What You Should Know About Fitness Trackers


Today we're going to give you the run down on fitness trackers - what they are, their benefits, the issue with tracking calories burned, and other considerations!

First, let's define what a fitness tracker is: a worn device that can help one keep track of data regarding their general health markers, daily fitness, and activity levels. Depending on the device, fitness trackers claim to monitor various data points such as heart rate, movement, blood oxygen levels, sleep cycles, body temperature, distance traveled (such as via bike or running), GPS tracking, and more.

Common fitness trackers include:

  • Fitbit
  • Apple watch
  • WHOOP band
  • Oura ring
  • Garmin

    Benefits of Fitness Trackers

    • Help with monitoring general health markers
    • Provide objective data on your current activity level
    • Assist in the achievement of more daily steps
    • Motivate you to implement small habit changes such as going to bed earlier or moving your body more
    • Provide data that can help you prevent/manage underlying health conditions
    • Help to hold you accountable
    The Issue With Calories Burned

    Fitness trackers are a beneficial tool to utilize to monitor overall activity levels on a daily basis, however studies have shown that fitness trackers have a 27% margin of error in estimating energy expenditure, with some up to 93%. The “daily calories burned” data that a fitness tracker calculates is typically very inaccurate and shouldn't be relied on. These devices lack several vital pieces of information that are necessary in order to calculate this number correctly, such as:

    • The thermic effect of food you consume (this makes up a large percentage of your TDEE)
    • If your body has adapted to exercise and become more efficient
    • Inaccurate heart rate readings due to sweating during a workout
    • Your body composition
    • And more!

    Don't focus on the "calories burned" section of a tracker and instead focus on the key principles that aid in fat loss, such as the caloric deficit set by your coach.
    Other Considerations

    Sleep and steps are two other variables that fitness trackers tend to miscalculate. Studies have shown that sleep trackers can only be up to 78% accurate. Fitness trackers are only able to monitor arm movements and heart rate, which is not the most accurate depiction of sleep data and does not consider other crucial factors such as brain waves, blood oxygen levels, eye movements, etc. Steps may also be miscalculated, as these devices pick up all movements - not just steps. For example, folding laundry and washing dishes are often misinterpreted as steps. You may consider wearing your tracker on your non-dominant wrist/hand in order to decrease the amount of potential miscounted steps.

    Fitness trackers can be extremely useful in helping you be more mindful and intentional of your daily movement. They can also be a great motivational tool for you to get up and move your body more often throughout the day. As we know, NEAT is a large contributor to your TDEE, so fitness trackers may benefit in helping you increase your overall NEAT. They can also be beneficial for you to be more aware of your sleep habits.

    Although these devices may not 100% accurately track steps, calories burned, and sleep, they can still be helpful tools in your fitness and nutrition journey. You should simply understand the discrepancies that can occur through the collected data and not count on it being fully accurate. Instead, focus on creating habits to help improve your overall health and happiness 😊
    We hope these tips help you better understand fitness trackers! Have an AMAZING week, fam!