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.


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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