A recent study conducted by the BBC sheds light on the fact that fitness trackers are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to calculating the number of calories expended.
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Although fitness trackers are fantastic for certain activities, you definitely shouldn’t put too much stock in the number of calories they claim you’ve burned using them. This information comes from a recent episode of BBC X-Ray. In it, a group of researchers from Aberystwyth University talked about a recent study they did.
They used a Fitbit Charge 2, a Letscom HR, and a Letsfit activity tracker on each of the 12 volunteers who volunteered to take part. In addition, oxygen monitors were worn by the volunteers in order to provide an accurate reading of their calorie consumption. The accuracy of the results of an exercise session on a treadmill where the person walked for 10 minutes and then ran for 10 minutes varied a lot.
In point of fact, none of the devices that were put through their paces exhibited very accurate calorie burn estimations. Dr. Rhys Thatcher, who was in charge of carrying out the research, commented that the instruments had an “innate inclination” to over-measure. In one instance, the tracker’s estimate was more than fifty percent more than the real amount!
In order to put this into perspective, the typical adult burns roughly 2,000 calories every single day. If your fitness tracker overestimates the number of calories burned by a third, it will indicate that you burned an additional 600 calories today. That’s equivalent to a Big Mac, right there!
“It doesn’t matter which device you use if you want to know the exact number of calories that you are burning during an exercise session,” Dr. Thatcher said. “You just have to interpret the data with some caution.”
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The findings do not come as much of a surprise and are consistent with those discovered in other research that is very comparable. However, the more active you are normally, the less accurate the calorie burn data will be. Fitness trackers work well for measuring the amount of calories burned when resting or during sedentary activities.
Thatcher also stated that it is not vital for fitness trackers to be accurate if they are “being used as a motivational tool or to track progress.” which is precisely what we mean when we say it. If you are interested in a rough estimate, it is perfectly acceptable. However, you shouldn’t let erroneous information on the number of calories expended slow down your progress.
According to statements made by Fitbit during an appearance on the BBC Wales X-Ray program, the company is “confident in the effectiveness of their products, based on substantial scientific research.” Others have asserted that their products are not “medical devices.”