Smartphone apps keep pace with step counters

Getty Images Image by: Getty Images Author: Canadian Living


Smartphone apps keep pace with step counters

Wearable fitness gadgets that measure the number of steps you take in a day are inspiring many people to stay active – or so our Facebook feeds tell us.

But if you’re on the fence about whether to go out and buy the latest model, a new study may save you money.

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of the America Medical Association has found that apps available on smartphones are just as accurate as wearable devices dedicated solely to fitness.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of medicine asked healthy adult participants to walk on a treadmill while loaded up with devices of all kinds. Fourteen subjects walked for 500 and 1,500 steps during a total of 56 sessions.

The devices worn included the popular Flex FitBit, the Digi-Walker Sw-200 pedometer by Yamax, iPhone 5s running apps such as FitBit and Health Mate and Samsung Galaxy S4s running the Moves app, according to the study.

Then, the data was gathered and compared to the known number of steps actually taken.

An accessible fitness tool
The data collected by smartphone were only slightly different from the observed step counts, according to the statement. The data from the devices was in some cases closer to reality but in others differed much more than the worst smartphone app.

Senior author Mitesh S. Patel suggested that these findings are relevant to public health, since a majority of people own a smartphone, not a fitness device.

"Our findings suggest that smartphone apps could prove to be a more widely accessible and affordable way of tracking health behaviors," he said in the statement.

Sure, you can still claim that your cellphone is too clunky to stash in your pocket during a run. And there is that chic Tory Burch FitBit that could do double duty as jewellery in your wardrobe. Your call, of course.

Here's more on fancy step counters - and the best indoor workouts.


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Smartphone apps keep pace with step counters