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Most Popular Fitness Trackers Don't Live Up to the Hype

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If you're looking to track your fitness, cross the Nike FuelBand off your wish list. It, and many other popular fitness trackers, all come from the School of Over-Promising and Under-Delivering, an increasing number of studies suggest. Research shows they don't actually work—or at least not as well as their marketing teams would have you believe.

New York Times writer Nick Bilton tested different fitness and sleep trackers, including Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand, and apps Breeze and Move, and found that all of them were inaccurate. For example, on a day he spent sitting in his cubicle, Move told him he had walked 3,363 steps. On another instance, the Nike FuelBand told him he hadn't taken any steps at all, when in fact he'd gone walking with a friend all over San Francisco (his friend's FuelBand registered thousands more steps than Bilton's did).

"People are getting fitness-tracker fatigue," Jim McDannald, a podiatrist and health and technology writer, told Bilton. "Even a cheap pedometer is better than these fitness trackers."

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However, the technology is improving. According to Bilton's article, Apple has recently hired a group of medical experts, including Michael O'Reilly, the former chief medical officer of Masimo Corporation, which makes medical monitoring devices, to help it with a wrist tracker that's supposed to integrate health statistics and tracking.

“These technologies will have enormous potential over time, but I think their full potential will take many years to realize,” David Blumenthal, a former adviser to President Obama and president of the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that focuses on health care, told Bilton. “In pioneer analogies, we’re just landing on Plymouth Rock.”

What do you think? Have you found a fitness tracker you love that really works? Comment or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!


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