According to a new survey wearables help people by tracking their exercise and monitoring heart rate, but users fear inaccurate health data and malfunctions.
An increasing number of us these days has a wearable device strapped to one of our wrists. Their price has come down and the market has become flooded with everything from cheap fitness bands to very expensive sports watches.
A new survey by The Manifest, has now looked into the most common use-cases for such devices, as well as the most often cited concerns. The business news and how-to site surveyed 581 familiar with the technology, around two thirds of which were female, one third male. About a half were between the ages 18 and 34, 35% 35-54 and 18% over the age of 55.
Unsurprisingly, most of us (38%) primarily use wearables to track exercise. This includes things such as steps, calories, floors climbed, heart rate, sleep and more. It also entails some more sophisticated performance metrics for running and other types of exercise.
The other use case most often cited is monitoring vital signs, particularly heart rate. Around 26% of those surveyed primarily use their fitness tracker or smartwatch for this purpose. It brings piece of mind and the need to see doctors less frequently.
For example, most wearables these days will let you know your resting heart rate. This is one of the most important indicators of health and fitness. Some of these also have alerts to let you know in real-time if your heart has gone above or below a set value when at rest. This can point to health issues which you may not have been aware of. A select few will even let you know if you are experiencing an irregular heart rate.
The survey also assessed common concerns. Topping the list with 36% are worries about inaccurate measurements, followed by 18% who mentioned concerns about their device malfunctioning, and 14% with fears of becoming over-reliant on the device.
Accuracy is always going to be an issue. For example, wearables that measure heart rate from the wrist are much better at measuring heart rate at rest than during exercise. This is why its always better to wear a heart rate chest strap when running or cycling.
It is particularly difficult for wearables to provide accurate measurements for those with specific health issues such as irregular heart beat or high blood pressure. And it should definitely not be used to adjust medical treatments.
“I have atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is an occasional rapid heartbeat,” said one of those surveyed.
“The watch can detect this with the heart monitor, but it doesn’t work if the heartbeat is more than 120 beats per minute. With my AFib, that’s common, so instead of telling me I’m having AFib, it tells me my heart rate is over 120 bpm, and the results are unclear.”
A fitness tracker or smartwatch can be a great addition to a fitness or health regimen. But its good to keep things in perspective and not trust blindly a device that may not be 100% accurate. Sure, use it to track general health, but never as a substitute to visit a doctor for specific and more complex medial issues.
Source: The Manifest