Lately, you’ve noticed your clothes getting a little snug. You’re excited about embarking on a new fitness journey towards health and wellness. You got yourself a couple of great looking neon-colored workout gear which wouldn’t be complete without a Fitbit to help you keep track of your progress.
That has to be the best part of smart technology, right? But what if you learned that devices like these could be doing you more harm than good? Most users are oblivious to the amount of EMF radiation Fitbits emit and the kind of adverse effects this could have on their health in the long run. This guide takes an in-depth look at some of the things you need to know about Fitbit EMF radiation.
What Is a Fitbit? What Does a Fitbit Do?
Fitbits are health and fitness trackers worn on the wrist and are capable of tracking your every move. It is designed to give you valuable insight into your day-to-day activities. While its design mimics that of a conventional watch, it is capable of doing so much more. Some of their in-built features include:
- Tracking the number of hours you sleep
- Monitoring the number of footsteps you take on any given day
- Calculating the total calories burned
- Controlling your music player
- Displaying caller ID
- Displaying date and time
This data is downloaded on to individual user accounts on the Fitbit website. It connects to other devices like smartphones wirelessly using Bluetooth.
Types of Fitbit Devices
There are different Fitbit models available to meet the unique preferences of every user. Some models are designed to only track the number of footsteps you take while others provide information about the number of stairs taken on any given day. Others allow you to view your pulse rate while others let you control music from a smartphone.
Here are some of the most popular Fitbits you’ll find in the market.
Fitbit Sense Advanced Smartwatch
This is the premium smartwatch from Fitbit that includes all the normal fitness and sleep tracking plus an ECG sensor, blood oxygen readings , GPS, etc.. Full details are available on the Amazon listing.
This model is another advanced fitness tracker. It includes the new exercise mode, Active Zone Minutes along with sleep tracking, GPS and Fitbit Pay. If you’re interested in the full product information, it’s available on the Amazon listing.
This is their entry-level model that includes workout tracking and sleep insights. Although this looks like a straightforward option without too much concern, it does connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone so EMF will still be a concern. Read full details about the Inspire 2 on the Amazon listing.
The Versa 3 is an update to the previous Versa 2 and includes on-board, built-in GPS. So even if you leave your smartphone at home, your Fitbit will still track your location and map of your run, walk, or bike. So you know Bluetooth is integral to this model. Although handy for tracking your exercise, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the EMF exposure. The full details are on the Amazon product page.
How a Fitbit Works
Fitbits have integrated sensors and sophisticated algorithms that make it possible to aggregate and analyze different metrics. Users can get biostatistics like their heart rate, the number of calories burned, and the total amount of physical activity done on any given day.
For instance, the altimeter sensor can tell if you’re ascending or descending a flight of stairs. The 3-axis accelerometer tracks the total number of footsteps you take in a day. Both convert these movements into digital metrics once the device is placed on the body.
Many people prefer Fitbits to pedometers because of the accuracy involved in activity-tracking. The gadgets use smart technology that can distinguish between different movements like walking 5 miles versus driving for the same distance. That way, it gives you an accurate account of the amount of time you spend on the move.
Fitbit Side Effects – EMF Radiation Concerns
Fitbits are usually connected to a smartphone through a Bluetooth connection. While they are perfectly capable of functioning on their own, they usually have to be paired with a smartphone or PC to download the recorded activity metrics.
The fact that they rely on a Bluetooth connection is a red flag since it means that these devices emit EMF radiation. There’s also the issue that this connection has to be maintained 24/7 to enjoy all the features Fitbit has to offer.
Bluetooth is considered to be an electromagnetic wave and is classified as a microwave, which is a type of radiofrequency radiation (RF) in the electromagnetic spectrum. They have high frequencies and short wavelengths, which gives them the ability to penetrate human tissue. But don’t let this fool you. Prolonged exposure to radiation, even in small amounts, has adverse side effects on human biological systems in the long run.
Aside from the RF radiation they generate, it’s important to bear in mind that components like the sensors inside the Fitbit generate electric currents, which in turn produce an electromagnetic field around the device.
Constant exposure to these fields is not only detrimental to your health but also counterintuitive, given that the whole reason behind using a Fitbit is to promote good health and help you achieve your fitness goals.
Are Fitbits Safe? Fitbit Health Risks
Having a radiation source directly against your body amplifies the effects of EMFs. These effects may not manifest immediately, but they do have devastating effects further down the road.
Nonetheless, there are some immediate symptoms you need to watch out for as they could be a sign that you are sensitive or allergic to the EMF radiation being emitted by the Fitbit. This illness is referred to as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS). Here are some past complaints users reported about the various Fitbit models.
