Activity Bands Exposed By HRWC Test Staff

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Activity bands are very popular but lack for good scientific measurement and methodology in most cases, with the exception of Polar Loop and Garmin Vivofit, according to the Heart Rate Watch Company.

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Remember when everybody bought Richard Simmons workout tapes, well then, most activity bands are that kind of phenomena - long on marketing but short on substance.

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Activity bands are all the rage these days and everyone is selling them including FitBit, Nike, Polar, Garmin and more says the Heart Rate Watch Company.

"Remember when everybody bought Richard Simmons workout tapes, well then, most activity bands are that kind of phenomena - long on marketing but short on substance," says Rusty Squire, President of the Heart Rate Watch Company. He adds, "Accelerometers are not accurate on distance if uncalibrated, or calorie levels, and short change your activity level when your wrist isn't moving, so they just are not very scientific."

Nobody builds a band with GPS yet, but that may be coming down the road according to Squire. He adds, "Why not do it, then you will have more accurate distance data and add pacing, too!"

"Certainly these bands can count steps accurately but everything else from there is rather nebulous," says Squire.

The Exception

Recently, Polar introduced their Polar Loop activity band product which was the first to deliver real-time heart rate which means individuals could honestly measure their intensity level. Just recently, Garmin announced that they would release the Garmin Vivofit in March of 2014 and it will become the second activity band to measure heart rate.

"These two bands, by Polar and Garmin, are by far the best in our opinion because you get honest feedback when cycling or riding a stationary bike," says Squire. He adds, "Other activity bands don't give you credit when your wrist is not moving because they strictly use simple accelerometers to measure movement."

"The activity bands using accelerometers do not calculate distance accurately because they have no idea what your average stride length is and it is just a guess," says Squire. He adds, "A 4 foot 10 inch women is going to have a substantially different stride length than a 6 foot 6 inch man but to these bands they are both the same."

"We test these devices against wheel measurements and I can tell you for a fact that the distance is off and far more inaccurate than GPS watches," says Squire. He adds, "Polar was the smart one, they simply measure steps and did not go down the path of misleading consumers by professing any distance measurement."

The new Polar V800 GPS watch with activity functions may be the closest thing to a world-class GPS watch with activity functions built in and it is due out April 2014.

Don't Buy The Hype

"In the final analysis we think the activity band market is fraught with a lot of entries that do not accurately perform their tasks," says Squire. He adds, "We decided to carry the Polar Loop and Garmin Vivofit because heart rate is an honest assessment of activity and because the two companies have a much longer history in fitness than the vast majority of players in this market."

Call The Experts

"If you'd like to talk to a real expert, people that actually use and test the products they sell, then simply call us at 866-586-7129," says Squire.

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Rusty Squire, President

Tarie Beck, CFO
since: 04/2011
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