|Courtesy of smartwatchnews.org|
Does your Activity Tracker Really Know What Your Health Is?
You see them everywhere. On your friends and co-works belts, necklaces, shoes and wrists. Futuristic bracelets, watches, clasps and jewelry that track your body's vital statistics, daily activities and exercise. But do they work? Are they a help or a hindrance to your efforts to get fit, stay healthy and be injury free, on your way to wellness nirvana. In this episode of Working The Web to Win we will cover the latest craze generally referred to as "activity trackers". We will discuss the pros and cons of many of the top sellers and also delve into the logistics of searching for, buying, and using these fascinating self-spying devices that are taking the world by storm.
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I have used pedometers for many years and I always found them useful. However, I also found that I would break or lose many of them as they were usually attached to my belt. This made them more susceptible to being hit or lost. This article is my way of sharing what I have learned. Also you should know that no one is paying me for my endorsement or opinion.
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Here are important questions everyone should be asking if they are thinking about getting an activity tracker.
Should I get one? If you're trying to lose weight or improve your health, then the answer is yes. The strength of these devices is they provide immediate feedback. In sports and in health, prompt feedback is the breakfast of champions.
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Must have items and cost? – You need to know your budget, since these devices range in price from about $20 to well over $600. The most expensive is also not necessarily the best or the right one for your lifestyle. In the $20 to $99 range you will find the semi mechanical pedometers, Chinese imports and entry level name brand devices. The best and easiest to use seem to be in the $50 range if you’re looking for an entry level device.
Look at the Fitbit
Zip, the Misfit Shine and the Jawbone Up. At the $100 to $200 range,
you will find greater sophistication and heart rate monitoring (GPS tracking is
available via your smartphone in some models). I like the Fitbit Charge, Charge
HR and the Garmin Vivofit/Fit2
and the Jawbone UP2/3. In the $200 to $400 range you’ll find build in GPS tracking
in some models. You will also begin to enter
the smart watch arena price range. Here is where additional functionality starts
to ratchet up the prices. If you're thinking of going the smart watch route, stick
to which every smart phone family you use (Apple, Samsung or Microsoft). Also, this
is where sport and exercise specific devices come into play as well. Both Garmin
and Polar have a wide variety
of specialized exercise trackers that fit this category.
|Courtesy of Fitbit.com|
Must Know Items! A number of these devices need to be paired with a newer smartphone (Android 4.3 or later and iPhone 4 and up). Some also require Bluetooth 4.0. There are several that will work just with your computer if it has Bluetooth. Some use a USB cable to share data (almost all have specialized USB cables for charging) and some come with a Bluetooth dongle to connect your tracker to your computer. Check the manufacturer's warranty, some companies only warranty devices "sold through authorized reseller". This seems straightforward except for the fact that most don't list any or all of their authorized outlets. For example; Fitbit is being sold by many more companies than listed on their website. Companies like Sam's Club and Costco are not listed but they sell their products. Also, their are dozens of eBay and Amazon reseller not listed as well. Don't get caught between Fitbit's ambiguous warranty and the reseller you purchased it from. Find out the return policy and the warranty upfront. One last item to check is the support communities for complaints and product issues. This will keep you from being surprised later on. When you look in Fitbits communities site, you will see many complaints about inaccurate trackers and other problems you would not expect to see from a product you paid 100+ dollars for. Doing a search in Google for reviews and complaints for the product you're researching, will also open your eye's to issue not listed on the company's product brochure or website!
|Courtesy of ebay seller - goldenwattle-au|
Who Makes the Best Activity Tracker? If you do some research you will find that certain manufactures and models come up over and over again. That's because these products, on average, are the best products on the market today. Many made the top 10 list because the author or reviewer of the device emphasized the aspects they liked most. Aspects like ease of use, quality of the accompanying app, measuring certain activity/health functions (aka heart rate, sleep, GPS tracking), measuring certain kinds of exercise, having third party vendor support and online community support. Fitbit, MistFit, Jawbone, Garmin and Polar show up over and over again, regardless of the price category.
Check out EZVID top 10 fitness trackers video
Where to find products and how to get the best deal. You can buy these activity trackers almost anywhere. Many department stores have them. Most sporting goods stores carry them, but a few of the higher end smart watches can only be had in Apple, or Microsoft stores. This will change, since the evolution of these products is happening at a rapid pace. I also found you can get them on Amazon, EBay and AliExpress.com.
