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Is fitness data from mobile apps accurate?

This Research Is A Food For Thought For All Fitness App Lovers

We all have our own methods of improving our health and looking towards our fitness and strength. Well, nowadays most of us look forward to different fitness apps for help. You won’t believe it but a study has something quite informative in store for us.

The study in question is a detailed research by the University of Toronto. It has warned us that the famous Smartphone fitness tracking apps we all look upon to, are not quite genuine and compatible. Like me, the readers would be stunned to hear that some of the most famed and globally recognized apps were declared inaccurate and inconsistent, as per the research.

Read also; A Survey shows “Wearable Fitness Choices” Of 763 Athletes.

The apps that were wildly rebuked by the research include Moves, Accupedo and Runtastic. To those who are unaware, these are the popular pedometer applications. The apps mentioned above were declared as unfit for use for medical conditions as they do not provide reliable data.

In the research, different apps were compared with a proper, working standalone pedometer. The procedure showed that a $33 pedometer was more accurate by plus or minus 5 percent in each case. The test involved a simple study in which apps were being used to record the data of people walking 20 steps at a regular speed.

While on the one hand, pedometer correctly reported the number of steps traveled, contradicting the expectations, the famous apps let us down. Accupedo was under-reported in comparison by around 25 percent; Runtastic was over-reported by nearly 10 percent and finally Moves was under-reported by 30 percent too. However, the apps only dominated the research over pedometer when they were used to record the steps walking up stairs.

Read also; IBM’s “Watson” is all active to teach you fitness

As per the report;

"The applications were neither valid nor consistent in the sample population under both controlled lab test and free-living conditions."

The authors, on the other hand, concluded the same;

“There was an unacceptable error percentage in all of the applications when compared to the pedometer."

The reason behind the inaccuracy of Smartphone apps is considered to be the accelerometer which is built-in the Smartphone’s hardware. The phones rely too much on the accelerometer to report data whenever a user is walking. Apart from it, GPS signals can also misreport data. In the test of similar nature, the researchers found that the apps would log steps while sitting in a slow-moving car because they interpreted the GPS motion as walking.

All in all, people who want to stay fit and healthy they should opt for fitness trackers. Oops! I forgot another study has proved that they are even more inaccurate. Bingo! The study revealed that the world class names like Fitbit also has a high degree of inconsistency while reporting data.

A Fitbit band can add up to 22.7 percent of wrong data, compared with an average of 6.7 percent for most Smartphone apps. The same company is also under a legal jurisdiction in U.S. for inaccurate data tracking.

The University of Toronto also declared that a $33 pedometer’s results as “pretty much bang-on” and “probably the most reliable and cost-effective tool for self-tracking your steps.” So, the next time you are craving to record your fitness please buy a $33 pedometer instead of the so-called fitness apps.

The question remains unclear is if the advance sports wearable with top class sensor technology be more accurate? Share your thoughts on the comment box below!

Kainaat Maqbool
The writer is a student of journalism, pursuing her passion for writing. She is an avid reader and wants to be a novel writer or a fashion editor someday!

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