Are fitness trackers accurate?

Are fitness trackers accurate?

Through the last few years fitness trackers have grown in popularity. And with the demand for more fitness trackers, the supply has grown as well. Now, there are several brands of fitness trackers and different types. Some fitness trackers are more fashion conscious. Some focus on convenience. Some focus on features. But one thing that all fitness trackers should be is accurate.

So are they? Are fitness trackers accurate? In most cases, fitness trackers are very accurate, though some have been proven to be more accurate than others. Here’s a little information about how fitness trackers track your fitness and which ones are the best. 

Heart Rate Monitoring

When people consider the accuracy of fitness trackers, they mostly wonder about the accuracy of the heart rate monitor. It is important for people who are training with a focus on cardio or people who have heart conditions to keep an eye on their heart performance. It is also a great indicator of performance progression for both serious and amateur athletes.

There have been several complaints throughout the years about accuracy issues for various models of fitness trackers, but most companies have stood next to their technology and have been proven accurate.

One of the more well known complaints were about the Fitbit Charge and Surge. However Consumer Reports tested both of these models at low and high intensities with female and male test subjects and found that the accuracy was always within a 3 beat range, except for one single instance when one of the models recorded 11 beats lower during a high intensity work out.

How Can You Increase Accuracy?

The best way to increase accuracy in a fitness tracker is to get it in the right position. Many fitness trackers use a specialized technology that uses photoplethysmogram to measure a heart rate. This method uses a light to illuminate the skin and read the light absorption rate through blood flow. It can sound a bit complicated, but knowing how it works helps users understand how to make it more accurate.

The light needs to have continual contact with the skin to deliver accurate results, so if you have a fitness tracker on your wrist, it might not be as accurate, if you don’t have it fit snugly and positioned a little higher than the bend in the wrist.

Here are some other options for fitness trackers that aren’t necessarily worn on the wrist. The wrist is the most convenient and probably the most comfortable, but chest straps and armbands may be easier to keep constant contact with the skin.

Chest Straps:

  • Polar H10
  • My Zone MZ-3
  • Garmin HRM Tri
  • Wahoo Tickr X

Armbands:

  • Scosche Rhythm24 HR
  • BodyMedia FIT Advantage Armband Weight Management System

EKG

As of right now, the only fitness tracker that has EKG capabilities is the smart watch Apple Watch Series 4. Though it has been found to be accurate in most cases, it’s limited in what it can tell you. Most EKGs have 12 separate leads that are placed in various strategic areas of the body. This will give you the most accurate read of your heart and can detect several conditions.

The EKG that the Apple Watch has is only one lead, placed on your wrist, of course. This may not be able to detect a heart attack or various other heart related ailments, but it can detect Atrial Fibrillation, a condition that according to the CDC, an estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million people in the United States alone have.

So is it a full on EKG? No. Is it important, and in some cases life saving? Absolutely.

You should, of course, never replace going to the doctor by wearing the Apple Watch. Instead, use it as a way to validate some of your symptoms to a doctor. The watch should be used as an indicator that something is wrong, not a diagnostic.

How to Make it More Accurate?

There are a couple things that will make the EKG reading more accurate, and the training module will explain them before you start the test. One of these things is you should be dry and relaxed. You should be able to be motionless for less than a minute. You shouldn’t do an EKG while exercising or right after. This kind of test is called a stress test and should be done in a professional setting. 

GPS

GPS is a helpful feature on any fitness tracker, especially if you are using a track my friends sort of an app for race check points or safety reasons. However, even with technology as advanced as it is today, GPS can be finicky, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the device.

Shortcuts

You may find that your tracking device takes shortcuts around bends or will have random spots where you know you didn’t go. This is due mostly to there being a period of time where the GPS couldn’t get a good reading and it is trying to smooth it over by indicating the path that it thinks you may have taken. This of course will lead to some pretty big differences in distances.

Weather

Though its role may seem inconsequential, weather can affect the performance of the GPS in your fitness tracker. Sunny days are more accurate than cloudy days by a small margin, but rainy days can add a 3% error to your workout.

Interference

Any kind of interference can be hard for a GPS to work around. If you run in a wooded area, under bridges, overpasses, or even tall buildings, your GPS could be off by a bit. It’s nearly impossible to run anywhere without at least some interference, but most GPS’s can deal with some of this.

Overall, GPS is a great feature on a tracking device, but out of all the features available, it may not be the most reliable one out there. Use your GPS, but use it in conjunction with your other features as well.

Here are some of the best GPS fitness trackers out there: 

  • Garmin Vivoactive 3
  • Apple Watch 4
  • Suunto 9 Baro
  • Coros Apex
  • Garmin Forerunner 935
  • Polar Vantage V
  • Garmin Fenix 5X

Step Counters

As explained in our article about how fitness trackers work, “fitness trackers work by measuring motion. Most employ a 3-axis accelerometer that measures movement in every direction, while some include a gyroscope to measure rotation and orientation. Many include an altimeter to measure altitude.”

So unlike early stages of pedometers that you may have worn on your hip a decade or two ago where you had to enter in your stride in feet and inches, your fitness tracker of today measures your movement based it’s own position. The old pedometers would have a mechanism that clicked and added a step each time it moved up and down. So if you wanted to cheat a little, all you needed to do was shake it.

If fitness trackers today had that same method of counting steps, they would be wildly inaccurate because most people wear their trackers on their wrist. So if you’re carrying a stack of books, and not waving your arm, you wouldn’t have any steps counted even if you walked several city blocks. Or if you were doing an activity like grating cheese, for example, you would have registered for more steps taken if pedometers measured the same way that they used to.

Today’s fitness trackers can measure movement in all directions, making any type of activity trackable. You can rest assured that you are getting an accurate reading of every single activity that you do throughout the day.

Overall, the technology behind fitness trackers is very advanced and impressive. You can keep a fairly accurate eye on everything your body is doing throughout the day, even sleep. Knowing this information will help you have a healthier life by motivating you to push yourself harder each day. In this competitive market, you can be sure that the technology is only going to get more advanced. 

Accessories for fitness tracker (that you may not know)

Accessories for fitness tracker (that you may not know)

No matter, whether you’ve had your fitness tracker for a while or it’s brand new you may be surprised to learn that for certain trackers you can actually buy accessories to help you get more out of it or keep it safe.

Each tracker has different options dependent on the manufacturer so there is no one size fits all list. To help you out, we’ve grouped them into the main categories with suggestions for the best known trackers, of course similar items should be available for the less popular brands too.

Replacement bands

It’s fair to say that some of the straps that come as standard on fitness trackers won’t win any fashion awards. Any fashionistas will be keen to change them up for something a bit more colourful and stylish.

Click here to see at Amazon

Many manufacturers provide devices that have interchangeable straps which can be swapped in and out easily. We particularly like |this lightweight nylon strap for the Apple Watch and this set of 3 bands for the Fitbit Versa.

Screen protectors

Even the most careful of athletes will unintentionally catch their fitness watch on something. Typically, this end up as a scratch on the screen. As a lot of modern fitness trackers are touch screen this can cause problems where you can no longer control your tracker in the easiest way.

This is why getting a screen protector is a great investment. Screen protectors like this one for the Apple Watch and this one for the Fitbit Versa are small sheets of plastic which are placed over the tracker’s original screen.

They usually come in multiples and their main purpose is to take any contact and scratches whilst still allowing you to use your tracker.

Bluetooth headphones

An increasing number of fitness trackers come with the ability to play music either off the device or streamed from services like Deezer. A great way to give your workouts some extra oomph. In fact we wrote an article about that here.

Instead of a headphone jack, which has the potential of being a trip hazard manufacturers have moved towards Bluetooth. A set of Bluetooth headphones will allow you to listen to and in some cases control the playback of music.

If you have an Apple device you might have well seen the AirPods and Fitbit offer similar functionality with the Fitbit Flyers. They are both premium products with prices to match. Those looking for more affordable options might want to check out something like these bluetooth headphones from MPow

Insurance Protection

Not for everyone, but if you’re the type who worries that your expensive device might come to harm. You may well find a solution with a portable electronic accident plan like the ASURION 3 Year Portable Electronic Accident Protection Plan with Tech Support.

There are lots of other options available too. As we haven’t done it ourselves we would recommend spending time researching which one best fits your need and read the reviews.

Is it OK to wear fitness trackers with a watch?

Is it OK to wear fitness trackers with a watch?

Watches are accessories that have been valued for centuries. Some watches have sentimental value. Many watches just look attractive or professional. Even though fitness trackers commonly have a display watch face, they don’t always fill the hole in someone’s heart for accessories that a watch can. So, for all the people attached to their watches, here’s the burning question: Is it Ok to wear fitness trackers with a watch?

The short answer is: you can absolutely wear fitness trackers in conjunction with a watch! There’s no fashion police. However, if you want to wear a watch and a fitness tracker at the same time, it might look a little odd unless done the right way. Here are some ways to wear your watch and fitness tracker and have the best of both worlds.

Non-Wrist Options

Many people like the look of an analog watch and prefer to have a reliable watch that doesn’t need to be charged regularly, and for these reasons, they hold onto their traditional watches. However, you still may want to track your fitness level regularly. Here are some options that free up your wrist from the fitness tracker if you want to keep your day to day watch on at all times.

Ring:

Fitness tracker rings are a more recent addition to the fitness tracker family, and though they may not be as popular as wrist options as of yet, they show some real promise. With this option, you can have constant fitness tracking while working out, sleeping, and just going about your day without the distraction of wanting to check your progress all day long, since there is no screen. Most of the rings are compatible with both Android and iOS, and you can check in through your phone or computer whenever you want.