Looking for an alternative? Here are some fitness trackers that don’t require bluetooth or a smartphone.
Fitbit Alta User Complaints – Fitbit causing heart palpitations?
This is one of the smaller Fitbit models available. The common misconception users have about it is that it emits a lower amount of radiation than other models because of its compact size. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Size has no bearing on the amount of radiation a device emits. It still produces a significant amount of EMF that’s enough to cause health problems for the people wearing it.
Numerous users have reported experiencing physical side effects from continuously wearing the device. Some of the most common ones include feeling dizzy and experiencing frequent headaches that don’t go away even with medication.
Others report heart palpitations and erratic pulse rhythms. Some users also report having difficulty falling and staying asleep while wearing the device, leaving them feeling fatigued throughout the day.
Fitbit Charge User Complaints
This model is the larger one of the pack. It tracks heart rate, records steps taken, and calculates calories burned during exercise. Newer models are waterproof which makes them quite a popular choice for those who want to track how many calories they burned while swimming.
Fitbit Charge users raised different concerns from those who use the Alta. They reported experiencing static shock both when wearing the device and when they came into contact with something after they’d taken it off. Some also reported a noticeable rash and tingling sensation on their skin, particularly around the area where they wore the device.
Fitbit Aria Scale User Complaints
Unlike the conventional scales, you’ll come across, the Fitbit Aria scale does much more than just track your weight. It monitors trends in BMI and even provides data on your body fat and lean mass percentage. It stores data for up to eight users and provides real-time information on your current health status.
The downside to this scale is, to provide all these wonderful metrics, it uses EMFs to scan the body to obtain the data. While some might argue that they’re safer because they are not used all the time like the wearable watches, they still produce alarming levels of EMFs.
In some cases, users report feeling dizzy and lightheaded once they stepped off the scale. Interestingly, they also reported feeling better after a couple of hours went by.
Fitbit doesn’t recommend children aged below 13 years and pregnant women to use the device since it uses mild electric currents to calculate body fat percentage. If the EMF radiation that is generated by these currents isn’t good enough for children and pregnant women, is it safe at all? That’s the question users need to be asking.
Fitbit EMF Radiation Linked to Skin Ailments
There have been numerous rising complaints from Fitbit users about developing a skin rash within weeks of using the device. This isn’t a coincidence since one of the most common symptoms of EHS is skin irritation.
In 2014, the Fitbit Force was recalled by the company after thousands of complaints from users that the device was causing rashes and other skin irritations. The company, however, attributed this to them being allergic to an alloy that was used in making the band, an assertion that the affected users strongly refuted. Many of them also reported experiencing deep tissue pain, which only started after they began using the gadget.
What was even more surprising was that similar complaints continue to be reported even with new versions of Fitbit being released. It is unlikely that the company would continue to manufacture devices using the same irritants that were responsible for the widespread allergic reactions that plagued their customers. A more plausible explanation is that something else altogether is responsible for the skin injuries Fitbit users sustained.
How Fitbit EMF Radiation Affects Sleep
One of the features that many Fitbit lovers live for is its ability to track and provide information about people’s sleeping patterns. Its sensors and algorithms monitor your heart rate and movement to provide information about your sleep stages. It even has a sleep-schedule feature to keep you on a consistent sleep-wake routine and a silent alarm that gently wakes users from their deep slumber.
For this to happen, users have to wear the device throughout the night, which increases the likelihood of your body absorbing more EMF. What many people fail to realize is how counterintuitive doing this is.
A recent study revealed that EMF negatively impacts the body’s innate ability to produce melatonin, which is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. The production of this hormone is influenced by the presence (and absence) of light.
The brain’s pineal gland interprets EMF radiation as a form of light. This inhibits melatonin production. The body, therefore, believes that it is daytime, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. This is the main reason why people find it difficult to fall asleep in rooms that have a substantial amount of ambient EMF radiation. It’s no surprise then that wearing your Fitbit to bed may ultimately be the source of many sleepless nights.
What Fitbit Has to Say About the EMF Radiation from Their Devices
There have been many concerns directed to the company over the years about the RF and EMF radiation emitted by their devices. Fitbit has maintained that despite their devices emitting radiation, the levels are insufficient to cause bodily harm to users.
According to them, all their devices are compliant with the existing FCC regulations on Bluetooth BLE. They also state that the power output of any Fitbit device is less than 1% compared to that produced by a cell phone. Unfortunately, they don’t provide any testing evidence to support their claims.
What’s even more disconcerting is that the measurements used in the FCC regulations are based on a cell phone kept at a 6-inch distance from its user. Fitbits are used directly against the body and for as long as 24 hours in some cases.
While it may be true that cell phones emit much higher levels of radiation than Fitbits, this is not an accurate comparison since Fitbits are worn for longer than the average time people spend using their cell phones.
Are the Green Lights on Fitbit Harmful?
The green lights on the Fitbit can be harmful if you have a skin allergy to LED lights. According to Fitbit, the green light is “the optical heart-rate sensor” and it “flashes its green LEDs many times per second and uses light-sensitive photodiodes to detect these volume changes in the capillaries above your wrist. Then your device calculates how many times your heart beats per minute (bpm).”
If you have a skin sensitivity to the LED lights, you can turn off the heart rate sensor in the device settings.
FCC Regulations on EMF Radiation: Why They Can’t Be Trusted
To be fair, FCC regulations have been widely criticized by many researchers and scientists for being far below what would be considered “safe” EMF exposure levels. Take the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for instance. This is an indicator of the level of EMF radiation that is absorbed by the body tissues when you’re using a cell phone.
Fitbit uses these numbers as their basis for comparison to prove that their products are safe for use. Here are three reasons why this assertion doesn’t hold.
- SAR measurements are based on the adult brain. It is established that children’s bodies are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF radiation since their organs are not mature. For this reason, they absorb twice the amount of radiation adults do.
- SAR measurements are based on cell phones being used directly against the head. They don’t provide information on what levels of radiation they emit when they’re not being used.
- The dummies used in testing have liquids in them, which are supposed to be a representation of the human brain and tissue matter. In reality, people wear metallic accessories like earrings, bracelets, and necklaces that act as antennas amplifying the rate at which the human body absorbs EMFs.
What’s even more alarming is the FCC EMF radiation guidelines are nowhere near what other industrialized nations consider safe. Manufacturers in those countries are held to a much higher standard to minimize the risk posed by devices that emit RF and EMF radiation.
There are also many powerful political and economic forces in play fighting to ensure that these guidelines remain as they are. If you’re in doubt as to the radiation levels Fitbits emit, get your hands on an EMF meter and check out the numbers for yourself.
Fitbit Without Radiation?
After reviewing the available settings for all current Fitbit models (Fitbit manuals – if you want to review all settings), unfortunately you cannot disable Bluetooth on any Fitbits. Bluetooth is the main sources of radiation in the form of RF radiation.
If you are interested in a pedometer or fitness tracker where you can turn off the Bluetooth the Garmin vivosmart 4 (available from Amazon) allows you to turn off Bluetooth in the settings:
Settings > Select the Phone Icon > Select the Bluetooth Icon > Off
Do Fitbits Cause Cancer?
Either way you look at it, prolonged exposure to EMF radiation carries with it a cancer risk. There have been studies that link both non-ionizing radiation and the use of cell phones with the development of cancerous tumors referred to as glioma. These typically manifest on the side of the brain where users hold their mobile phones.
Wi-Fi routers, cell towers, and smart meters emit significantly more EMF radiation than Fitbits. So are they more likely to cause cancer? Maybe. But consider the Fitbit rests directly on your body. This is all gets us to the question: are Fitbits associated with increased cancer risk?
Fitbits emit non-ionizing RF and EMF radiation. Prolonged exposure to both of these, even at extremely low levels has been known to be associated with cancer. FCC regulations for acceptable intensities of RF/EMF radiations are way below safe levels. You are better off minimizing your exposure to Fitbit EMF radiation to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer as a result of using the product.
If you are concerned about staying on the path to wellness, consider using radiation-free activity trackers instead. A digital pedometer is a great EMF-free alternative. That way, you can monitor your fitness progress without running the risk of developing cancer in the long run. Here’s my favorite from Amazon. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t have Bluetooth technology.
Final Thoughts – Are Fitbits Bad for You?
In the modern world, it is impossible to escape radiation. You just need to figure out reliable ways to minimize exposure and ditch EMF emitting devices for safer and healthier alternatives. Fitbits happen to fall into this category of gadgets.
If that amount is more than what you’re comfortable with after educating yourself on the health risks. just don’t wear it. Or you can minimize the exposure by doing things like turning off the heart rate sensor.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons of using them and decide if it’s worth the risk. Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on Fitbit EMF radiations to help you make an informed decision.
You might be interested in: A Guide to EMF Protection Clothing
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Philips, Henshaw, Lamburn, O’Carroll, Brain Tumours: Rise in Glioblastoma Multiforme Incidence in England 1995–2015 Suggests an Adverse Environmental or Lifestyle Factor. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Volume 2018.