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Smartphones Provide New Way Of Tracking Steps

Dorathy Gass

In today’s day and age where mobile devices and their ‘apps’ are being used for just about everything, a small study has recently suggested that smartphones could potentially replace the traditional pedometer when it comes to tracking steps during exercise that involves walking or running.

The study was conducted by Dr. Mitesh Patel and her team, and the results were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers gathered 14 participants to walk on a tread mill at a 3 mile per hour pace. To test the accuracy of steps recorded in all devices, Patel and her colleagues watched participants while they walked, and counted each step taken. Gadgets used during the study included: a pedometer, the Digi-Walker SW-200; two accelerometers (the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip); and three popular fitness wristbands (Nike FuelBand, Jawbone UP24, and Fitbit Flex). Additionally, participants were asked to carry two smartphones: an iPhone 5s in one pocket (while running the Fitbit, Health Mate, and Moves apps); and the Galaxy S4 in another (running Moves).

In the end, the pedometers and accelerometers scored the highest when it came to accuracy, missing the step count by 1 percent or less. Smartphones came in second, with the Galaxy recording 6.7 percent fewer steps, and the iPhone at 6.2 percent more. Finally, fitness wristbands, which under-counted steps by approximately 1.5 percent to 22.7 percent, came in last.

While pedometers might be more accurate and affordable ranging from $10 to $30; smartphones might be the perfect alternative for tracking steps, as they are more functional and can provide an individual with other uses while working out such as email, games, music, and video options. In addition, those who currently own smartphones may be able to find affordable, if not free downloadable apps to track their fitness progress; compared to paying over $100 for a fitness band. Lastly, smartphones also offer bragging rights on social media, with apps that provide users the opportunity to share their results on Facebook and Twitter. Thus creating an increased motivation to work out, and hit fitness milestones.

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