A soft wearable tracker is more reliable than traditional predictors for assessing risk. (Credit: Getty Images)

A recent study shows that wearable accelerometers — mechanical sensors worn like a watch, belt, or bracelet to track movement — are a more reliable measure of physical activity and better than patient surveys and other methods used by physicians at assessing five-year risk of death in older adults.

The research also added to evidence that an accurate and objective accounting of physical activity outperforms traditional predictors of mortality within five years, such as age, smoking, diabetes, alcohol use, or history of cancer or heart disease.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers looked at 33 predictors of five-year all-cause mortality, including 20 objective measures of physical activity, such as total activity, amount of time not moving, or amount of time doing moderate to vigorous activity.

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