Fitness Trackers: Finding One That’s Right For You
Wearable fitness trackers are a great way to get moving, set fitness goals, and track your physical activity including steps and miles per day. They have become really popular over the past few years and the latest models have tons of cool new features!
If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker, but don’t know where to start, first check out this incredibly helpful article from Reviews.com. They have done their research and compared all the features of the top fitness trackers on market to help you decide which one is right for you! Out of 87 contenders, I was happy to see that my Charge 2 made it into their Top 3.
The article compares and contrasts features such as size, comfort, accuracy, syncing capabilities, user-friendliness of the app, heart rate and other cool perks of their top picks. While none of the devices proved to be 100% accurate, simply using a fitness tracker over time can help you keep tabs on your activity levels and motivate you to stick to your goals.
My History With Fitness Trackers
When the original Fitbit Flex first came out several years ago, I was super excited and had to have one. It was a simple design with a removable tracker concealed inside of a rubbery colored strap worn on your wrist. The Flex tracked your steps per day using flashing dots (2000 steps = 1 dot) displayed on a tiny screen. When you reached 10,000 steps (or whatever your goal was set to), your wrist band would vibrate and the dots would flash, congratulating you on reaching your goal.
The problem with the Flex was that I went through so many bands and three different trackers. The cheap rubber straps kept breaking or falling off. One time it fell off, I didn’t even know, so not only did I lose the strap but also my $100 tracker. Another time, my tracker just decided one day to stop syncing with the app on my iPhone… Fitbit did send me a replacement for this one! And finally though, my dog Zora (in her puppy stage) got a hold of it while it was on my nightstand and devoured the whole thing- strap and tracker. I got tired of buying replacement bands and/or trackers and took the next two years off of fitness trackers and just wore a watch.
(Note: Fitbit now has the newer model Flex 2 which likely eliminates many of the issues I experienced… still make sure you do not leave it where your dog can eat it, haha!)
Then this past Christmas, I received the brand new Fitbit Charge 2 as a gift. I was excited to see what it was all about because it had a ton of cool features I didn’t get with the Flex like heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, call and text alerts, and guided breathing sessions!
Why I Love The Fitbit Charge 2
First of all, the strap of the Charge 2 is so much better! It is thicker, stronger, and wears like an adjustable watch band, so it will never fall off. Since the bands are interchangeable, you can customize the look and match your Fitbit to any outfit. There are 4 basic colors and 2 special edition bands on the Fitbit website, plus tons of others available on Amazon, including metal bracelet and genuine leather styles.
Setup was a breeze, just plug the tracker into the USB charging clip to get an initial charge, download the app on your phone, answer a few questions regarding goals and preferences and you’re good to go!
Next, there are so many bells & whistles, I don’t know where to begin! When you first tap the display screen, you’ll see the time, date, and how many steps you’ve walked for the day. Tap the screen again and it then will scroll through a series of displays to show your heart rate, miles, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, and hourly activity (hours with 250+ steps).
That is just ONE of the display modes. Press the button on the side your tracker and you will enter heart rate mode showing your beats per minute (BPM) and resting heart rate. Press again to enter the multi-sport tracking mode in which you can select running, weights, treadmill, elliptical, bike, or interval training. Hold the button down to begin the stopwatch as you begin your workout.
There’s also a separate stopwatch mode (which can double as a timer while cooking) and a relaxation mode which guides you through a series of breaths- deep inhales and exhales based on your real-time heart rate. These two or five minute guided breathing sessions are perfect to use throughout the day any time you’re feeling stressed or just need to calm down and become more focused.
The app is incredibly user-friendly. It’s easy to see your current stats and customize or adjust your goals whenever you need to. The Dashboard stores your weekly history of data so you can keep your activity consistent, notice when you’ve been slacking off, and know when you need to step it up.
If you wear your Fitbit while sleeping, the sleep tracker will show you how many hours you slept the night prior and your historical weekly average of hours slept. Each day you can also see your time slept in each stage of sleep: Awake, REM, Light, and Deep Sleep. Pretty cool stuff!
The Community tab within the app allows your to search for and join public groups like “Healthy Eating” or “Running” or simply find a group near you (i.e. San Diego), where everyone in the group can post motivating tips or photos they want to share with the group. Find friends from your contacts and Facebook friends who also use a Fitbit tracker and see how your weekly steps rank among your friends’ steps. Warning: this can get extremely competitive, but at the same time it’s also super motivating. I know I certainly don’t want to be at the bottom- I better step it up!
And finally, one of the coolest things about the Charge 2 is the call, text, and calendar alerts feature. Most of the time my phone is buried in my purse, in another room, or just not immediately accessible. With this feature, I can read my incoming texts and see who is calling me right on my wrist! If it’s an unknown number or a non-urgent text that doesn’t require a response, I don’t need to bother digging or diving for my phone.
With so many fitness trackers on the market, it’s a good idea to do your research and decide which one has the features that you really need at a price you are comfortable with spending. While I can only comment on my experience with the Fitbit brand, check out Reviews.com for a full comparison of all the top players in the fitness tracker game.
If you go with a Fitbit, I will say that my Charge 2 is definitely “bulkier” than the Flex. It is meant to be worn instead of a watch. So if you don’t want to replace your favorite watch, but want most of the cool features offered by the Charge 2, I would recommend checking out the Fitbit Alta or Alta HR, which can be worn on your non-watch wrist. My 7 -year-old son wears the Alta and he LOVES it! He always tries to beat me in daily steps, which is usually easy for a very active kid who plays sports, but occasionally I’ll see him pacing around the house at the end of day to catch up to me, haha!
What is your favorite fitness tracker? Tell me in the comments below!