Exercise tracker gadgets and apps that track your physical activity and activity level are getting more and more popular.
But how well do you know your apps?
A new study by the University of California at Santa Barbara, published in the Journal of Health Technology, found that while many of these devices and apps offer useful features and can help you track your health, they may not always provide useful data or provide you with accurate data about how much you exercise.
“We’re seeing a shift from apps that are easy to use and that you can get to the activity information on your phone to apps that provide information about your physical health and exercise activity,” said John Binder, a professor of health systems at UC Santa Barbara.
Binder conducted the study with UC Santa Barbosa Professor of Computer Science David Tompkins and UC San Diego doctoral student Tania Maresca.
The researchers analyzed data from 2,400 exercise tracking devices sold between September 2015 and February 2016.
The researchers focused on devices sold in the United States and Canada and also found that many of the devices tracked activity level by measuring how much a device is moving during a certain amount of time.
For example, an activity tracker can track how many steps you’ve taken and how many minutes you’ve spent doing that activity.
But the study found that the devices were often not able to accurately track exercise level.
In the United Kingdom, for example, most devices track activity by measuring the amount of oxygen consumed, not how much exercise you’ve done.
Similarly, devices in the U.K. that track activity levels for several hours per day tend to be inaccurate, according to the study.
“Some devices can be very accurate, but most are not,” Binder said.
Binders team also analyzed the use of exercise trackers by participants and how accurate they were.
For instance, when participants used a smartphone or tablet with a wristwatch and exercise tracker, they were more likely to complete their workouts and to stay active, compared to when participants did not use a device.
When it comes to fitness trackers, some people may be more willing to use them than others.
Some people may find that a device with accurate activity levels helps them to stay healthy and active, while others may find they don’t need to use fitness trackrs.
For example, Binder’s team found that some users reported they felt they were not getting the best results with devices that tracked activity levels when they used their smartphones or tablets, but when they actually used their devices the devices provided them with more accurate data.
The team also found some apps, including Fitbit and Runkeeper, that provided useful exercise tracking information that was not accurate.
The authors note that Fitbit, Runkeeper and others are in the process of developing better fitness tracking software, but the studies findings suggest that these products may not be adequate to help people with physical health issues.
Binding added that the research was important for companies looking to develop new fitness tracking technologies.
“The devices are becoming more and less accurate and are getting harder to use,” he said.
“In the future, we may need to develop better fitness tracker technology for health and activity monitoring,” he added.
The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation.