For most part of my day I am either at my desk or on my couch. I started looking at my activity levels first through phone apps but that didn’t last long. I would invariably forget carrying my phone and then try to add in an approximate number of steps. I noticed my phone battery life was also taking a hit.
Then I considered buying a pedometer but even that is something you have to consciously keep on you at all times and does not keep track of day-wise history.
Finally, I gave in to looking at a fitness band and the number of options completely blew me away! From smart watches to ones that track your swims to your runs to your heart rate. Even when it comes to the price range – starting $15 (Rs 900) to as much as $250 (Rs15,000). You are completely spoilt for choice.
My basic requirement was that the device should be:
1. Something that I can wear 24 hours
2. It should accurately count my steps and have a good app interface through which I can see past history, etc.
3. Also, I should be easily able to tell if I am being too lazy in the day so that I get motivated to move around a little!
After using Fitbit Charge for over 3 months now, I know that I made a great choice. Here are a few things I love about this device:
1. Easy on the wrist: I have worn the band everyday from the time that I unpacked it. Even wearing a watch for too long feel uncomfortable to me and so this band came as a surprise as to how light and ‘forgettable’ it is. It has no sharp edges and it doesn’t get caught in anything. It is like wearing a plastic band that just sits on your wrist (slightly more fancy than a plastic band, but you know what I mean). The clasp on this one is brilliant and it just snaps into place. I can wear it loose without worrying about its accuracy (there are a few bands, especially the ones with the Heart Rate Monitors that you have to strap on tight for them to work well).
2. Great functionality: As far as I can figure, it uses the swing motion of the hand when we walk to count the number of steps. I have tested it several times counting my steps manually and then cross-checking with the reading – the counts are pretty much spot on.
Based on how much you move all day, it tells you how many minutes you have been active through the day. It tracks the number of floors you have climbed in the day. This functionality is not error proof though as I have noticed that sometimes it adds on an extra floor when I use the escalators. In lifts, most times it is accurate but I have noticed it adds extra floors on rare occasions.
Using all your activity data through the day, it also tells you how many calories you have burned in the day.
Other great stuff that I did not realise I would enjoy tracking:
Sleep!: Yup, there is a sleep tracker in the band which automatically senses when you have gone to sleep. Earlier bands had to be manually set with sleep and wake up time. But FitBit (and most other bands also now) has this on autopilot. It tracks down to the minute how many minutes you slept, records how many times you were restless (tossing and turning) and also how many times (if any) when you were awake.
I did not think much of it when I first saw it but over the last few weeks I have noticed that when my restless time reduces, I don’t feel tired in the mornings. I try to remember what I ate, what I did, what time I slept, etc the previous night. There is a pattern emerging but not enough to generalise just about now. (I will write a post on what I discover on this soon 😉 ). Needless to say this functionality of FitBit was a pleasant surprise.
Weight Info: There is also a weight tracker where you can manually enter your weight to see how you are faring over the weeks. This is great for me because even though I weigh myself every other week, I almost always forget what I weighed the previous time. Anyway, the app serves as a brilliant place to store all this data.
Calorie Info: You can also track the number of calories you have had by using the calorie counter in their app. I tried to use it once or twice but I am so used to myFitnessPal that I have not switched over yet.
Historic Data: The app itself it quite good at displaying the stats. You can review your history in the form of charts and view them by day or week, month or even yearly. All this data gets stored in the fitbit app in your phone. You can also view it online on the fitbit site on your desktop. The mobile app interface is quite good and I have only used the desktop version once out of curiosity.
3. It keeps me on my toes: When it comes to motivation these fitBit guys have it spot on. I love the weekly progress reports that they send. I have seen my activity levels go up from when I first bought the band. The report is motivating and so are the goals you set for yourself everyday.
For the first month, I did not change my lifestyle at all which allowed me to discover where I am really at. Once I knew my average – steps, calorie burn, floors climbed, then I set my goals to increase various parameters from my average. The target is to eventually get to 10,000 steps per day but for now the modest goal is 4,000 steps per day. I meet my goals on most days and there are also days on which I exceed it by miles.
The one thing that FitBit Charge has over other devices is that you can tap its small screen to get your numbers for the day. On most other devices, you are guided by a set of lights that indicate how close you are to your daily target. This is not a deal breaker for most people, but I did not want to have to keep syncing the band to my phone to know exactly how many steps I have covered in that day. A tap on my wrist and I know.
The few things that are missing in Fitbit Charge:
- It is only splash /rain resistant and it is advised that you take it off even when you are showering. Swimming with it is, of course, out of question. MisFit or VivoFit by Garmin are the alternatives that regular swimmers can consider.
- It does not track my gym or yoga workouts but I can input them separately and so the calories get added based on my diligence to enter that data
- No Heart Rate Monitor or GPS tracker: These are available in higher versions as Fitbit Charge HR (~$150) and FitBit Surge (~$250). This will be desirable to you if you want to track your outdoor runs, cycling sessions and want to accurately track your calorie expenditure through the day.
I am quite happy with my purchase and even after using it continuously for almost 3 months now, I am just as excited to see how I fare each day. It is a great device if you are looking for an excuse to increase your activity levels through the day. Highly recommended! 🙂
PS: Amazon Links to FitBit bands and a few other popular ones:
Reviewed in the article above. Highly recommended!
For the sports enthusiast who wants it all, this is one of the best fitness trackers out there – a watch, heart rate monitor, caller id, text notification, gps tracking, etc and whatever else you can think of fitting in a smart watch.
Jawbone is another great fitness band company – UP2 is similar to FitBit Charge but lacks a screen to read data directly. Nevertheless, the new version of their app has a ‘coach’ that tells you if you are slacking off on your activity levels week by week and if and when you need to get moving. Its sleep app also is more detailed than FitBit Charge – it tells you the time you spent in deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep.
Nothing beats Xiaomi when it comes to price. With all the main functionalities intact, this can be a great buy if you are still not sure the fitness bands can help you at all. It is water resistant and can be worn while swimming. Also works beautifully with Android phones.
Water resistant upto 50m. One of the first ones on the market, those who have used it swear by it. Consider it if you want a solid device for counting in your swimming sessions as well. Do compare with Misfit Shine before making the purchase.
PPS: Prices are as on Sep 3, 2015 and are subject to availability on Amazon.in