One Fitness Tracker Is Significantly More Accurate Than Others

Researchers decided to put four of the most popular fitness trackers to the test to see which is the most accurate wearable and found one stood out among the rest.

Lately it seems like almost everyone has one of these devices around their wrists or clipped on their clothes, but it turns out some are significantly more accurate than others. The Apple Watch was the most accurate tracker when compared based on ability to track a user's heart rate.

Researchers at Cleveland Clinic had 50 healthy adults wear the fitness trackers while also hooked up to an electrocardiogram (EKG), which is the best way to measure heart activity. They had the participants walk and jog on a treadmill.

The Apple Watch was 90 percent accurate, but "the other ones dropped off into the low 80s for their accuracy," according to the study's author, Dr. Gordon Blackburn, TIME reports.

But before you run out and upgrade to the pricier gadget, there's some concilation.

All of the devices became drastically less accurate as the intensity of the activity increased, due to the fact that more movement means the device moves off the wrist and reads blood flow less effectively.

"What we really noticed was all of the devices did not a bad job at rest for being accurate for their heart rate, but as the activity intensity went up, we saw more and more variability," Blackburn said. "At the higher levels of activity, some of the wrist technology was not accurate at all."

The lack of accuracy shouldn't be a concern for anyone who is simply using the device to make sure they're raising their heart rate for enough time each week.


"Our concern is for patient populations that have health problems that can be aggravated by getting to too high of an intensity," Blackburn explained.

In that case, it is recommended that people use a medical device rather than a fitness tracker.