One of the best benefits of the ring is that it blends in completely. Each brand has different designs that you can pick to best suit your style. No more worrying if your fitness tracker goes with your outfit or if you can wear your analog watch with it. Some of these rings are so stylish they could double as a wedding ring, though you don’t want to get too attached in case you want to upgrade down the line.

Here are some of the great rings on the market today:

  • Motiv Ring
  • Oura Ring
  • ORII Smart Ring
  • Binq Ring
  • Mclear Smart Ring

Chest Straps:

If you are looking to have the absolute most accurate heart rate reading possible in a fitness tracker, then you will want to invest in a chest strap. Even the best smart watches and wrist fitness trackers cannot get as accurate a reading as a chest strap because of the constant movement at the wrist level.

This will obviously be hidden from view, if you want to wear a fitness tracker with your watch.  However, the chest band is not really an option that you will want to wear throughout your day since it’s not as comfortable long term as a wrist fitness tracker. This option is typically only used during a workout routine.

Here are some of the best chest strap fitness trackers:

  • Polar H10
  • My Zone MZ-3
  • Garmin HRM Tri
  • Wahoo Tickr X

Armbands:

Another non wrist fitness tracker option is the armband. Like chest fitness tracker, the armband is typically more accurate for heart rate because of the decrease in friction when compared to the wrist fitness tracker. And similar to the chest strap as well, armbands are typically only worn during exercise, which doesn’t make them a great fitness tracker for daily movements.

Here are a couple of armband trackers:

  • Scosche Rhythm24 HR
  • BodyMedia FIT Advantage Armband Weight Management System

Smaller Fitness Trackers

If you still like the comfort and accessibility of having a wrist fitness tracker, then the above options may not be something that you are interested in. In that case, if you have a special watch that you want to wear regularly in conjunction with your wrist fitness tracker, you can always wear them on different wrists, which will not draw too much attention to them. However, you can do one better and get one of the slimmer options available on the market.

There are a lot of options for slim fitness trackers, so you may want to do a bit more research on this site about which ones are the best. You have a lot of options to search through, so you have a lot of freedom to customize your style to what you want.

Here is a list of slim fitness trackers:

  • Fitbit Flex 2
  • Fitbit Alta
  • Garmin Vivosmart
  • Huawei Band 3 Pro
  • Fitbit Inspire HR
  • Garmin Vivosport
  • Honor Band 4
  • Garmin Vivofit 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Fit e
  • Under Armour Calypso
  • Jawbone Up

There are also many countless cheap options for fitness trackers out there that have varying levels of performance. The list above includes a variety of some of the most highly reviewed fitness trackers. This doesn’t mean that they are all at the highest price point. Getting the right fitness tracker for your needs is something very personal to you. Make sure that you check out all the prices and features and find something that works for you.

Hybrid Watches

Smartwatches tend to be a bit more bulky than your typical fitness tracker, and it would look pretty awkward to wear one of those with another analog watch. The great thing about smartwatches though, is that several of them can take on the look of a typical analog watch. So if you are wanting to wear an analog watch just for the look of it and you didn’t realize there are some very classy looking hybrid watches on the market, check out some of the awesome hybrid smartwatches put out by some great designers.

Here are some of the wristwatch options that function as smartwatches but can look like analogs: 

  • Garmin Vivomove HR
  • Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch
  • Men’s Fossil Q Explorist
  • Withings HR Hybrid
  • Misfit Vapor
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch
  • Fossil Commuter
  • Misfit Command
  • Kate Spade Scallop

Check out our post on fitness trackers that look like watches if you want to find out more.

Disguises

Of course, there are some fitness trackers that don’t even have the look of a wristwatch, which may be more up your alley if you really want to wear both at the same time. These fitness trackers look more like a high end piece of statement jewelry than a fitness tracker. Luckily, stacking bracelets and watches is very trendy at the moment, so you can even put these fitness trackers on the same wrist as your analog watch if you want to without getting any weird looks.

Here are some of the most stylish fitness trackers out there that can pass for a bracelet.

  • Leaf Urban by Bellabeat
  • Staulino Women’s Fitness Watch
  • Misfit Ray Activity Tracker
  • Fitbit Flex 2
  • Moov Now
  • Jawbone Up2

Accessory Bands

If you have come to the bottom of this extensive list and you still haven’t found something that fits for you, consider just getting an interchangeable band for some of the slimmer fitness tracking models.

There are several bracelets, anklets, and bands that will work with these fitness trackers and help them blend in. Some of the most versatile accessories come from third party sellers who are selling bands compatible for the Fitbit Flex 2, so if you’re in the market for a fitness tracker and you want options like this, check out the accessories first.

The fitness tracker game has expanded so much in the last few years that you are sure to find something that you are comfortable wearing every day. And if you want to switch it up every once in a while, find a tracker that has a lot of accessories available. One thing to remember though, is that the next version of the tracker will keep coming out, so if you want to hang on to your specific tracker for a long time and you want a variety of accessories to go with it, then buy what you can now before vendors stop producing them and move on to the newer model.

Are activity trackers safe to wear?

Are activity trackers safe to wear?

Does it seem like everything causes cancer nowadays? Each day it seems as though some food, hygiene product, technology, or activity now has more risks than what meets the eye. So here’s the important question on everyone’s mind: Are activity trackers safe to wear?

The short answer is, there really is no hard evidence that fitness trackers are bad for your health or cause cancer. As technology develops rapidly, it is difficult to say what things affect your health and what things are perfectly safe. Fitness trackers as of right now appear to be safe to use regularly, though it is too early to know and there has not been enough research done. Here are some things to consider when you are debating how often you should wear your trackers.

Why It Could Be Dangerous

There has been some speculation that fitness trackers could be dangerous to your health because, like cell phones, they emit a very minimal amount of radiation. According to the Federal Communication Commision, cell phones, by law in the US, must emit less than 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiation.

Comparatively, a typical FitBit emits 6 watts per kilogram of radiation. While this is a very small amount when you juxtapose it with the cell phone limit, it is still radiation, which might not make you feel very comfortable.

Though cell phones and fitness trackers do emit radiation, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), “cell phones and cordless phones use radiofrequency radiation (RF) to send signals. RF is different from other types of radiation (like x-rays) that we know can be harmful. We don’t know for sure if RF radiation from cell phones can cause health problems years later.

What is known is that the radiation levels are low and that they are not a type of radiation that is known to be detrimental to your health. 

Radiation is put off by many things that we come into contact with on a daily basis and it is impossible to know how much radiation we get unless we constantly have a Geiger counter on hand. While it is always good to limit your exposure to radiation, it is impossible to completely eradicate it out of your life.

Why You Shouldn’t Worry Too Much

Of course, you always want to be as healthy as possible, and being aware of the risks before you consume anything or put anything on your body is responsible, but there is some evidence that fitness trackers are not something to lose sleep over.

According to John Sweetenham, MD of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, “There’s very little evidence at the moment to suggest that there’s a link between cellphone usage and any type of cancer. The numbers of brain cancers we’re seeing have been pretty flat for many years. With widespread cell phone usage, if there was a link, you might expect to see some increase in the number of cases. But there isn’t.

Cell phones produce much more radiation than fitness trackers do, and are held against the head and near vital organs more than fitness trackers, so you would assume that if there is no increase in brain cancer since the cell phone explosion, then there wouldn’t be an increase in cancer due to fitness trackers as well.

Why The Benefits Outweigh The Costs

Having a fitness tracker is the first step to living a healthy lifestyle. If you are more aware of your activity level and feel motivated to do better every day then you are naturally going to make improvements on your health.

Exercising each day, even if it’s only counting your steps or standing and stretching at your desk each time your fitness tracker nudges you to move throughout the day can vastly decrease your susceptibility to many health concerns caused by obesity and heart disease. In fact, heart disease has been the leading cause of death for as long as there are statistics. Cancer comes in a close second with 40% of those deaths caused by tobacco use (not radiation), according to the CDC.

So if people are changing their health habits with motivation from their fitness tracker, it most certainly will be more beneficial to them than the minimal amount of non-ionizing radiation will be detrimental. Of course, there are still things that you can do to limit your exposure if you are still nervous about the radiation.

What You Can Do To Limit Exposure

You can never be completely free of radiation since radon can be found everywhere around us. It is in ultra violet rays from the sun and it can commonly seep into cracks in your basement. The CDC states, “More research is needed before we know if using cell phones causes health effects.” So, though at this point there is no definite answer whether cell phones and fitness trackers cause health problems, you can still reduce your exposure by following some of the tips outlined below.

Sleep

There are a lot of people who really enjoy having the sleep tracker feature as a part of their fitness tracker, but is it something you really need? If you have sleep problems and you want to track how things are going, that’s one thing, but if you are just tracking your sleep for curiosity sake, then this might be a feature you can do without to avoid more radiation exposure.

Taking your fitness tracker off for at least 8 hours a night can help you reduce the exposure without missing anything important that you want tracked throughout the day. It’s also an ideal time to charge it.

Tracker Location

Though the radiation that is emitted from fitness trackers is minimal, you may feel more comfortable wearing it in locations away from your internal organs. This means that the armbands, anklets, wristbands, and rings are all great options to reduce exposure to radiation. The belt clips or chest straps may not be a great option if you are concerned about radiation near your organs.

Other Device Usage

As mentioned before, radiation is emitted from lots of different things and anything with a bluetooth has measured levels of radiation. If you have a tablet, or a cellphone, then you may want to reduce exposure through these devices as well. Always setting your tablet on a table instead of on your lap is one way to be more aware. Using the speakerphone on your cellphone when possible will also reduce the amount of radiation near your head.

