Before You Waste Money on That Fitbit, Read This ...

running legs in race

Sure, you could drop close to a hundred bucks on a wearable exercise gadget that measures your steps, calories, and even your sleep. But according to a new study, it might not be worth it.

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So yes, your Fitbit, Jawbone, Fuelband, etc., look ridiculously awesome. And if they get you off the couch and running, no one's going to argue they're doing something right. But according to a small study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a sleek high-tech gadget doesn't work any better than a free smartphone app.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine asked just over a dozen participants (most of whom were women) to participate in a number of treadmill trials. Each woman wore one pedometer and two accelerometers at their waist, three wearable wrist devices, and also carried two iPhones running a total of three different step-tracking apps. (That sounds like a workout all in itself.)

After they'd walked several distances of either 500 or 1,500 steps, the researchers checked to see which devices kept the most accurate track.

Old-school pedometers and accelerometers led the pack, missing less than 1 percent of steps. Smartphones were off by about 6 percent, counting either too many or not enough steps.

And wristbands did the worst job, sometimes missing as much as 22 percent of participants' movements.

The researchers' conclusion: Since 65 percent of us carry smartphones anyway, simply download a free app to get moving.

Now, if only a scientist would compare $150 yoga pants to the cheap ones at Target.

How do you track your exercise?

 

Image via Robin McConnell/Flickr

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