Smartphone Apps vs Wearables: Which Should You Use to Count Steps

Many individuals who are completely devoted to maintaining strict fitness regimens can be as attached to their high-tech fitness gadgets as the rest of us are to our smartphones.  Wearables, like the Fitbit, are particularly popular because they are seen as the type of device that can effortlessly track an individual’s daily physical activity.  However, a new study indicates that many smartphone apps are just as good as specialized wearable devices.

Smartphone Apps vs Wearables

There is no arguing that an individual could very well spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars buying all of the latest fitness gadgets, but that is not actually the point of any of these gadgets.  Regardless of what smartphone fitness apps or wearable fitness devices an individual is using, the ultimate purpose of these apps and devices is to help the individual streamline, correct and perfect their fitness regimen.  Obviously, this means that the individual needs an app or device that is accurate in its recording, and it turns out that smartphone apps may work perfectly to that end, negating the need for other, expensive wearable fitness devices.

A recent study of fourteen individuals carrying both wearable fitness devices and smartphones loaded with activity apps while walking on a treadmill for a specific number of steps discovered that smartphone apps were perfectly capable of accurately recording steps taken.  In the study, participants wore three fitness devices on their waist and another three devices on their wrist.  They also carried a smartphone in each of their pants pockets–one that was running three physical activity apps and another that was running one physical activity app.  At the end of the activity, researchers compared the participants actual, exact step count with the number of steps recorded by each of the wearable fitness devices and smartphone apps.

The fourteen participants each completed a specific number of steps on the treadmill four separate times, and the researchers found that all wearable devices and smartphone apps were fairly accurate in counting steps taken.  It became clear that the fitness devices worn on the waist were the best at accurately counting steps taken, but the smartphone apps weren’t far behind.  Considering that only one or two percent of adults own wearable fitness devices but more than sixty-five percent of adults own and carry smartphones, it’s easy to see how smartphone apps can prove to be immensely helpful, without placing stress on one’s wallet.

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