Length of Time

One of the really great benefits of having a fitness tracker is that you can track your health throughout the day, even when you’re not working out. You will be able to know how active you are when you are running around doing errands or you can be motivated to work harder if you sit at a desk for most of the day.

Day to day tracking can only be very accurate if you wear it consistently and can compare your results to the other days of the week. However, if you are concerned about exposure, then limit use of your fitness tracker for during your times of exercise.

Communication With Phone

The amount of radiation is really determined by the amount that the bluetooth connection is used in your fitness tracker to communicate to your cellphone or laptop. If you have an option to reduce this or buy a tracker that has no bluetooth, then you may want to look closer into those options. Many people see Bluetooth connection as a plus, but as far as radiation goes, this is the primary source of the surges.

Conclusion

Overall, here are the points to remember from this article: 

  • There is no indication that fitness trackers are detrimental to your health. 
  • Fitness trackers use a different kind of radiation than the radiation that is known to cause cancer.
  • Fitness trackers emit a very low amount of radiation in comparison with other devices that most people use on a daily basis.
  • If you are still concerned about exposure to radiation, there are a lot of options to reduce the minimal amount of radiation emitted by your fitness tracker.

It is always wise to be responsible and aware of anything you could be doing to expose yourself to dangerous radiation. Just remember to consider the sources that you look at when you are researching information about fitness trackers and radiation. There are a lot of sources that use scare tactics, but the ones you can trust are the sources put out by actual scientists.

11 Best Smartwatches For Working Out (in 2019)

11 Best Smartwatches For Working Out (in 2019)

Just when you thought smartwatches couldn’t get any smarter, they did. Each year the top brands of smartwatch developers create new features on their signature watches to make your life more convenient and working out more exciting. Getting motivated to move more and workout harder can be difficult, but your smartwatch will be there for you, giving you nudges in the right direction all day to keep you on top of your activity level.

But how do you know which smartwatch to buy? There are so many on the market right now with varying price points and similar features. It’s difficult to know which one to buy without doing some serious research and comparisons between the different brands and models. Here is a simplified list of all the best smartwatches for working out in 2019. Each has its pros and cons, so they are not in any particular order. Make sure you read the reviews of the ones you’re interested in to see if they have features you want.

Smart watch being worn on wrist

1. Apple Watch 4

Compatibility: iOS
Storage: 16 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE
Battery Life: 1 to 2 days

Pros:

If it were a popularity contest, the Apple Watch Series 4 would be a prime contender. Apple has a way of exciting buyers every year when they come out with their new lines for all their technology in the early fall. Buyers are confident with this company that they will get a great product that is cutting edge, bigger than ever before, and has a sleek, lightweight design. It also has far and away the most storage than any other smartwatch product on the market.

The Series 4 is no exception, especially if you primarily want to use your smartwatch for working out. This device works well for any physical activity including swimming, has a louder speaker than before, and one of the most exciting features is the electrocardiogram. Though this isn’t a replacement for a physical in an actual physician’s office, if you are really health conscious, or working out because of a heart condition, this is a feature you will definitely appreciate.

Cons:

The Apple Watch has a lot of exciting features, and it’s likely that whatever isn’t in the watch already, there is an app that you can download to get what you need. However, some complaints have been that there isn’t a built in sleep tracker, and that you have to download an app for that. It does seem like a minor complaint.

Another complaint among some buyers is of course the price. You get what you pay for, and the Apple Watch is a great product. However, if you are looking for something a little more in a lower price range, just wait a couple months before or after the new year model comes out and you’ll get a significantly lower price for the same great product.

2. Samsung Galaxy Watch

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)
Battery Life: 4 days

Pros:

One of the best parts of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is that it has a very easy to learn interface. It’s fun to geek out about different features in a smartwatch, and this watch has many, but if you want to use a watch primarily for functionality without too much work, this is the one for you. People who are and aren’t tech savvy alike will enjoy this watch, especially with its phenomenal battery life. Four days is substantially longer than other smartwatches on the market.

This watch also has a more traditional feel than some other smartwatches available. It has all the technology still but the design doesn’t feel like a phone on your wrist. There are several face designs to camouflage that it is even a smartwatch. It has a rotating bezel, which is one of its customers favorite features. You can easily scroll or switch through apps and emails on the watch without your finger obstructing your view on the screen.

Cons:

Though the battery life is awesome, charging the watch can be a bit of a pain, but when you’re only charging it once or twice a week, it’s not too big of a deal. And also, the battery life will only last 4 days if you don’t change the factory settings. So you can’t have the display always on to tell the time, as one example. It is a bit disappointing that you can’t always have the time on display on a watch.

3. Misfit Vapor 2

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Battery Life: 1 day

Pros:

If you’re looking to buy a smartwatch that isn’t the same as everyone else, then you might want to consider the Misfit Vapor 2. It is a little lesser known than the top sellers, but utilizes a Snapdragon chipset that is used in several smartwatches such as the Fossil Gen 4 watch and Mobvoi Ticwatches. It may not be the most commonly used platform, but it is good enough for some high producing brands.

Another great feature of the Misfit Vapor 2 is that it has GPS, which is great for running, and one of the most sought after features for outdoor runners and swimmers.

Cons:

Many Misfit Vapor 2 Users have complained that though the design is a bit different than some of the more popular brands, it is also a bit more flimsy and delicate as well. If you are interested in using this smartwatch for fashion or day to day activities, this may not be an issue for you. However if your primary use is to track your workouts, you will probably want something a bit more durable.

The Misfit also does not include LTE, which can be a big deterrent for some. For those who are not as tech savvy, LTE is important because it uses cell towers rather than WiFi for data streaming. WiFi is much more limited than LTE and LTE covers about 95 percent of the US. So if staying connected is important to you while you are on the go, this could be a deal breaker. Though, to be fair, there are several very high performing smartwatches that don’t offer LTE, and many that made this list.

4. Fossil Sport

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Battery Life: 2 days

Pros:

Finally, the fashion industry is coming up with a smartwatch that can be a contender among all the tech brands. If you are looking for something that carries all the basics that you want for a fitness tracker and has the design of a traditional watch, the Fossil Sport is the smartwatch for you.

Quick Note: If you are a fan of the retro look we have an article about fitness trackers that look like watches.

A convenient feature as far as smartwatches go, is that you can program the pusher buttons on the side to do whatever you want, even if it’s just a shortcut to your stopwatch. People who like to have exact timing on runs or workouts will be happy to have this.

This watch is small and lightweight, making it a great choice to wear throughout the day, but especially at the gym. The watch face is much smaller than leading smartwatches, and though it may be a bit thick, its casing is aluminum, which makes it lightweight and easy to forget that you are wearing it.

Cons:

As mentioned before, Fossil is primarily a fashion brand, and the smartwatch is a very basic model as far as technology goes. But if you want something that will look good all day long while tracking your fitness at a basic level, then this watch could be great for you.

This smartwatch runs with Snapdragon 3100, which can offer a smooth experience at times, but at others it runs really slowly. When you are using your smartwatch for its fitness features, you want to have something with a fast response rate. However, it doesn’t just affect the fitness tracker features. It can take several seconds for the watch to register the caller ID after receiving a phone call as well.

5. Fitbit Versa

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 2.5 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 3 to 4 days

Pros:

Fitbit are a household name when it comes to fitness trackers, but they steered clear of smartwatches for a surprisingly long time. They now have a couple models on the market including the Fitbit Versa, and they don’t disappoint. These watches are on the lower end of the price range in smartwatches, but you know that when you buy from a company that has been making fitness trackers since the beginning of fitness trackers, you are going to get a smartwatch that is great for working out.

Cons:

The Fitbit Versa, though it is a good smartwatch combined with fitness tracker, it still lacks GPS, which can be a little frustrating if you want to track your outdoor runs or swims. GPS is also a great feature to have to use apps to allow your friends or family track you on a run, especially if you are running a race and they want to show up at checkpoints.

The design is nothing special, but if you’re looking for basic functionality and a lightweight design more than fashion, this watch will still be a contender.

6. Mobvoi TicWatch E2

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 2 days

Pros:

One of the absolute best things about the TicWatch E2 is that it is among the cheapest smartwatches around and has all the basic fitness features that you want and need. It still is waterproof, has a heart rate monitor, GPS for running outside, and a sleep tracker. Though it is a lesser known brand, getting all those health features into a smartwatch at that price is unbeatable.

You can also use the TicWatch E2 in the pool, so swimmers have yet another option for a smartwatch. Like many swim friendly fitness trackers, the E2 can detect the type of stroke, length, pace and many other swimming features that you would want to know about.

Quick Note: Our article on fitness trackers for swimming will guide you through some of the best options to track your water based exercises.

Cons:

This smartwatch leaves something to be desired in the design. It’s not ugly, it’s just nothing special. It doesn’t look traditional or modern–it just has a bit of a generic, bland look to it. It also is not equipped for payments, so don’t leave the house without your wallet if you’re planning on buying something.

The TicWatch also is unable to take a recieve calls because, though it is equipped with a microphone, there is no speaker. You also can ask the watch questions, but will not get any audio feedback, just a screen response. This may not bother you too much, but it could be annoying if you’re used to using these kinds of features with your smartphone.

7. Fitbit Ionic

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 2.5 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 2-3 days

Pros:

The Ionic was Fitbit’s first attempt at a smartwatch, and though it may have been a bit overpriced to start out, now that the price has dropped dramatically, you can still get a good quality watch for a competitive price.

