Do Fitness Trackers Measure Steps Accurately?

The main use of wearing a fitness or activity tracker is to keep track of various daily activities like steps, calories burned, sleep quality etc…

Of-course, the latest smart bands also offer advanced features like heart rate monitor, blood pressure, exercise intensity, and many more.

Fitness Tracker Steps Accuracy

When you wear a fitness tracker, it will ask you the basic details like age, gender, height and weight in order to provide you with suggestions to improve your overall health.

There are different types of sensors in a smart band that help determine your body movements, thereby track the respective metrics.

How Does a Fitness Tracker Measure or Count Steps?

There is a sensor called ‘3 axis accelerometer’ in the wearable tracker that continuously monitors your body movements (while on your wrist) and will judge whether you’re walking, running or even standing still.

Some advanced trackers also use ‘gyroscope’ to measure the orientation and rotation.

These sensors measure the acceleration, duration, intensity, frequency and patterns of your movements.

These body movements (data) are stored in the tracker, to be synced with your Smartphone or laptop, for further analysis by the software.

Since your personal metrics like age, height, weight, gender, etc… are already entered in the Smartphone app, the software now runs the data with those metrics using a personalized algorithm (varies from one brand to another).

This helps the software to assess your recorded movements, which are then categorized based on the different activities and then provided to you in the app interface.

From the processed data, you’ll know how many steps you’ve taken, the number of calories you’ve burned in total, etc…

How Accurate are the Step Counters?

Most step trackers aren’t perfect and often get confused with regular hand movements.

There are many people who think that they’ve reached their 10000 steps goal for the day successfully.

But, is there any truth in that?

Well, most wrist trackers either undercount or overcount the steps you’ve taken in a day. It also differs from one brand to another.

Frankly speaking, the readings of a popular-branded fitness band differs so much from the cheap fitness bands, mainly because of the number of sensors used in the device.

Misunderstood Motions is one main reason for the inaccurate step readings.

Most fitness bands misunderstand your movements and can associate those actions with walking.

Say for example, you’re washing your hands, using a computer mouse, banging nails with a hammer, etc… These movements may also be considered as steps by some brands (mostly the cheap models).

There are also a few people who notice that their activity tracker is counting steps even while they’re driving a car or sitting in a bus or train.

How to Make Your Fitness Tracker Count Steps More Accurately?

The main sensors like accelerometer and gyroscope work to an extent in providing the step count with 80 to 90% efficiency.

However, the steps count will be more accurate when you’ve a fitness band with built-in GPS feature.

A GPS when activated will accurately detect your exact location and any walking or running movements will be recorded with perfection.

Here are some more tips to make your smart band measure steps more accurately.

  1. Read the Manual – Most manufacturers provide a user’s manual along with the activity tracker and you’ll find more details like – correctly setting up the device, how to use the different functionalities, etc… It is your first job to get thorough with your band,
  2. Wear it on your Dominant Hand – Since your dominant hand is more likely to be active, it is recommended to wear the fitness band to that wrist so there will be less opportunities for mistakes.
  3. Wear it Firm – Wearing the tracker loosely will also make it misjudge your movements. So, wear it firmly on your wrist to get correct step counts. Also, note that your heart rate sensor will not work properly if you wear the band loose.
  4. Log Your Inactive Times – Though you did everything right, sometimes the readings are not correct, especially when you sit idle for prolonged periods. So, log those hours manually and deduct them from the total physical hours to get the right count.

Conclusion:

As I said earlier in the article, the top activity tracker brands usually track the steps more accurately, as they come equipped with multiple sensors like accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS etc… So, if you’re really concerned about the step count and calories, then it is highly recommended to purchase the tracker from a well-known brand.

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