There are many different activity/fitness trackers on the market…
Fitbit, Jawbone, Polar… so which one is best?
Whichever one works best for YOU.
Recently I have been researching different fitness tracker watches as the strap on my Polar FT7 watch (below) broke. This was sooo sad as I relied on this watch for all my intense workouts! This watch has a heart rate monitor strap as well that you strap on under your sports bra. The watch tracks time, heart rate (wirelessly!!), and calories burned during your workout. Perfect for long runs, circuit workouts, and even pilates to see how much your body actually worked and how many calories were burned.
It was a great watch, but after researching all the different trackers out there, I realized why I love my new FitBit Charge (HR) soo much more.
The Fitbit Charge HR is a smaller watch, which tracks my overall steps taken during the day, my sleep, flights of stairs climbed, heart rate, overall calories burned, distance walked/ran, and even gives you the choice of setting a silent alarm to slowly vibrate and wake you up in the mornings.
It does it all.
It even links wirelessly to your phone so you can see all your stats on your phone or computer, lets you track your calories eaten with a food log, and even shows you who is calling you from your phone on the watch’s face. Not too shabby, huh?
I have to say I would have love to have gotten the “plum” color above, but they were out of it at Target, so I settled with classy and chic black. They are also coming out with a blue one and an orange one in the near future.
There are so many reasons why I love wearing a fitness tracker and why I prefer the Fitbit Charge HR.
Here are just some of the many benefits of wearing a fitness/activity tracker:
Tracking your heart rate
- Your heart rate shows you how fast your heart is contracting, in heartbeats per minute usually. The higher the heart rate, the faster your heart is pumping and working. For increased fat burn and exercise benefits, your heart rate should be higher than whatever it usually is at rest. The FitBit reads your heart rate wirelessly through your wrist’s pulse. For most fitness watches, you have to have a long strap placed under your chest to get a heart rate tracking. The wireless benefit of the FitBit is a huge deal for me. It enables you to track your heart rate continuously all day, without the additional discomfort of putting on and taking off a heart rate monitor strap. And as for the accuracy, my personal experience has shown that with comparing my heart rate to the polar watch with the strap, it is just as accurate. By tracking your pulse, the estimated calorie burn is wayyyy more accurate. This is of course, very important to make sure you are getting the most out of your exercise and diet plan. It also helps you see your target heart rate when you are burning the most. You can pump up the intensity of your workouts by trying to hit a target heart rate. On the FitBit, you can set a target heart rate zone so you know when you’re pushing yourself, but also to make sure you don’t overdo it. You can easily glance at your heart rate on the watch’s face during workouts with the push of a button.
This is another explanation of heart rate tracking taken from FitBit’s website:
“Your muscles need oxygen to burn calories and generate energy. Since exercise requires more energy, your heart beats faster to deliver more oxygen through the blood.
By measuring how fast your heart is beating, Fitbit trackers with PurePulse technology can more accurately gauge how many calories you’re burning.
As fitness improves, your heart becomes more efficient, and is able to pump more blood and oxygen to your muscles with every beat—which is why a decrease in resting heart rate suggests improved health.”
SO, even if you choose a fitness watch with a heart rate monitor strap, you are still getting all of these benefits of tracking your heart rate. I just personally prefer the wireless technology with the FitBit Charge HR.
- The FitBit tracks your sleep without you even having to press a button, as long as you wear your fitbit to bed. It logs how many times you are restless and how many times you are awake during sleep, and shows you when on a graph the next morning. You can see which nights you slept better, and which nights you slept worse, and try to see what helps you get your best nights’ rest.
- The polar watch I used to use was just helpful for tracking exercise, not all day activity. Therefore, I would only wear it for my workouts and that was it. With the Fitbit, it tracks my calories burned throughout the WHOLE day, so I get a better picture of how efficient my body is at burning calories at rest too. This is helpful in order to know how many calories to eat to lose or maintain your weight. For instance, I realized on work days I burn less calories overall then on a weekend (duh, that’s obvious). So, my tracking my food and calorie intake, I can still stay on target on days that I am burning less overall. Not only this, but you can hit the button on the side of the fitbit as you start a workout (whether it be running, circuit training, yoga, hiking, soccer, whatever) and it will track the calories, steps taken, distance, etc. in that workout alone! AND then it adds it to your total day. SOO helpful. For example, yesterday I burned 2,106 calories and consumed around 1,923. Therefore I was still taking in less calories than I burned in a day (which avoids weight gain). BOOM! This gives you a better idea of “do I have room for dessert tonight?”
