Fitness Trackers Are Everywhere, but Do They Work?


We’re the biggest losers when all those counted steps aren’t used for research

You may have heard of the Fitbit or the UP band: $50-ish to $100-ish wristbands that measure your steps throughout the day, like a high-tech pedometer, and display your progress as a graph on your smartphone.

But this product category has exploded well beyond those common names. There’s the Nike+ FuelBand, Garmin Vivofit, the Basis Peak, the Magellan Echo, the Misfit Shine, and on and on. Health tracking is also built into the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear watches. Wearable fitness monitoring has become a $1.15-billion industry.

All these gadgets count steps. Most also measure sleep, revealing fascinating details about the one third of your life that you spend unconscious. The fancier models can also tabulate other metrics, including heart rate, blood oxygen level, skin temperature, perspiration, body weight and body mass.

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