Fitbit, of course, has been doing fitness trackers for since the beginning of fitness trackers, so this smartwatch has everything you would ever need in that department. On the whole, this watch seems to be a highly upgraded fitness tracker. You can do any activity you want with it and it even provides some coaching, which is a big benefit if you are serious about fitness.

A great feature that the Ionic has is Fitbit pay. It’s very convenient if you need to drop by a store while out on a run or at the gym to not have to tote around your wallet.

Cons:

Though the Ionic is a step up from Fitbit’s previous fitness trackers, it still has a bit of improving to do. The interface is not very fast, which can be annoying if you are using your watch on the go, which you typically will be doing if you are using it for fitness. Convenience is the whole reason to have a device small and travel size to wear on your watch, so when it isn’t operating conveniently, it can be frustrating.

The Ionic also doesn’t come equipped with a lot of apps. It might be a nice smartwatch to start out with, especially if you want it mostly to use as a fitness tracker, but if you want something a little more cutting edge with more non fitness related features, you might want to look in another direction.

8. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music (running)

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 60 MB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 5 days

Pros:

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music really is the smartwatch for runners. This smartwatch may not have as many futuristic details as other fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market, but it certainly has everything a runner would ever want. It measures stride length, cadence, heart rate, balance, and time in contact with the ground. This smartwatch won’t just track your run, but it will coach you to become a better runner.

The design is of a traditional watch, so while some smartwatches look like fitness trackers, this watch will transfer seamlessly from gym to office to night out.

Additionally it has storage for music that you can listen to while offline and water resistance for swimming.

The Garmin Forerunner also has an amazing battery life of 5 days. It might not seem like a big deal to charge your watch every day or so, but if you forget and have to leave it for a while to charge, it can really mess with some of your fitness tracking.

Cons:

One of the reasons why the Forerunner has such an amazing battery life is because it doesn’t have a touchscreen like many of the smartwatches out there. It is primarily a fitness tracker and watch, and though you can move through your apps fast enough, it may not offer everything that you would want in a watch.

Person swimming in open water

9. Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music (swimming)

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 3.5 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 5 days

Pros:

Though there are many fitness trackers that are water resistant now, there aren’t quite as many options for water resistant smartwatches. The Vivoactive is a great option for avid swimmers who want a smartwatch to track their swims. More particularly for Android users who want to track their swims.

The design of this watch, like the Garmin Forerunner is of a traditional watch face, but it has a more sleek design. It has capabilities to track time, distance, and strokes for swimming along with many other fitness activities as well.

Also like the Forerunner, it comes with enough storage space to download songs for offline listening and GPS.

Cons:

This smartwatch is a great choice if you love to exercise through swimming, but the Apple Watch 4 is still a better choice if you want the best watch for swimming. The apps available to the Apple watch are easier to use and more functional, but most of all, the Garmin Vivoactive does not track outdoor swims, while the Apple Watch does. So if you have an iPhone, and the choice is between the two for swimming, you might want to use the Apple product. If you have Android, the Vivoactive is the best option for swimmers.

10. Nixon Mission

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 1 day

Pros:

The Nixon Mission is another lesser known smartwatch, but it is a great option of a smartwatch for working out. It is rugged and durable and very waterproof. It’s waterproof capabilities go to depths of two times that of the Apple Watch 4 and most other waterproof watches on the market.

The Mission has a casing that is thick and you won’t be worried about needing to baby it at the gym. This watch can take a beating, which is perfect if you want to have a smartwatch for working out.

This smartwatch has ski and snow features as well as surfing and swimming features, which makes it a great option for the high adventurer out there. If you are going to be working out or doing any high intensity activities in or out of the gym, this watch will be the one to keep up with you.

Cons:

Many wearers, though they love the durability of this smartwatch, feel that it is altogether too chunky for comfortable, everyday wear. You may enjoy having it as a tracker during a workout, but be less excited to wear it throughout the rest of your days activities. Though it is chunky, it may be for a reason. Many wearers admit that the large buttons on the side were particularly easy to use while wearing skiing gloves.

11. Kate Spade Scallop 2

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 1 day

Pros:

Like the Fossil Sport, the Scallop 2 smartwatch was created by a teamwork of fashion designers and technology developers. Though this may not be the typical fitness tracker smartwatch out there, and it might not look like it belongs on your wrist at the gym, the design is one of the best out there for smartwatches.

This smartwatch was made particularly for women, which is a great selling point in itself. Most tech companies will provide a smaller watch band for feminine or small wrists, but the watch face for the Scallop 2 is much smaller as well and just looks quite a bit more feminine and fitting than other smartwatches on the market.

It also comes with Google Wear OS system so it has all the features you would need in a smartwatch for functionality and fitness. It has a heart rate monitor, GPS, and is equipped for Android Pay.

It also comes with a lot of band options that you can change out depending on how you want to use it. It is by far the best looking watch for women on the market.

Cons:

As mentioned before, it is a very nice looking watch and you might be nervous to wear it in the gym, which is a big con if you want it to work out with. However, though it has a high fashion design and name, if you are as careful with it as you would be any other smartwatch, it will work great for you as a fitness tracker as well as a smartwatch.

What To Look For In Smartwatches

There are several different options for smartwatches on the market today and each year there are more coming out, which are better than ever before. There is literally a great watch for everybody. Anyone can find something they like whether it is the price point or the features that they can’t live without.

Durability

When you are buying a smartwatch that you want to use for fitness tracking in particular, there are a few things to consider. You should look for a durable design and materials. Smartwatches are not cheap, and if you want one to last a long time while using it constantly and through rough conditions, you want to get one that can take a beating. Consider the kinds of activities you will be doing, if you are doing them inside or out, and if you need water resistance. If you are unsure of the durability of a smartwatch, consider visiting a store to try one on.

New Versions

Another huge factor that is helpful to know about when buying a smartwatch is when the brand is coming out with a new one. Do some research and find out when the new one is coming out and what kinds of features it will offer. If a new model is coming out in a few months, it may be best to wait until the newest version comes out to buy that. Or if you know the current one is a good model, buying the old version now while prices are lowering may be a good move.

Operating System

Technology can be finicky, but most companies that develop smartwatches work tirelessly to work out kinks in a system. Do your research on what kind of operating system your watch will run on and make sure that if it hasn’t always been a good system, that changes are being made. It is common for some issues to come out right after an update comes out, so don’t write it off completely if there are a few unhappy customers. Take each review with a grain of salt and keep yourself in the know about what updates are coming out.

Conclusion

Overall, there are lots of options for smartwatches that work as fitness trackers and most of them are great products even if they have slightly differing  features. There are fitness trackers to track kayaking, track spinning and of course not forgetting the classic, fitness trackers to track running. No matter what you are looking for you are sure to find a watch that fills your needs and fits your wallet.

Can The Apple Watch Predict Heart Attacks?

Can The Apple Watch Predict Heart Attacks?

Did you know that the leading cause of death is heart failure? If you are interested in your health, which you probably are if you are reading an article about fitness trackers, you might find it exciting to learn how the Apple Watch can help you predict heart attacks. Here is how it’s done:

Previous models of the Apple Watch have had the heart monitor as a part of it. Being able to read your pulse while working out has always been an important part of fitness. Depending on your weight and age, you have what is called a target heart rate that you want to keep your BPM in while you are performing certain functions. If you want to lose weight, for example, your target heart rate should be a bit slower than if your are working out to your max. If you are working on cardio, then you will want your heart rate to be as high as possible without injuring yourself.

So this feature has always been important, but the newest version of Apple has unveiled something innovative and exciting: the Apple Watch can now perform EKG’s on your heart.

So what does this mean for you? Can the Apple Watch predict heart attacks?

The short answer, is that it can be helpful to predict heart attacks.

What Does an EKG do?

An EKG is a test that doctors typically perform to find irregularities in a heartbeat. These irregularities could be an indicator that you are having a heart attack or you have any number of problems wrong with your heart at the given time. These tests are performed frequently by doctors, and there is a lot you can learn from them.

Why The Watch Is Especially Helpful

Have you ever had the experience where you felt like there was something wrong with you, made an appointment to see your physician, and by the time you were able to be seen, you didn’t have any symptoms anymore? This rarely means that you were magically cured. It is just difficult with wait times as crazy as they can be to see a doctor while you are having your symptoms, unless you are to the point where you have to go to the emergency department.

In these situations, your Apple Watch can be particularly helpful. You may feel some symptoms of irregular heartbeats or distress, and in these moments, you will need to perform an EKG on yourself with the watch. Every person who has the EKG capabilities on their watch will need to go through a training module to learn how an EKG is performed with the watch. All the data collected about your heart in the EKG test can be printed or downloaded in PDF format, which makes it easy to give to your physician.

However, the Apple Watch is always capable of monitoring, and it can collect an overabundance of data if you use it too often. If you want your doctor to see the results of what is actually happening to your heartbeat, make sure you don’t perform the EKG all the time, since that is almost impossible to weed through to find the irregularity. Only record and submit data from the appropriate time frame to your doctor.

Your physician will likely want to run more tests to confirm that there is a problem. If your heart doesn’t present an irregularity during your in-house EKG, then you can wear an event monitor  that you can press to record your heartbeat when your Apple Watch indicates that you are experiencing a problem.

Doctor taking blood pressure

It Shouldn’t Be A Replacement For Your Doctor

Though being aware of your heart conditions is a good thing, you don’t want your watch to replace a doctor. If you are experiencing chest pain, for example,  and your watch isn’t indicating an issue, you could still have a whole slew of health problems that might not be indicated on an EKG. It is still important to not disregard the warning signs that your body gives you to tell you something is wrong.