- The food log is optional, as it is something you track on your phone or computer, but it is still a large part of the fitbit app. I can’t say enough how useful it really is! By tracking what you eat, you get an idea of how many calories you are actually consuming, how much you need to be consuming if you are trying to lose weight, and it really opens your eyes to mindless eating. For instance, I realized the granola I snacked on recently was over 300 calories, when I could have eaten tons of fresh fruit, yogurt, and low-fat cereal for around the same amount of calories. It helps me personally keep my portion sizes in check. Especially for people who drink alcohol (cough cough all my fellow wine lovers) it really shows you how quickly calories add up when you consume 1,2,3….etc glasses of wine during some nights per week. By realizing areas you need to cut back on, you can start making healthier changes. For instance, on days that I have plenty of calories left in my “bank account” for the night, I will have a nice dinner with some wine and maybe a little dessert for dinner. It truly is like a check book, you gotta balance what goes in and what goes out!
- The step tracking was the first feature ever introduced on the fitbit early modules, based off a simple pedometer. More steps throughout the day leads to a better metabolism, better weight management, and overall healthier lifestyle. By seeing hoq many steps per day you normally get, you can challenge yourself to increase it even more and set a target goal per day. Just by wearing my FitBit and seeing my steps taken, I am more likely to take a walk during lunch to reach my steps and walk to places rather than call, drive, etc.
- Instead of waking up abruptly to an annoyingly loud alarm clock, you can set an alarm time on your fitbit watch, and it will gradually wake you up within a 10-30 min window of that time when you are at your best time to be awakened. It first buzzes slowly, then gradually buzzes quicker and harder for you to wake up. It is the easiest way to gradually wake up so you aren’t groggy in the morning. I love this feature!
- By tracking your workouts, you can see how many calories you are actually burning, what your heart rate is, and how far youve gone (if you are walking, cycling, running, etc.). This enables you to see how many calories each workouts burn to determine what works best for you and your goals, it helps you see how many calories a workout burns to keep tabs on your daily calorie intake with foods and balancing it all, and it helps you see your progress by tracking your heart rate and calories burned each session. This is a HUGE plus to the new fitness trackers. Before, fitness wtaches mainly tracked either just steps or just workouts, so the combination of all day tracking in addition to exercise is incredible. That way you really can track your progress throughout the whole day. I have read many articles recently that state sedantary behavior is linked to a higher risk of cancer, premature death, and obesity (no surprise there). BUT, what shocked me if that even with 60 minutes of exercise per day, if you are sitting most of the day you still have the same risks, even with some exercise. This means that to really improve your health, you need to have bouts of activity ALL day and get up between long periods of sitting. Therefore working out AND small bouts of exercise can really help you stay healthy. So instead of exercising and laying on the couch for the rest of the day, it’s better to do some exercise but also take the stairs, walk, and just staying on your feet for other periods of the day too. These fitness trackers can help promote this type of lifestyle because it truly shows you both exercise and overall daily activity.
The hottest fitness trackers of 2015:
Jawbone UP3 ($179.99…not out yet, doing pre-orders, est shipping early May)
- Pros: Smart Coaching feature, not a bad price for its features. Newest features that the older model does not include: it comes with advanced activity features that can differentiate exercises, such as swimming, running and tennis, to better gauge accurate calorie burning. It also includes sleep tracking, which can signify REM, light and deep sleep, and gives you recommendations on how to improve your stats. Up to 7 days battery life, better than most trackers. Another perk: it is waterproof. You can swim in it!
- Cons: Not out yet. Silver band is adorable but that will be released later; only black available first. Does not have a watch interface to see stats; must look them up on phone or computer.
- Pros: Stylish, sleek watch that looks more like a bracelet than a fitness tracker. Perfect for “fashionistas”. Detachable tracker so you can pop the smaller device in your pocket. Tracks activity, steps, distance, calories burned, and elevation through a companion app like most bands. Has the addition of extra inspiration in the form of “boosts” that you can follow or not. Comes in 3 different sizes and 2 stylish colors. Up to 5 day charge.
- Cons: Doesn’t ship until late March. Detachable tracker may be easily lost. Doesn’t have viewable stats on watch face.
