Since the modern lifestyle has gotten increasingly sluggish, many people have started to rely on gadgets to track the little activity that they get during the day so that they can make some appropriate changes for the betterment of their health. Fitness wearables are the trendiest of these new gadgets since they let a person track their physical activity along with statistics about their average and instantaneous heart rate.
Many people follow the information given in these wearables almost religiously and even adjust their routines according to the information they are getting from their fitness gadgets. But are these fitness gadgets actually accurate. In this article, we are debunking the answer to this very question.
How Fitness wearables work?
The basic principle upon which most fitness wearables work is tracking movement. Most of the fitness wearables these days come with an inbuilt accelerometer. A lot of them also track rotatory and directional movement.
Not only movement, fitness wearables also keep an eye on the heart rate and all of this information is tracked by the use of sensors. Higher the number of sensors in your fitness wearable, the more accurate it will be. To assess all this sensory data, the trackers in a fitness wearable use the minute changes in the temperature of the skin along with blood flow in your tiny vessels.
Are they accurate?
Although the process of tracking seems pretty accurate in a fitness wearable, the reality is, however, somewhat different. Recently, new information has popped up and it has been brought to light that fitness wearables are not accurate for people of color. This information is also valid for people who have large tattoos.
The new findings are based on the fact that most fitness wearables use green light to penetrate the skin and collect the necessary information instead of infrared light since green light is way cheaper than infrared light. This cheap light has a very short wavelength and thus gets absorbed by melanin which is the main pigment that gives the skin its color. In people of color, melanin is very dominant and thus the popular fitness wearables are unable to detect their movement and heart rate accurately.
What do we learn?
The main giveaway from all this information is that people of color who workout heavily should not rely on the readings that they get from their fitness wearable especially in matters of heart rate. Heart rate at around 135 and above is not only detrimental to your fitness but can actually be dangerous.
Your fitness wearable is likely to show you a lower heart rate even when you are touching the safe limit and that can lead to serious heart problems in the long run, not to mention a fainting episode which is also quite probable. It is thus necessary that you rely on your intuition for your heart rate rather than your typical fitness wearable. If you really have to then you should make sure that your fitness wearable is using an infrared based sensor.
This article was produced in partnership with oladoc.com, a digital health company in Pakistan. Using oladoc, you can find the best psychiatrists in Karachi, psychiatrists in Islamabad, mental health experts in Lahore, and book an appointment online.