On the other hand, you should also be wary of false positives for issues in your heart. If you are a person who has a pacemaker or any kind of diagnosed heart condition, the Apple Watch EKG may not be the best monitor for you. Your heart is working at a non standard rate, so you may be warned when there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Stick with the plan that your doctor and you have put together.

Athletes

One thing that the Apple Watch may warn you about is a low heart beat. A below normal heart beat can be an indicator that you are in cardiac distress, but athletes commonly have a resting heartbeat of lower than 60 BPM, so you shouldn’t be alarmed if your Apple Watch notifies you that you are experiencing distress. Make sure that you are aware of your own symptoms. It is very rare that people will experience a heart attack without feeling some kind of symptoms, though they might be difficult to identify if you aren’t expecting them.

Why Some Physicians Are Wary

There are some physicians that think the EKG is a great tool for the general public to use to keep track of their health. The more people want to take charge of working toward a healthy lifestyle, the better. However, there are some physicians that are wary about this EKG function of the Apple Watch.

Standard EKGs are equipped with 12 different leads in several areas of the body to get an accurate reading of what is going on with the heart. The Apple Watch, of course, has only one lead in the wrist, so it isn’t as accurate as a normal EKG. Doctors may worry that people won’t seek medical help when they are feeling unusual symptoms because their Apple Watch isn’t indicating a problem. So, of course, you should still be aware of other symptoms of cardiac distress even if your watch reads as normal.

Person holding heart

What Symptoms Should You Look For?

Over half a million people in the United States die of heart disease every year, so it is important to know the signs of a heart attack if you ever experience them. Here is a list of some of the more common and easy to identify symptoms of a heart attack.

Chest Pain: This is the symptom that most people think about when they think about heart attacks. In the movies, people experiencing heart problems are always clutching their chests. This is an important symptom, but many times there will be other symptoms before this one shows it’s ugly head.

Pain in Arms Back or Jaw: These types of symptoms can show up for days or even weeks before you actually experience a cardiac episode. However, they can be easily dismissed as something else, so they are commonly overlooked.

Palpitations: Your Apple Watch may be useful in tracking heart palpitations. If you experience these every once in a while, it could be a result of many different things, however, if your Apple Watch detects these more and more often, you should take notice and consult your doctor.

Shortness of Breath: You might experience shortness of breath while working out, but if you are having a real problem, you will find it hard to catch your breath while you are doing nothing at all or tasks that you’ve never had a problem with before.

Diaphoresis: Abnormal sweating is common especially in the late stages of a heart attack. There are some other causes of this, but you should consult a physician immediately if this is the first time you have experienced it.

Nausea: Vomiting and nausea from heart attacks are usually caused by a severe amount of pain, so these symptoms typically are hand in hand.

Lightheadedness: Vertigo or dizziness can be caused by a low supply of oxygen and blood to the brain as a result of your heart pumping inefficiently.

Upper Abdominal Pain: Heart attacks can radiate pain and pressure to other parts of the body, including the upper abdominal area. This kind of pain will feel like a heaviness rather than a stabbing feeling.

Fatigue: Feeling tired is common for several reasons, but fatigue is when you cannot feel rejuvenated after an appropriate amount of sleep. Of course, there are other causes of fatigue, such as depression or other medical problems. However, if you are feeling fatigue and any of these other symptoms you should contact your primary care physician as soon as possible.

General Malaise: This symptom is hard to put in parameters. General malaise is just a feeling of uneasiness or an uncomfortable feeling. Basically, your body knows there is something wrong and it is trying to tell your brain.

Conclusion

So can the Apple Watch predict heart attacks? The answer is that it can, in certain cases but not in all. As long as you use your Apple Watch as a tool to help you if you are experiencing symptoms, and you don’t ignore these symptoms if you get no feedback from your device, then it can be helpful.

Best Fitness Trackers for Running

Best Fitness Trackers for Running

There are so many fitness trackers on the market right now, and it can be very overwhelming to narrow down the best fitness tracker for running. The very earliest models of trackers were originally geared toward runners, because they started out as primarily a high tech step counter, but now they’ve developed into trackers that have countless convenient features.

A variety of fitness trackers have stayed the course and catered to the runners out there with features that any runner would enjoy. Some of these features include; heart rate monitor, calorie burner, distance and steps, GPS, sleep tracker, and water resistance among others.

Here is a list that we have compiled of the best fitness trackers for running that are currently out on the market and why. It should be noted that this is a list of primarily fitness trackers in no particular order, and not smart watches.

 Fitbit Charge 3Letscom ID131HRMore ProXiaomi Mi Band 3Garmin Vivo SportHuawei Talkband 4
Moov NowPolar a370Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro

Motiv Ring
Heart Rate MonitorYesYesYesYes (if activated)YesYesYesYesYesYes
Calories Burned TrackedYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Distance and Steps TrackedYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
GPSConnected GPS via PhoneConnected GPS via PhoneConnected GPS via PhoneNoBuilt In GPSConnected GPS via PhoneConnected GPS via PhoneConnected GPS via PhoneBuilt in GPSNo
Sleep TrackingYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Water ResistanceYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes
NotificationsYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNo
Battery Life7 days constant usage7 days7 days20 days8 hours with constant use of GPS otherwise 7 days3 days6 months using watch battery4 days3 - 5 days3 days

    • 1 . Fitbit Charge 3

      Fitbit is the brand name that most people think about when they think about fitness trackers. This brand has been grandfathered into the club of reliable trackers that most people would agree they love. Here are some of the features that they have included on this newer model of Fitbit.

      This Fitbit stands out from the pack and is especially exciting for runners because of the breathing coach feature. If the tracker senses that you are overexerting yourself and you need to take a break, then it will train you to slow your breath and calm down. Likewise, it can sense if you are overly stressed and do the same; use breathing techniques to calm you.

      You can stay connected at all times with your Fitbit while your phone is nearby. You can receive  notifications and alerts and Android users can use quick replies. You can also track the GPS by connecting to your phone, which is something you don’t want to live without if you are an outdoor runner. Though, it is a bit disappointing to some that it doesn’t have built in GPS yet.

      Another minor thing that users are less than thrilled about is the screen is monochrome and boring. But this is a small price to pay for the features and accuracy that it offers.

    • 2. Letscom ID131HR

      The Letscom ID131HR is a very exciting fitness tracker because it has a lot of the same features as comparable trackers on the market, but at a fraction of the price. Regardless of the price, it has pretty great reviews online for being one of the best fitness trackers for running.

      Anytime a fitness tracker has a USB plug, it’s an exciting find. There are so many electronics out there that make life so much more convenient, but it is not convenient to always have to find a cord for each of these devices. With the USB plug, you can attach it to your computer just like a flash drive and within 2 to 3 hours, it will be done charging and ready to go.

      The Letscom is one of the best fitness trackers for running, because it does everything you could possibly want it to while being small, simple to use, and inexpensive. In fact, most of the areas that users were disappointed in were minimal, such as the screen being hard to read on a sunny day, which is a common problem among many devices.

    • 3. More Pro

      The More Pro is similar to the Letscom ID131HR in some key ways. It can be paired to a phone for notifications and GPS. Like the Letscom, it has a built in USB port for easy charging. As mentioned before, convenience is one of the best features for a runner who wants to track their running and overall fitness, and a USB port for charging is the most convenient method.

      The More Pro also is pretty inexpensive for what it offers, and has a customizable screen. This one also has the physiological female tracker for cycles, which is handy and forward thinking.

      Some have been less than impressed by the sleep tracker and the app’s accuracy when it comes to distance for cycling. So if you’re interested in either of those aspects, you may want to look elsewhere.

    • 4. Xiaomi Mi Band 3

      The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is yet again, another inexpensive option for a fitness tracker with a lot of the same bells and whistles. It stands it’s own on offering a good amount of features for the price, which puts it up in the running for best fitness tracker for running.

      Users have found that the screen can be a little temperamental and it may take several swipes for the touch screen to respond. A runner, who cares about shaving seconds off of their run times, may find this inconvenient. It is also not the easiest screen to read in different lightings. Just as you’d have difficulty reading your phone on a sunny day, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 screen can be difficult to see unless you are in the shade.

      The heart rate tracker is only on if activated, and the sensor isn’t completely accurate when it is on. While sitting still, the monitor can be very accurate, but while exercising it’s a little spotty, which can be frustrating, since runners are more interested in their exercising heart rate than resting heart rate.

      Another complaint about this tracker is that you cannot start an exercise from the tracker itself, but instead have to start it in the app on your phone first. So your phone will always need to be nearby and you might not get as accurate results, which is important if you’re trying to improve your personal best.

      The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is not as convenient to charge as the Letscom and More Pro. It does not have a typical USB port and will need to be inserted into a charger. Once charging it completes it quickly and the battery life lasts for an impressive 20 days, which makes the inconvenient charging method a little less inconvenient.

      All in all, if you are looking for a very basic fitness tracker and have the ability to have your phone on you while working out, this inexpensive choice could be the right one for you.

    • 5. Garmin Vivo Sport

      The Garmin Vivo Sport is among some of the higher priced fitness trackers, but it earns its place among best fitness trackers for running with the features.

      The absolute best thing about the Garmin Vivo Sport is that it has a built in GPS. This means that instead of carrying two expensive devices while exercising—your tracker and your phone—you can now only carry one, lightweight device. Really, the ideal fitness tracker doesn’t require you to interact with your phone while you are exercising, so this is an amazing feature, especially for runners. People who run, typically like to run outside when possible, so it isn’t as easy to use your phone as it would be for someone who is weightlifting in a gym. Anyone who runs, would be excited about the built in GPS.

