Is Your FitBit Lying To You?

by | Feb 22, 2019 | Healthy Tips, Living Well

For Christmas, I received a shiny new FitBit Versa! The square screen largely resembling the Apple watch, I immediately fell in love with this upgraded model. Plus, I can load my Starbucks card into it so I don’t have to bring my wallet with me when I exercise. Winning!

While this grown up toy certainly comes loaded with extra fun bells and whistles, critics are wondering: How accurate are these activity trackers? One recent study compared the FitBit Ultra’s reported steps to those observed through video monitoring and found that there was a significant discrepancy. Those with faster walking speeds had over-reported step counts while those with slower walking speeds had under-reported step counts. The conclusion: activity trackers are not 100% accurate (Wong, Mentis, & Ravi, 2018).

So if it’s not accurate, should you even bother wearing it?

YES! Just because your well-meaning FitBit isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s worthless! Activity Tracker technology has upped the ante from standard pedometer days. Today’s wearable monitors don’t just count steps! They actually encourage you to get your butt out of the chair! Think of your FitBit as your personal accountability partner, coaxing you to get up and exercise on the daily! But the app doesn’t stop there! It tracks your sleep, allows you to log your food and water intake, reminds you to relax and breathe, and tracks your heart rate. And while it might not be perfectly accurate, research shows that activity trackers have the potential to facilitate long-term changes toward health (Sullivan & Lachman, 2017).

The takeaway here is to not rely too heavily on your FitBit for caloric data. The calorie deficit reported isn’t always your calorie deficit in real life. In other words, just because your app told you you burned 500 calories doesn’t mean you should run to Baskin Robbins and order 500 calories worth of ice cream. I mean, you can, but that probably won’t help you lose weight if that’s your goal. However, if you are looking for encouragement and frequent reminders to move that precious body of yours, then an activity tracker is a solid investment. A little AI friend that compliments your outfit AND buys you coffee…what’s not to love?? So don’t throw your FitBit in the junk drawer just yet. Instead, strap it to your wrist proudly and allow it to remind you to love and take care of your body, mind, and soul.

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Amberly Rowland

Integrative Nutritionist

I’m Amberly, a Clinical & Integrative Nutritionist. I help women who’ve had cancer go from just “surviving” to THRIVING by amping up their nutrition, reducing stress, and teaching them how to be in the present moment.

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