The hype around fitness watches and why they are not always accurate

Fitness watches have become quite a new attraction. Available in attractive and aesthetic designs, these watches represent the awareness of physical well-being in millennials. The newer models with features such as ECG, Heart Rate Counter, Steps Counter, Pulse counter are quite popular amongst people. But are they truly something novel?

Then and now

Fitness watches were not so sophisticated at the beginning of their journey.

The surprising thing is, it is not something very new either. The Polar Sports Tester PE 2000 was the first watch for serious athletes and a forefather to pretty much any biometric sports watch since. It received an upgrade in the Sports Tester PE3000 in 1984. This was the first watch to implement biometric information live onto the display. In 1987 the PE300 introduced Target Zones for heart-rate based training. But fitness wearables have come a long way, to producing accurate ECGs to warning signals when the watch notices any kind of abnormal reading.  It has evolved into more of a fashion accessory with all the new and trendy designs.

A medical revolution?

On a Friday night in March, while sitting in his cozy home in Atlanta, GA, a beep on 61-year-old David Gilley’s Apple Watch notified him: His heart rate was unusually high despite being at rest.

It’s a new optional feature of the Apple Watch’s updated Heart Rate app—an alert goes off if your heart rate rises to an atypical level provided that you’ve been idle for over 10 minutes. Gilley, who had been struggling with heart issues for a decade and had recently been diagnosed with an abnormal heart rate condition called atrial fibrillation—quickly opted in.

His heart was almost failing by the time he reached the nearby hospital.

But luckily, Gilley’s story had a happy ending: He walked out of the hospital a few days  later, due in large part to his watch.

Examples like that are more than enough to make anyone rush order a fitness watch of their own.

Not an unadulterated blessing

The advantages of these watches and their advanced alert systems might seem to outweigh the dangers by far, but it isn’t so in reality. Various hospitals report that their emergency room is getting overcrowded 10 times more than usual, thanks to fitness watch false alarms. People getting even the slightest of warning signals rush to the emergency rooms panicking.

A trigger for anxiety

These watches have become somewhat of a panic inducer for people suffering from anxiety.  The emergency rooms of hospitals often have to waste valuable time and resources for panicked people with no actual health problems. This often undercuts actual cases of emergency and have the potential to cause lasting damage and maybe even death. The occasional warning signal might save a life. But the truth is vitals can be elevated for a variety of reasons, a lot of which aren’t serious. The smoke signals sometimes take the attention away from an actual inferno.

On the bright side

Although fitness watches have their share of shortcomings, these should not totally overshadow the amazing things about these watches. MI bands are sufficiently cheap and quite popular amongst the people in Bangladesh. The teenagers who cannot afford branded watches can easily get these fashionable ones with unique and useful features (unless you’re using Apple products). It is indeed very convenient to get these medical notifications, and they have in one way or another, made way for awareness regarding medical conditions in people. Let’s leave it to the development of technology to provide more accurate results and hope for the best.

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