      Another feature that goes hand in hand with the GPS is the live track feature. So if you are on a run, whether it be in a city or out in the wilderness, your family or friends can track you from the app. This can be useful in several situations; if your partner or friend is concerned about your safety, if you are running a race and your supporters want to know when you’re nearing the finish line, or if you happen to lose your tracker and want to pinpoint where it is.

      The Garmin Vivo Sport also has a race predictor in it, which keeps the distance runner on track. If you want to run a marathon with an 8 minute mile, your fitness tracker will constantly update your pace tracker so you can make sure you qualify for that Boston Marathon.

      This fitness tracker also has a VO2 indicator and an HRV stress test. Through these tools, you will be able to see what kind of physical shape you are in and whether your body could use a light or hard workout. You can also control music on this device.

      The one complaint that some people have is that the GPS takes some time to lock in initially, but once it’s synced it takes much less time to boot up in future uses.

    • 6. Huawei Talkband 4

      One of the selling points of the Talkband is that it has a great bluetooth conveniently located in the device itself that you can pop out for calls. Even in noisy areas, the call quality is good and the earbuds fit comfortably. You can even make calls from this device, which is unique, though you get a maximum of ten contacts on your device to select from. You will be able to receive phone calls from anyone, of course. If you’re running, you probably won’t want to make a lot of calls, but it is a nice feature for emergencies.

      The Huawei Talkband 4 has disappointed some because of it’s inability to auto detect a workout, which can be inconvenient.

      The design has actually been a sore spot with some reviewers for this band. The band actually looks a bit more sophisticated than other fitness trackers, which may be a nice feature for wearing it throughout the day. However, the leather strap isn’t the best material to be sweating in and prolonged exposure to moisture from sweat or splashes will dull the appearance.

    • 7. Moov Now

      The Moov Now is a fitness tracker that is a little less interactive as far as screens go, however, it is one of the more hands on tracker on what it can offer you. One of the best features of this fitness tracker is the fitness coach. The fitness tracker will constantly give you tips on how to finish strong, where you’re at in your personal goals, and what you can do to improve your form.

      This tracker is ideal for running, weight training, and swimming among other activities. It can be worn on your ankle, which can keep it out of the way if you find the wrist is not as comfortable. You can connect it wirelessly to your phone so that you don’t have to be near it to work out and it will store all the data to your app.

      For a runner, this tracker is ideal because you don’t have to interact with your phone, and it will give you tips to improve your form. It will track how hard an impact your footfalls make and how long your strides are as well as your performance in previous workouts.

      Some people may not be thrilled that you cannot recharge the battery, but others may like that you don’t have to worry about your battery running low right before a run.

    • 8. Polar a370

      The Polar A370 is a standard fitness tracker that has most of the bells and whistles of the other trackers listed here. People like it’s sleek design and all the features that are highlighted on the list above.

      Some areas where people were less than impressed was that the small size wristband wasn’t as small as some people needed. It is important to have a snug fitting band to get an accurate heart rate reading.

      Other people found it a bit time intensive to start a workout. A user has to flip through several different screens and make several different actions to start a simple run, which isn’t optimal for people who want to have an easy to use device.

    • 9. Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro

      The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro is right up there with the Garmin Vivo Sport for convenience and features. Some of the features that it includes are built in fitness apps such as MapMyRun, Speedo Go, Endomondo, and UA Record, and having them already installed gets you moving that much sooner.

      Like the Garmin Vivo Sport, it is equipped with built in GPS, which is a very exciting feature as explained before. This fitness tracker lets you stay connected, without having to cart around your phone, and that is something to be celebrated.

      One of the exciting features that stands out from the crowd and makes this a contender for best fitness tracker for running is that it offers offline Spotify. So even if you aren’t connected to the world wide web, you can still listen to your customized playlists with your wireless headphones. For any runner who likes to run outdoors for long distances, this is an invaluable feature.

      Of course all these features will drain the battery quickly. The battery life of 3 to 5 days is at the low end of what’s available in the market today, and reviewers claim that even 3 days can be optimistic.

    • 10. Motiv Ring

      The Motiv Ring is unlike any other fitness tracker on the market today. Since it is a ring, and therefore small and screenless, it has a minimal design that won’t be distracting while you work out. It stores up to 3 days worth of data, so you don’t have to bring your phone along with you while you go out on a run or outdoor activity.

      Of course with the minimalist design, you won’t get all the features that you might get from a fitness tracker, but you will get a durable, titanium ring that won’t get in the way and is much easier to ignore than a wristband. It still tracks all the important things like distance and activity level, but you will have to view the app to see your progress. When you think about it though, it is nice to have a fitness tracker that is constantly tracking you without feeling like you’re looking at yet another screen.

      Some are a bit disappointed that this tracker only works with Apple phones and what it can do is quite minimal in comparison with the other wristband options, mostly because it doesn’t have a screen and it doesn’t vibrate. So you could think of this as an accessory for your phone rather than a device in itself.

 

Conclusion

There are a lot of different fitness trackers out there, and most of them are pretty accurate. To find the perfect one for you, you need to know exactly what features are most important to you. What features are the most vital for you to achieve your fitness goals?

Using The Apple Watch For Workouts: Beginners Guide

Using The Apple Watch For Workouts: Beginners Guide

The Apple Watch is one of the most highly reviewed smart watches on the market currently. It wins this place by having some of the most varied and useful applications in a sleek and convenient design. Every feature is well thought out. However, with so many features, it can be a little more complicated to understand than a more simple $50 fitness tracker. Though, once you get it figured out, it can offer you a great experience.

Personalize Your Watch

This watch has the capability to do what a fitness tracker does and so much more, but you will need to play around with it first. So don’t expect to unbox the watch and immediately go for a run. You will need to invest a bit of time to customizing the watch for just you before you head out the door. Here is how to optimize the features to fit any fitness need you may have.

Group Competition

Misery loves company, and if you are someone who has a hard time working out, it is always better to get your friends involved. A little friendly competition has been proven to be effective in getting even the least motivated people to enjoy fitness. You can add one friend or even a whole group to compete against each other. You will be able to see how your stats compare with everyone in your group throughout the day so you aren’t blindsided at the end of a competition. If you are considering vegging out in front of the tv or going on a run, all you need is to take a look at how you compare with your competition to get you out the door.

Using the Apple Watch for workouts for beginners in a competitive mode takes only a few simple steps:

How to Do it:

  • Open the activity app and go to the sharing tab
  • Press the plus sign in the top right corner of the screen to add contacts
  • Hit send, and it will send an invite to your group

Activity Recognition

Activity recognition is another convenient feature in the Apple Watch Series 4. If you are using the Apple Watch for workouts, you will love the convenience and accuracy that the Series 4 offers. If you decide to run up several flights of stairs to your apartment instead of taking the elevator, or you if you’re running late to work and need to jog the last few blocks, you probably won’t think about officially starting a workout in your watch. However, once you stop this more rigorous activity and your Apple Watch asks if you’d like to log your workout, it’s convenient to have that feature there.

The Apple Watch Series 4 is said to recognize activities within 3 minutes after your start time and gives you retroactive credit for the the time before it recognized what specific type of workout you were doing. The accuracy of giving this credit back is only off by one or two seconds, which is pretty impressive. You will have a small lull in the heart rate reading during this period, which is the only downside, though it’s a fairly minuscule period.

GPS

If you are using the Apple Watch for workouts outside, you may want to use the GPS feature, and you’ll be happy to know that the GPS is very accurate on this watch series. In fact, reception as a whole is much better on the Apple Watch Series 4. This feature is especially useful if you are running or cycling, but it can be used for outside swimming and even surfing.

Running the GPS along with audio, (as many tend to use both at the same time while working out) will drain your battery after about four hours on the Series 4, compared to the Series 3 watch, which would drain in three hours. This means you don’t have to worry too much about losing battery while training for some of the longer distance runs.

Calorie Counter

Having an accurate calorie counter is dependent on a lot of different factors, and this is one of the areas where the Apple Watch Series 4 excels. In other typical fitness trackers, they may calculate how many calories are burned by using the average burning rate for your heart rate and age. However, if you’re using the Apple Watch for workouts, you will find that the calorie counter is much more accurate than typical fitness trackers, and this is because it is fully customizable to your body.

Here are some tips for keeping your calorie counter accurate:

Keep your information up to date. As you move further along in your fitness journey, your body will change and your metabolism will change along with it. It is important to make sure that you update your weight in the Health tab from the My Watch menu.

Make sure you’re getting your exercise credit when you do it. Your smart watch can surprise you at how smart it actually is, but it still isn’t perfect. Since your watch works with sensors and it sits on your wrist, you need to make sure that your wrist is able to swing naturally for the sensors to work accurately. So this means if you are pushing a stroller or holding onto a leash for your pet, you might not get the correct reading. If you cannot allow your wrist to move naturally, you can still manually log workout credits in the Workout App.

Make sure wrist detection is on to get stand notifications. If you don’t have wrist detection turned on, then your heart rate may not be read, which is a key component to measuring how many calories you are burning during the day. You also won’t get standing credits. You can easily turn wrist detection on by tapping the Passcode tab in the My Watch menu.

Adjust the fit of your watch so that it is not too tight and not too loose. The watch should sit securely on your upper wrist with as much contact with your skin as possible. Having an accurate heart rate measurement is dependent on the watch fitting correctly on your skin.

