With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions. For many, this means a fresh gym membership and a resolve that this will be the year you get in shape. This resolution is often supplemented by new gear, whether it be a new pair of sneakers or a shiny fitness tracker watch. With this in mind, kinesiology professor Gerwyn Hughes set out to find which fitness watches come out on top.
Hughes ran the project through the fall 2017 semester with four others: his wife, professors Karen Francis, Shannon Siegel and Matt Helm. “We ordered five commercially available fitness trackers, all between $100 and $200. Then myself and a number of the other faculty wore each watch for a week and reviewed them on certain criteria, whether we thought they were good or not.” These criteria included their user-friendliness, comfort, battery life, and whether they recorded data such as heart rate, steps and sleep. Hughes noted that the project “didn’t test for accuracy at all,” as that would be a much bigger and more complicated project.
The purpose of this project was twofold. “The idea was partially just to test these, but partially with a future project in mind,” Hughes said. Although this future project is still up in the air, it would involve tracking the fitness of student participants. “We would get a group of students, give them one of these watches, and then we create groups so that people start encouraging each other to be physically active.”
“There is some research in children that the amount of physical activity they have improved their performance in the classroom. At USF a big part of us is trying to improve performance of students in the class, as well as retention — once they’re here we try to keep them here and they’ll enjoy it,” Hughes said. “It’s just a thought around making students in the USF community to improve their physical activity and in turn, hopefully, that would have a positive impact on a whole lot of things, including their academics.”