Activity monitors could improve our health and extend our lives — if only we could be motivated to use them. Those are the conclusions of two new studies about the promise and perils of relying on fitness trackers to measure and guide how we move.
The monitors, which are expected to be a popular holiday gift again this year, can generally track our steps, speed, stance (sitting or not), distance, energy expenditure and heart rate. The absolute accuracy of these numbers, however, is somewhat suspect, with past studies finding errors in many of the monitors’ measurements. But the inaccuracies are usually consistent, the studies show, so the trackers can reliably indicate how our movements change from day to day.