Calibrate your watch. Something that people often forget to do is calibrate their watch to fit them perfectly. The watch will learn how long your strides are when you walk, jog, and run. This is important if you don’t want to use GPS to save your battery and to get more accurate readings for distance and calories burned. So this is how you do it:

  1. Go to a clear open area outside with good GPS and reception.
  2. Open the workout app and tap outdoor walk or run.
  3. Walk or run for 20 minutes.
  4. Your Apple Watch will automatically calibrate by learning the length of your strides at different speeds as you workout.

Heart Rate Alerts

Another great feature of using the Apple Watch for workouts is the heart rate alerts that you can program into the watch. You are able to enter in your target resting and workout heart rate in the heart rate tab on your watch. Your watch will then send you alerts if you are below or above this target heart rate.

So why is it important to stay in this range? If your heart rate is too low, it can be an indication that your heart isn’t working hard enough to pump your blood and it could even be a precursor to a heart attack. Having a high heart rate isn’t great either and it can be an indicator that there is another health issue at play. However, your heart rate is a pretty personal thing and is dependent on a lot of different factors like age, gender, weight, and athletic level.

You can quickly find out the average target heart rate for your age and weight by doing a search online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that heart rate is the best target for you. Many athletes, for example, have surprisingly low heart rates and that is because their heart is beating very efficiently. The best way to get an accurate target resting and high heart rate is by asking your physician what is best for you.

You can also determine what is a normal heart rate for yourself by tracking it on your watch for a few weeks. This may be a good indicator of what is normal for you, but discussing your fitness goals with your physician will give you a good idea of what you should be working towards.

How To Do It:

  • Open Apple Watch App and Press heart Rate tab
  • Input high and low heart rate BPM

Workouts

Now that you know how to set up your watch, here’s some tips for using the apple watch for workouts beginners guide. Each activity has some differences and so they are briefly outlined here

person running a workout which can be tracked with an Apple Watch

Running

One of the more common workouts that people use their Apple Watch for is running. Having a watch that you can take with you to the gym or outside that is equipped with music, GPS, a heart rate monitor, a calorie counter, and much more is invaluable. You now know exactly what kinds of fitness goals you can achieve.

There is no more doing guesswork when you are on the run as to how much headway you are making. You don’t have to do the math of what your pace is like to the second, just estimating where the mile markers are. When you run with an Apple Watch you get all the right statistics while you are on the go.

Endurance Runs

The Apple Watch Series 4 is especially helpful when you are training for a longer race such as a 10k, half marathon, whole marathon, etc. The watch will alert you through your wireless headphones what your mile time is, and what your rolling mile time is, which is the average pace that you are trying to keep up. So you can compare what you are doing currently to what you need to be doing. If you are trying to qualify for a competitive endurance run like the Boston Marathon, your Apple Watch will make it easier than ever to stay on track.

Live Tracking

Another nice feature of the Apple Watch is that your family and friends can track you during these long runs, so they know which checkpoints to cheer you on at or when they need to head to the finish line. The Garmin Vivosport has a similar feature, and it is very useful.

Extend the Battery

If you are running music and the GPS and your heart rate monitor all on your watch at the same time, it will take about four hours to drain the battery. This seems like a long time, but if you are running a marathon, this might not cover the entire race. So you can try and extend the battery life by pairing your watch with an external heart rate monitor like the Polar OH1. You can also turn off cellular notifications, GPS if there are marked miles, and even use a playlist rather than stream music from an app to save the battery life. However, unless you are running a full marathon, as long as the battery is charged beforehand, you should be able to get enough power to make it through long runs.

Cycling

The Apple Watch is a cyclist’s friend whether they enjoy biking outside or inside. Though the heart rate monitor may not be as accurate on extremely bumpy roads or while mountain biking, the fitness tracking side of the watch still works optimally to measure distance and speed.

Person mountain biking an activity which can be tracked with an Apple Watch

Touch Screen

Once started, you will be able to swipe left and right between three screens that will be handy for your workout. The first will display the duration, speed, heart rate, and distance. The second screen will allow you to pause and resume your workout, and the last screen will control your music.

Some people have complained that the Apple Watch is too hard to navigate on a touch screen if you are wearing biking gloves. However, most gloves made today have the touch screen friendly tips. It would be well worth the investment to get new gloves, if navigating the touchscreen becomes too frustrating.

Outdoor Cycling

One thing to remember when doing an outdoor cycling workout is to not set a goal. In the Workout app, you can select the type of workout (outdoor cycling) and then you will be able to set a goal for calories burnt or time of the workout. In a gym for indoor cycling, this might be a handy feature since it tells you when you’ve reached your goal. However, when you are biking outside, you may not want your workout to end exactly at 20 minutes if you are not quite to your ending point yet, and the Apple Watch will automatically end your workout.

The Apple Watch series 3 or later can track your elevation, which is a pretty big deal for those who like to mountain bike, since elevation is the real challenge in the workout.

Indoor Cycling

If you are cycling on a stationary bike, that has its own challenges. The Apple Watch cannot be as accurate as the bike’s metrics for distance using its own accelerometer, so it may over or under estimate the distance. However, heart rate and calories burnt are still as accurate as ever.

Third Party App

The cycling portion of the Workout app has had some complaints, but there are other apps you can use for cycling in conjunction with your Watch. Some reviewers are disappointed that the Workout app fails to automatically pause when you have to stop at a stoplight or wait for traffic.

The app, Strava, auto detects pauses in your workout. This app also filters out your commutes from your more aggressive workouts, which is nice if you’d like to track how much your commute ends up being over a certain amount of time. It also provides audio cues and some more detailed data points that you don’t get with the Workout app. Even if you choose to use a third party app to log your cycling workout, your exercise will still contribute to filling your fitness tracking circles for the day.

Person swimming in swimming pool an activity that can be tracked with an Apple Watch

Swimming

The Apple Watch Series 4 works great in water, which can be hard to get used to because typically electronics don’t like to get wet. There are, of course, some things you’ll have to remember when you are working out in the water since the touch screen is not really useable while submerged. Here are some tips for a water workout.

Start Before Getting In

To make sure the watch doesn’t misfire as water glides over it, the touch screen automatically disables when it gets wet. Meaning if you are in the water and try to use the watch, you won’t be able to. So just makes sure you press start before you jump in the water.

Measuring Length

Many standard pools are about 25 yards, however, you probably don’t always exercise in a standard pool. Most public or gym pools will have a sign with the posted yardage somewhere near the pool, but if not, you can always ask someone who works there.

If you are using a private pool or the pool attendant doesn’t know the length of the pool, you can download an app, such as ARuler, that will be able to measure the length. These measuring apps may not be the most accurate, but it will give you a better estimate than just guessing.

Pausing Workouts

Normally, to pause a typical workout, you just swipe one screen to the right to hit the pause button. However, if you cannot use the touchscreen, this isn’t really an option. Instead you will be able to pause your workout by hitting the Digital Crown and the side button at the same time. This action also takes a screen shot, so unless you want to have a bunch of useless photos in your photo bank, you can disable this with the following steps:

  1. Go to My Watch app
  2. Go to General
  3. Slide enable screenshots to off

If you are resting between swimming laps, but you aren’t necessarily pausing your workout, you don’t need to worry about pausing. Your Apple Watch will automatically detect a rest between laps and will time your rest to record and present with the rest of your data at the end of the workout.

GPS Tracking

If you want to track your workouts in the open water, you’re in luck! GPS doesn’t work well when submerged under water, however the Apple Watch makes up for it by trying to get a reading every time you lift your wrist out of the water. Of course, some strokes work better for this than others. If you find that your arms are under the water most of the time during your workout, you can time it so that you lift your wrist above the water every few strokes. This should give you an accurate enough reading to track how far you went.

Triathlons

Your Apple Watch can now record triathlons, so if you are an avid runner, cyclist, and swimmer, this watch will be just perfect for your needs. You can combine all three of these types of exercises into a single workout. So when you are done with one portion of a workout, you just need to scroll the Digital Crown to unlock it, swipe to the right and tap the add button and select your next type of exercise.

How to End a Workout

As mentioned earlier, you cannot use the touch screen when it’s wet—so how do you end a workout? If you want to end the workout without having a rest period included in it while you towel off and drain the speakers, then use the method mentioned above to pause the workout. Just press the Digital Crown and the side button at the same time to pause, then resume when it’s been dried off and you can end the workout then.

Miscellaneous Workouts

There is a whole slew of other activities you can do using the Apple Watch for workouts. If you participate in any kind of exercise, there is a way to track it. Though you might not have as much trackable data available to you if you dance versus if you run a distance, you will still be able to record heart rate, calories burned, and duration, as well as other things like elevation and distance for certain activities.

Gym Machines

If you like to work out at the gym, your Apple Watch can be a very valuable tool to help you with your fitness goals. You will be able to constantly know a more accurate heart rate than the sensors on the the treadmills. You will also be able to track your calories throughout your entire workout routine, even including weight training. Yes, the elliptical, treadmill, and bikes have a built in tracker, but they aren’t as accurate as your Watch because they are not personalized to your specific body. You also can’t record past workouts on your gym treadmill like you can in your Watch to compare to your current workouts.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Working out in several intervals of high intensity exercise with short periods of rest in between, is called high intensity interval training and it has its own category in the Workout app on the Apple Watch. Since most of these kinds of exercises are stationary, to get an accurate calorie count, it is important to have a good heart rate reading. However, some of these activities can make it difficult to get a good reading because of the movements that they require. In these cases, you might want to consider investing in a bluetooth chest or arm band heart rate monitor.

