Often, many of us who are trying to get accurate readings from our fitness trackers may wonder where to wear your Fitbit or Garmin fitness tracker. Is it true that more accurate readings come from ankle-wearing as opposed to the wrist? This and many more details all collide when determining the best place to wear our fitness tracker?
Most fitness trackers are designed to be worn anywhere on the body granted the band can wrap around and clasp to the body. With this in mind, wearing a heart rate tracking device around your non-dominant wrist is the best spot, since it captures the most accurate reading for this type of data.
Are you currently wondering where to wear your fitness device? This guide will certainly explore all the variables to help you make an informed decision.
Unlike most smartwatches, a fitness watch or tracker can be worn in a multitude of places on your body. But there are some positive and negative considerations based on where you decide to place the tracker.
Read on to find out more.
Why does a fitness tracker need to be worn in specific area?
It can be said that the most important component of a fitness tracker is the optical heart rate sensor, also known as a heart rate monitor.
For the best results with this component, the device should be worn on the wrist unless you have a chest strap such as the Garmin HRM which is ideal for runners.
The wrist allows the device to measure your pulse at an accurate rate, and this is done by ensuring that the device is not too tight around the wrist.
Essentially, you will want to wear the device where it is slightly loose to provide back and forth momentum to match the fluctuations in your heart rate.
For overall health tracker accuracy, a tracker can be worn on virtually any part of the body, as long as it wraps around the skin, and this will record good results with blood oxygen saturation and other data points.
But in terms of measuring heart rate and sleep quality, you can never go wrong with the wrist. Not only is your wrist bone a good support structure for the device, but this area of the body is closely related to your pulse.
Fitbit Sense, Apple Watch, Garmin, and other future brands keep providing consistent innovation when it comes to how most people prefer to wear these devices.
Devices that can clip on your clothing and the aforementioned chest strapping devices are some great examples of these innovations.
But if you can, always choose your wrist bone for both accuracy and support for the device. This is usually the first place we all strap devices to in the first place.
What is electrodermal activity?
Electrodermal activity can be a bit hard to grasp at first. But essentially, this is a property of the human body that causes continuous variation in the electric characteristics of the skin.
Since the human body is a form of energy in motion, the skin is one of the preeminent conductance measurements of the body in terms of electricity.
Skin resistance varies with the state of sweat glands in the skin, and this is one of the primary properties that helps to make a tracker accurate in its readings.
Sweating is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, which makes skin conductance measurement of physiological (psychological as well) arousal.
Additionally, this also means that electrodermal activity also records adequate measurements of the autonomic nervous system as well. This means that stress response is also tied to electrodermal activity.
In the physiological sense, this means that electrodermal activity is also a great variant to use when studying the fluctuations in the heart.
With all of this in mind, it is therefore easy to see why electrodermal activity plays such a large role in a tracker since it measures all of these physiological responses in the body through the skin.
Furthermore, wearing a tracker on the wrist as opposed to other areas is more beneficial for heart readings since both the pulse and electrodermal activity responses are recorded at optimal levels on the wrist bone.
Should I wear a fitness tracker on my wrist or my ankle?
Although most users will choose to wear a tracker across their wrist bone, most people may also want to try and wear the tracker across their ankle, especially if they are experiencing wrist discomfort.
The choice of where to wear the device is up to you, but to track data efficiently, the wrist is the best place to wear a device.
For example, something like the Fitbit Versa 3 will automatically assume that you will be wearing the device correctly, and will record information as it aligns to the wrist, and not the ankle.
Readings displayed in the Fitbit app may therefore be inaccurate due to the variations in physiological responses that can be recorded from the ankle when compared to the wrist.
Moreover, and if you are wanting to avoid your wrist, wearing the device across your waist would likely provide more accuracy when compared to the ankle.
Since your wrist will typically fall and rest somewhere along the waist, this means that your body is also programmed to record information at the electrodermal activity region of the waist just as it is on the wrist.
You can simply clip the tracker at this area to your belt or around the pocket, but you have to make sure the device can touch the body.
In order for the product to track optimal readings, it is recommended to wear the unit on the top of your wrist. This means that the back of the product should be touching the skin at all times.
Ultimately it matters not whether you wear the tracker on the top or bottom of your wrist. A more apt consideration would be how high or low you place the tracker on your wrist.
Depending on the type of activity you are performing, it can sometimes be cumbersome to wear the product low on the wrist, and you may need to raise it higher so as not to provide inaccurate readings.
Some examples include push-ups and any physical activity that puts stress on the wrist.
But you will want to make sure you do not wear the product too far up your arm. The unit needs to be near to or on the wrist to track information and record it with pinpoint precision.
But it ultimately does not matter if worn on the top or bottom portion of the wrist. Just make sure it stays firmly on the wrist and does not fall down to the hand or up the arm.
Do fitness trackers work in a pocket?
As it turns out, you can actually wear your tracker in your pocket, but there will be some inaccuracies in terms of the heart recordings. But this will be enough to record such things as steps and various physical activities that you perform throughout the day.
The most important thing to remember about this modification is that there has to be some kind of continuous skin contact in order for the electrodermal activity to send the right kind of signals to the heart and cardiovascular system.
So basically, you will only be working the motion sensor to record steps and activities, which does help to provide long battery life since the sensors are not having to work so hard.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these units are almost always arm-based tracking products as opposed to straps or clip-on. This could also mean that even some of the motion sensor mechanics may report inaccurate readings since the unit is programmed to record the arm first and then the other limbs that you use each day.
So it is best to turn the HR off if you want to wear the unit in your pocket. Of course, if you are only wanting to record your steps, this is a perfect way to keep the unit on you and reflect that information without all of the other readings as well.
You may find that it helps to clip the unit to your waist since it can get rather clunky when inside the pocket.
Can you put a smartwatch on your ankle?
Although a smartwatch is not designed to be worn on the ankle, many people will still wear it across their ankle since this is their preferred spot for fitness tracking readings.
The problem with this is that the unit is not designed to be worn in this area. There is a lot of momentum and weight that gets applied to the ankle on a daily basis, and the more pressure applied to a smartwatch, the more the likelihood that the unit will malfunction in some way.
So if this is something that you prefer to do, the best remedy would be to opt for an ankle band of some kind by which to attach a tracking unit as opposed to a smartwatch, which is designed to be worn on the wrist.
In summary, figure out the best place to wear your fitness tracking product can be a challenge for some.
These products are typically designed to be worn on the wrist, but it is all too common that many users may experience wrist discomfort at some point.
You can wear these products across your ankle, but just be aware of the limitations in what exactly can be tracked when worn in this fashion.