Checking for your health status or getting it checked with a Doctor is the best way, but who really would spend that time for regular visits? that’s where the portable, wearable and easy-to-use fitness trackers play a major role. When you are starting a fitness program, it is wise to keep a track of it and check the progress of it, if not for health, then for motivating yourself for the next one.
Now, with the market booming with the wearable gadgets, and most of them having the fitness tracking as the main feature, it isn’t easy to select the best one. Read below for the main points to consider while selecting the best fitness tracker.
- Style, Ease of wear
- Sensors included
- Battery Life, Charging options
- Weather resistance
- Syncing, Compatibility and Apps
- Extra Features
Tracking the Activity
A tracker / monitor should be able to track the following daily activities, and just more than the regular counting, which is possible even on your smartphones that have the pedometer to count the steps throughout the day. Some or all the features which help in finding out the current health status include the following:
- Tracking the number of steps walked
- Tracking the number of steps / floors claimed
- The distance traveled on a daily basis
- Checking the speed of walk/jog
- Counting the number of calories burned, based on steps and speed
- Tracking the sleep and inactivity
If a fitness tracker checks only the number of steps and not the floors, the distance, sleep, then the complete tracking isn’t done. But again, if you are someone who sets the goals only for a certain activity, i.e. the daily count of a number of steps etc., then you don’t need to look at everything above because most of the trackers do the basic job of tracking the steps.
Style, Ease of wear
It is one of the important factors again, apart from the actual activity tracking. First choose where you are going to wear the tracker – wrist, arm, chest, keep it in a pocket, tug it the collar or anywhere else. There is a huge variety of trackers available in the market, doing the same job, and you might end up choosing one which you didn’t want to have the strap which can be worn on your wrist, so be selective about it.
The next thing you need to check is – Display. Check whether there is a display on the tracker device, to show the time, date and shows the steps count or whatever motivates you to do more. But again, if you are someone who doesn’t take care of the stuff, a display could get damaged anytime, so understand whether you need a display on the tracker or are pretty fine with the stats shown in a smartphone.
If you are someone who would wear the tracker as a wristband, a few things you need to check –
– Rigidness of the band – whether you want a flexible one or a tough one which doesn’t change its shape.
– Color of the band, and whether there are interchangeable straps for it.
– Whether the size of the band can be altered, for the different wrist sizes.
The sensors included
Sensors are what does all the tracking possible. The sensors such as Pedometer, Accelerometer, GPS would track the steps and the distance travelled along with the speed to bring out the outcome including the number of calories burned. Check for what all sensors the tracking device has got, to understand how good it would be when it comes to functionality.
Battery life and charging options
Some activity trackers come with just a few days of battery life, and this is the most annoying where you need to keep this scheduled that the device has to be charged every week, just like you keep your phone plugged to the charging point every night. There are a few which have months of battery life with the specialized batteries, which cannot be charged. Choose whether you are fine with something that can be charged by you anytime or something that doesn’t want to bug you with a low battery warning regularly, but you don’t have the option to change the battery very easily.
There are coin cell batteries and cylindrical cell batteries in these trackers, and you need to check the battery life stated by the company.
Next comes the charging options. While most of the smartphones come with the same MicroUSB slot for charging and data transfer, the case is different with activity trackers. Here you would see most of the devices having their proprietary chargers, and that is quite an issue for the users who frequently travel, and have to carry the chargers along. That is even worse when you lose the charger, and there is nothing you can do until a new one gets shipped.
A slight drizzle won’t stop you from your daily round jogging, right? The same can make you hide your devices from the water and tough weather conditions. But there are a few health trackers which have all the resistance features such as waterproofing and dust resistance, so you don’t have to worry about its safety. The same could be an advantage for the swimmers who want to keep it worn while they dive in the pool.
Important: Understand the difference between waterproofing and water resistance. The water resistance feature in the fitness tracker helps in withstanding the sweat, water splashes etc., but you would be risking it if you are submerging it in water, while the waterproof feature in the device would keep it safe from water everywhere, including the completed submerging in a swimming pool.
Syncing, Compatibility and Apps
While choosing a good fitness tracker, you need to check how you are going to get the stats. There is wired and wireless syncing, and it’s the wireless one which one should prefer. I used the Jawbone Up fitness band, and it could sync with the app to show the stats, only using the 3.5mm pin to insert in the headset jack, but the next version of it, the Jawbone Up 24 came with the Bluetooth connectivity for the wireless syncing. That is always better, although it would be a bit more battery consuming.
The compatibility also needs to be checked, where the fitness tracker can sync with the various mobile OS, i.e. Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc. and also with the desktop OS, i.e. Windows and Mac OS.
There are various connectivity options including Bluetooth 4.0 (Smart), Bluetooth 3.0, Bluetooth 2.0, Headphone Jack, Touchscreen, Wi-Fi, one or two of which are used by the trackers to sync the data with the compatible devices. Bluetooth 4.0 uses very low power when compared to the earlier versions of Bluetooth, so if something with the latest Bluetooth versions is available, its wise to choose the same.
Most of the activity trackers come with the apps for the different mobile OS to give the stats of the steps counted, calories burnt and all these are shown in graphs and charts. These do nothing more than motivation for you to do better. But you should be able to do more than just checking these stats, i.e. setting personal goals for fitness, which would help you do more than what you would do without a proper tracking.
When there is some extra, it always makes the fitness tracker better than the others in its league. Some of the important extras to look out for, and consider as a plus if any of these are found in the fitness tracker, include the following:
- Heart rate sensor – A sensor which checks your heart rate before, during and after a workout, after a jog or any activity, would be a big addition to the list of features you wanted in a fitness tracker.
- Multisport Tracking – If you are someone who does more than the jogging, must a tracker which tracks the different activities, such as cycling, swimming, push-ups and such.
- Alarms / vibrating alerts – The fitness tracker should do something like the personal assistance, where you would be notified by alarm if you are inactive for a particular minimum time. Set it up, and it would alarm you after a couple hours if you have been sitting in a particular place.
There is a lot more which you can consider while choosing the best fitness tracker for your personal use, to keep a track of all the fitness activities and your fitness levels, but the ones we talked about were the basic ones to keep a checklist of.