Before you drop hundreds of dollars on the latest wearable consider this: smartphones are just as effective at tracking physical activity as wearables, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania compared the step count accuracy of popular smartphone applications and wearable devices. They discovered that the smartphone apps were able to detect step count within a -6.7 percent to 6.2 percent difference. Wearables were a little less impressive with a -22.7 percent to -1.5 percent difference. However, it looks like that -20 percent error was an outlier due to one device unnamed by the researchers in the online brief.
As the research shows, downloading an activity tracking app may be the way to go for someone who is interested in tracking their physical activity but doesn’t want to spend the money on an expensive device or constantly wear a band around.
Do you want to accurately track your activity without using a band? Here are the apps the researchers looked at:
- Fitbit (iOS) – Fitbit has both a wearable band and an app. Even without the band, the app can provide basic activity feedback like steps taken and has relatively good reviews on the App Store.
- Health Mate (iOS) – Health Mate uses the iPhone’s own capabilities to accurately measure sleep and activity. It also has relatively good reviews on the App Store.
- Moves (iOs and Android)- Moves is always on and able to track any walking, running or cycling you do. It also connects with other apps to provide a more seamless tracking experience. It has relatively good reviews on the App Store and Google Play store.
You can read the article online at JAMA’s website.