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How to Choose? Your reason for choosing one of the devices is going to be determined by one of several factors. These factors will include your budget first, followed by whether you're already active or not and then by individual features. Many of my friends who are runners chose activity trackers that were designed for runners by runners. If you’re into swimming, then a water proof model will be very important. If you’re trying to lose weight, then tracking your general activity 24/7 will be the most important thing. As a rule I have found that if you’re the average person just looking to improve your health by understanding your activity, you will choose an entry to mid-level products manufactured by Fitbit, Jawbone, MisFit, Garmin, or Polar. Whereas if you’re already into lots of fitness activities you will choose the upper middle to top of the line Fitbit Garmin or Polar products. If you’re into style and are also looking for a device that does many other things, you should opt for a smart watch. By the way, there are literally over a hundred manufactures of activity trackers today. These are the crème dela crème.
Check out RizKnow Video on his the top 5 picks for 2015
I have seen some people report problems with some of these devices, although I have not had this issue myself. A quick internet search will bring up YouTube videos sharing favorites and complaints all in the same episode. Some of the items I will warn you about have more to do with expectations than products having major defects. I have heard of inaccurate/inconsistent HR monitoring on devices that don’t have a chest strap. Apps locking up on smartphones and incompatible issues with older smart phones. I have also seen a few complaints about products not being waterproof enough. The truth is this: If you’re buying a $150 device because it has a heart rate monitor, don’t expect it to be as accurate as a $300 device that has a chest strap. If you want it to track every kind of exercise expect to pay more. Here is a list of the top features I recommend having along with a list of nice to have features as well.
A list of must have features.
- Standard measurements and stats – steps, distance, time, calories, sleep.
- Alarms to tell you when you reached your goal/s and to remind you to snack.
- Databases – Type of workouts, food and beverage calories, workout histories, consumption calorie intake history.
- A top notch, easy to use smartphone app.
- Community and product support via an online portal.
- Battery that lasts at least a week. The longer the better.
- Inactivity alerts and alarms.
- Heart rate monitoring.
- GPS Tracking w/o smartphone.
- Smartphone notifications for calls, text and emails.
- Waterproofing if you swim a lot.
- Sports specific features if you cycle, swim, box, lift weights etc.….
My experience with the Fitbit Charge has been great. I find myself wanting to go for long walks and paying much closer attention to what I eat on a daily basis. I have lost over 15 lbs. in the first 30 days of using my Fitbit Charge. As a health improvement tool it’s great. Many of my friends who use their trackers have also reported losing significant weight as well. I believe these types of devices can provide extra motivation to help you stay on track for weight loss and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
|Courtesy of fitbit.com|
However, make no mistake. These devices do not do the walking or exercise for you. They will not automatically enter the food you eat or the water you drink. You still need to do that yourself. You still need to pay attention to what the activity tracker is telling you. These devices help by automatically tracking your steps, runs exercise and then automatically calculate your calorie burn. Many will even automatically track your sleep. If you do your part (i.e. walk/run/exercise and record your daily food/water consumption) these devices will give you everything you need to successfully improve your health. The feedback they provide will show you your calorie consumption verses your calorie burn, and this will guide you to a better understanding of your activity that creates your health.
What's the best for the money? – After researching over a dozen articles, watching twice as many videos and looking at about ½ dozen of the activity trackers, I like the Garmin VIVOFit II. I also really like the Fitbit charge. The Fitbit would normally be my first choice except that Fitbit's warranty leaves a something to be desired. If you’re into a specific sport (cycling, running, swimming, weight lifting, boxing, etc.…) you’re probably going to choose a different model. Also don't worry if, yours is the best. New models will be out every year and everyone will upgrade or buy another model sooner or later.
|VIVO Fit II Rated Best Tracker - Courtesy of Garmin.com|
Here is a list of great products worth mentioning. Top products in the more strict "Activity Trackers Category" (along with their websites) are:
Fitbit - Zip, One, Flex, Charge and Charge HR, Surge
In the Smart Watch Category I have included:
In the Smart Watch Category I have included:
In this article I have discussed the latest batch of smart activity trackers that are showing up on many of the health conscience consumers these days. This article covers what features to look for, how to find one to fit your budget and it makes recommendations for the average user as well as those who participate in various sports and exercise activities. By the way, if you leave a relevant comment and sign up for our free book you will be entered to win a free activity trackers I purchased as a research item for this article. Make sure you leave your name in the comment section as well. The random drawing will be held on June 2nd live, on that day's Working the Web to Win Blog Talk Radio show.
If you want to learn even more on this subject, tune in to our “Working the Web to Win” radio show on Blog Talk Radio. You may also be interested in our article called More Star Trek Tech, New Year New Tech and New Advances in Telemedicine - Taking Your Medicine Online. You can also search this site for articles on new technological developments by typing in your keywords in the search box at the top left of this blog. If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, family and co-workers.
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Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success and co-author of Working the Web to Win.”