Cleveland — Now that prices are dropping, fitness trackers and smart watches are on the top of many people's holiday wish lists. But is one better than the other, and do either of them really work when it comes to monitoring your health?
To answer that, there are some important things to ask yourself: What do you need it for, and how much do you have to spend? Because depending on what you want, the cost of these can vary from less than $100 to nearly $1,000.
Bree Fowler, the Tech Editor for Consumer Reports says, "If you just want something that's going count steps, maybe track your heart rate,a fitness tracker probably covers what you need.”
Some trackers may have text and call notifications as well. But, if the person using it is not tech savvy, lots of bells and whistles mean nothing if they don't know how to use them. Although fitness trackers are typically easier to figure out.
And when it comes to charging, they'll last for days, while some smart watches need to be charged each night--but smart watches are working a lot harder.
Fowler says, "If you're going to do more reading emails, if you want the latest sports scores, the weather, you might want to look at a smart watch."
And the beauty of smart watches is that, in addition to monitoring fitness activity, the ones with cell service let you leave your phone at home.
But that convenience comes at a price. Smart watches cost more, and you have to pay for data.
But how accurate are either of them for fitness?
Researchers say they're on target when tracking physical activity, but for calories burned, a recent study found they could be off more than 40% of the time.
Zachary Pope, a public health researcher says, "There are just so many more metrics that the device has to take into account; the age, the gender, the race and ethnicity of that individual.”
And he says brands matter, because some companies have a lot more money for research.
“They’re therefore able to update their algorithms to ensure the user is getting the most accurate data possible," he explains.
For a fitness tracker, Consumer Reports recommends the Fitbit Charge 3 which is about $150.00.
For Smart Watches they like the Apple Watch Series 4, which will run you about $400. But it has this really cool feature. If you fall, and don't get up within a minute, it will automatically dial 911. So, it makes a good gift for grandma and grandpa…or klutzs like I am.
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