 5x:

Price: $599.9

Specifications and feature offerings:

The Garmin Fenix 5x is an excellent choice for a daily watch due to the extensive feature set it has.

The Garmin Fenix 5x, which is considered to be one of the finest smartwatches available today, is equipped with an inbuilt GPS system as well as multi-sport systems that can monitor your activities and progress. This watch is perfect for you if you are active and participate in sports. This watch is perfect for you if you like activities such as jogging, cycling, swimming, or even just going on adventures outside.

The Garmin Fenix 5x boasts a design that is both striking and well-fitting, giving it all the proper aesthetics that you need.

The package comes with a wide variety of tracking tools and sensors, including a heart rate monitor, a runner’s tracker, and a calorie counter.

Battery Life The Garmin Fenix 5x’s long-lasting battery life makes it possible to lead a more intelligent life with less effort.

August 2019 is the expected month of release for the Garmin Fenix 6.

The price on Amazon begins at $599.9 per item.

Specifications and feature offerings:

The extensive feature set of the Garmin Fenix 6 makes it possible for you to have an amazing smartwatch that will put all of the pleasant things that are available to you to work for you.

Heart Rate Monitor:

The precise monitoring of one’s heart rate, together with the other sensors, helps the Garmin Fenix 6 stand out.

Display: The overall design of the Garmin Fenix 6 gives the impression that it is a large and sophisticated smartwatch that has a transflective display. The liquid crystal display (LCD) will make seeing the data simpler even when the window is exposed to sunlight.

Solar Power: Because solar energy can be used to both power and charge devices, the battery life may be made to last far longer.

Personalization: If you’ve tried on other watches, you could have gotten the impression that there wasn’t enough room for personalization. However, the Garmin Fenix 6 has it covered as well.

Analyzing the differences between the Garmin Fenix 5x, 5x Plus, and 6:

To put it simply, each and every one of these three Garmin watches performs incredibly well. On the other hand, they have some subtle distinctions that you may want to investigate in order to obtain a clearer picture of what you will get and what you will be missing out on.

I really hope that you find this comparison and testing of the accuracy of fitness trackers to be as useful as I did in determining which GPS running watch is the most accurate.

In the event that you have any remarks, we would appreciate it if you would share them with us in the box provided below.

Leave a Reply