FitBit Charge ($130)
- Pros: Tracks sleep, steps, distance, overall daily calories burned, and sleep. Silent alarm option. Long battery life. Tracks sleep without having to put it into sleep mode or press a button; does it automatically upon sleep. Visual interface on the watch so you can see all your stats on demand.
- Cons: No heart rate monitoring which makes the calorie tracking less accurate.
FitBit Charge HR ($150…what I have)
- Pros: Great price for its features. Has wireless heart rate monitoring. Tracks sleep, steps, distance, overall daily calories burned, and sleep. Silent alarm option. Long battery life. Tracks sleep without having to put it into sleep mode or press a button; does it automatically upon sleep.
- Cons: Only sold in black and plum right now. Have to wait on the fun bright colors coming soon. May cause a red rash/skin irritation, however this has only been reported in a tiny percentage of users. The last FitBit was recalled for this issue so they ensured the watches wouldn’t be as irritative this time. (I have not experienced any skin irritation). Not fully waterproof, must be taken off to shower. Have to charge every few days.
Fitbit Surge ($250)
- Pros: Great for runners- Tracks GPS, continuous heart rate, run pace, elevation climbed, split distance, all-day activity stats and sleep. Includes smart notifications and music control. Similar to the FitBit Charge HR, but with extra exercise tracking, GPS and music control.
- Cons: higher price, accuracy might not be the best. Bulkier feel.
Garmin Vivoactive ($250…not out yet, taking pre-orders expected to come out 1st quarter of ’15)
- Pros: Connect IQ Apps, Move Bar Alert (alerts you to get up and move after 1 hour of inactivity), sunlight readable, rechargeable 3-Week Battery, Counts your steps, calories, and monitors Heart Rate. Syncs wireless to your phone for Caller ID, text alerts, calendar alerts and GPS tracking which is great for runners and getting accurate mileage. Customizable colored bands with up to 9 colors to choose from. Sleek watch face and design.
- Cons: higher price, not released yet. Large interface. A bit complicated for those who aren’t hard core athletes needing the extra sports & exercise tracking.
Garmin Vivofit 2 ($130 regular, $170 with HR monitor)
- Pros: After 1 hour of inactivity, the activity band alerts you to get up and move! Perfect for people who get lost into working and need a little reminder to get up and stretch, walk around, etc. Our body’s metabolism slows way down after 1 hour of sitting, so this is a great feature that other trackers don’t have. It has a red bar that builds every 15 minutes after an hour of inactivity that you have to walk around to get it to stop. So it does actually make you move! It also tracks exercise, calories burned, sleep, steps, etc all like the other devices and displays them on the watch interface. They come in 4 different colors and just like the FitBit, you can buy the heart rate monitor version or the regular version. Has a 1-YEAR battery life with removable battery.
- Cons: Regular tracker does not come with HR monitor, simple display.
Pivotal Living ($12/month for a subscription)
- Pros: Most Affordable. With just a $12/month subscription fee, you get a free tracker that is very similar to the FitBit Charge. It syncs wirelessly to your phone and its mobile app and tracks your daily steps, distance, calories, and sleep. It also has the ability to set a silent alarm. You can see the stats on the watch without having to look them up on your phone. Since it’s a monthly subscription, it also enables you to download new updates as they come out on the same device. Also has a reminder when you’ve been inactive for too long to get up and get moving.
- Cons: No one time fee, have to remember to pay monthly to continue the service. No specific exercise tracker or heart rate monitoring, just overall steps, distance, and calorie burn.
TomTom Cardio Runner ($270)
- Pros: GPS with built-in heart rate monitor (that is accurate, too!). Amazing watch for runners (they do have a muti-sport version as well for other types of exercisers, not just running). Tracks calories burned, distance, pace, laps, etc. Big, bright, easy to read screen.
- Cons: bulky, expensive, only tracks running. 8 hrs of battery. Not an all-day tracking device, but great for serious runners looking to improve their time and distance.
A brief article on a recent Kid initiative using fitness bands:
Article here: http://mashable.com/2015/02/25/unicef-kid-power/
Program overview: http://unicefkidpower.org/index.html
Let’s get this nation’s obesity rates down and tackle it once and for all! GET MOVING!! 🙂
*I was not compensated for any of these reviews in any way. All opinions seen here are my own, based on my own experiences! Just FYI 🙂