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Is your fitness tracker really working?


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Photo: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

It was rough enough when the news broke that fitness trackers may actually be undermining your exercise efforts more than helping, but it may be even worse than you thought—the data collected may not be accurate at all.

A new study conducted by Ball State University has found that your fitness tracker may be off by up to 40 percent, Daily Mail reports. In a review of two wrist-worn trackers—the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP24—and two hip-worn trackers—the Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One—researchers monitored participants’ calorie loss as they stayed sedentary, completed household chores, and during vigorous exercise.

While the sedentary movement was fairly accurate (within eight percent), the trackers underestimated the calorie burn during household work by 27 to 34 percent and overestimated the strenuous exercise by 16 to 40 percent across the different devices.

While the study is limited (only 30 people of various ages and fitness levels were tested), it raises the question of how reliable fitness trackers actually are—especially if they’re affecting how and when people are working out.

The report also comes at time when the future of fitness trackers is up in the air—Fitbit is reportedly facing several lawsuits due to the inaccuracies of their devices, while Jawbone is rumored to be stopping all tracker production.

While a Fitbit spokesman told The Times that their devices are meant to serve as motivational tools and not replace medical or scientific devices, this news may just be the straw that breaks the motivator’s back (and makes him ditch the wearable altogether).

What do you think—will you still use a fitness tracker? Let us know in the Comments!

Not all high-tech fitness is a let-down. At this futuristic workout studio, the room literally responds to you. And these five crazy cool tech innovations are definitely worth the research.