Person hiking. Hiking is easily tracked by an Apple Watch

Hiking

As with the cycling workout category, the Apple Watch series 3 and above have the ability to track your elevation in real time when hiking with the built in altimeter. However, if you have the earlier series, you will need to have your iPhone with you if you want an accurate elevation reading.

Person striking a yoga pose. Yoga can be tracked using an Apple Watch

Other

If you want to participate in a different kind of activity that isn’t in the Workout app, you can choose the “other” category to create a different kind of workout. Not every workout fits into this box, but you still want to track how your heart rate is responding during certain activities. Some of these activities include dancing, surfing, strength training, and stretching. If you want to start one of these activities do the following:

  1. Start a workout and choose “other”
  2. When you’re done swipe one screen to the right and press “end”
  3. Name workout
  4. Save

This way you will be able to keep these workouts in your history and compare them in the future.

Conclusion

Unboxing your watch for the first time can be a little intimidating to a beginner. There are so many things you can do with it, but using the Apple Watch for workouts can be really easy, once you play around with it and personalize it to your specific settings.

Can fitness trackers detect sleep apnea?

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important for our health and well being. Sleep apnea is a condition which causes a person’s breathing to become interrupted whilst they are asleep. The effects of sleep apnea can be serious so it is important to look out for signs if it is happening to you.

Can a fitness tracker detect sleep apnea? Fitness trackers generate millions of data points and we are still at the earliest stage of development. Research companies such as cardio.gram are starting to apply machine learning to gain medical insights from the reams of data. Indeed, a recent study from them and the Health Lab at the University of California San Francisco concludes that a fitness tracker can be used to detect common symptoms of sleep apnea. For example, unusual heart rhythm. The research suggests that fitness trackers can identify this key indicator 97% of the time.

What is sleep apnea?

Well, sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that according to the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) affects 22 million Americans. Surprisingly, 80% of the cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) remain undetected. When left untreated, the disease cannot only be life-damaging but has been shown to greatly reduce life-expectancy.

Other side effects include:

  • Chronic heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Hyperactivity and poor impulse control in toddlers

We examine how advancement in the fit-tech industry has helped tackle sleep apnea detection. Highlighted also is considerations when purchasing the right tech and brands and products that have revolutionized the niche.

Why Buy a Fitness Tracker to Detect Sleep Apnea

A fitness tracker like the Fitbit Versa comes with sleep tracking which is capable of spotting patterns in how you sleep. A person suffering from sleep apnea is not always aware they have it and a fitness tracker can be really helpful in identifying underlying issues. It isn’t a silver bullet but if your sleep tracking does show a lot of disruptions it may help you decide that it is worth going seeing the doctor to investigate further.

It is clearly an area that manufacturers are taking seriously and performing lots of research. Apple recently purchased a sleep science company called Beddit. Not to be outdone, Fitbit have aggregated billions of nights of sleep data from users device to help them interpret sleep patterns These have then been incorporated into a score known as Sleep Score Beta (Sp02).  The recently launched Fitbit Charge 3 makes use of this functionality.

The clear goal is to provide government certified devices that are capable of automatically discovering sleep apnea and other sleep related issues

An example of the sleep tracking provided by the Fitbit Versa is shown below:-

Fitbit Versa sleep tracking functionality can be used to look for signs of sleep apneaFitbit Versa sleep tracking functionality can be used to look for signs of sleep apnea

 

How Fitness Trackers Detect Sleep Apnea

Just as with most wearable fit-tech, the tracker is worn on the wrist. The sensors keep account of all the data collected including your heart rate, breathing patterns and sleeping cycles. Inbuilt is a number of axis accelerators each monitoring how fast you move in any direction. This data is then transferred to the linked smartphone or laptop and processed by algorithms.

Sleep apnea symptoms occur during sleep. The patient usually stops breathing multiple times triggering the body to try and restore airflow to the chest. During this time, you will usually experience an elevated heart rate and wake up gasping for air parameters essential in providing apt sleep data.

Optical sensors detect how much sleep time the wearer spends in each stage of sleep. This data is assumed to indicate sleep’s quality. According to the to the VP of Research at Fitbit, their activity trackers can now track breathing disruptions which could be telltale signs of underlying sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Additionally, the device accurately tracks sleep cycles helping the user set up a sleeping schedule.

However, it is important to bear in mind that the tracker is only really attached to a single point on your body and will not provide the same results as you would obtain during a sleep study.

Make sure your fitness tracker is set up correctly

To get the most of your fitness tracker’s sleep tracking you need to ensure that you are wearing it correctly and that the settings are appropriate. This quick list should give you an idea of what to look out for:-

  1. Make sure that the sensitivity setting is set correctly – otherwise even the slightest move will be recorded and you are likely to get false positives
  2. Verify the data is sensible – it is important to tally the data from your tracker to make sure it tallies with how you’re feeling. For example, if you feel really tired make sure the reading from the tracker looks the same
  3. Make sure your device is fully charged so it can track the whole night’s sleep
  4. Wear your tracker according to the manufacturer’s guide and make sure it is able to take readings

Choosing the Right Fitness Tracker to Detect Symptoms

When it comes to wearables, the choices are endless. Available are competitive brands offering increasingly neat improvement. Features have improved from the generic sleep and step tracking to heart rate monitoring, increased sensors and smartphone notification.

So how do you choose a fitness tracker that will double as an activity log and detect sleep apnea?

  • Battery life is king
    Needless to say, you need to go for a fitness tracker that has longer battery life. Today, bands fall into two categories: those that need charging every five days via USB cable and those that have batteries last up to 6 months.
  • Accompanying app software
    What gives one sleep tracker competitive advantage over another is the accompanying applications and software. Go for wearables that have the option of downloading the app straight to the watch. For a premium you can get wrist-based access to your schedule.
  • Ease of operation
    How easy it is to sync the data back to your phone or laptop? Can you view the data from a third- party platform? These aspects are especially vital for individuals with little knowhow.
  • Comfort
    Check out the comfort of the design as you will most likely end up wearing the gadget for an extended period.
  • Accessories
    Accessories may include anything that can turn activity trackers into jewelry that matches your personal style. These may include double wrap bracelets, leather straps and pendants.

Related Questions

Can sleep apnea be cured with exercise? Exercise is the ideal treatment for sleep apnea. Several studies have shown that burning sufficiently have shown that burning sufficiently high levels of oxygen through exercise can reduce the severity of the disorder. A regular exercise regime opens up the upper airway preventing obstruction.

What are alternative sleep apnea treatment options? Other than CPAP, sleep apnea patients can wear an oral sleep apnea device preventing the airway from collapsing. Surgery, weight management programs and positional therapy are also alternatives. Most behavioural sleep specialist would also recommend looking into your lifestyle to see what changes can be made to help.

Best fitness tracker apps 2019

Best fitness tracker apps 2019

In this article, the best fitness trackers app for 2019 are introduced. The article is divided in four subcategories: exercising, food trackers, overall health, and mental health. For every category, one paid and one free app is discussed. The list of apps is composed by comparing different apps with each other, weigh the pros and cons against each other, and trying the apps out. These apps are chosen as best in their category, because they provide the user with the best tools to take both their physical and mental health to the next level.

We look at the apps that are out there across 3 main categories:-

  • Workout – these apps should focus on providing clear instructions on how the workout should be done as well as the possibility to modify your routine to meet your fitness needs.
  • Food trackers used to track food input and calories burnt to enable you to track what you have eaten and drunk throughout the day
  • Overall health apps to make sure you consider your health as a whole which provide relaxation and meditation techniques

Of course, there are thousands of fitness apps available in the app stores and we’ve tried to identify in our opinion the best in each of our 3 main categories.

Workout apps

Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer

Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer is the best free app in the category ‘Workout’ that is currently on the market. This is supported by the fact that users give the app a rating of 4.8 out of 5! The app offers a personalized fitness plan that is based on the equipment that is available in your own gym. The big plus of this app is that it starts with a personalized workout plan, which you can alter to your own wishes.

Your Gym

The app bases its workout schedule on the equipment that is available in your gym. It shows categories, such as ‘Free weights’, ‘Bars & Benches’, and ‘Cable Machines’, together with photos of the equipment. That way, the user can pick the equipment available. Your workout is made based on your fitness goals, workout duration, and experience.

The app is also able to split exercises in your workout according to a training method. The choices are:

  • Upper/Lower body split
  • Full Body
  • Push/Pull/Lower body split

After you have chosen your preferences, the app will provide you with a workout. If you are not satisfied with the workout, you can alter the workout to your wishes. Only change some small things, such as rep range and amount of sets? No problem, that is also possible in the app.

Paid subscription

Once you have managed the workout program and altered it to your wishes, you can start tracking your own program in the app. The app offers you an agenda in which your tracked workouts are visible. Although this is functionality is really handy, it is part of the paid subscription. If you want to track your workout in the app, you will have to pay for it.

Other extras that the app will provide once you have a paid subscription, is that you can see your fitness gains over time, you get a personalized workout every day and you will have more exercises and workout instructions available. The last but definitely not the least feature of a paid subscription, is that the app changes your workout program based on your progress.

Advantages

  • Workout is based on equipment present in your own gym
  • Popular training methods are used
  • Workout can be altered to personal wishes
  • Suitable for beginners and advanced gym goers

Disadvantages

  • App can be quite overwhelming at first
  • Progress overtime is only visible in the paid subscription

Freeletics

Freeletics is the overarching concept of four apps all with their own specified purpose. The four apps are:

  • Bodyweight training
  • Training in a gym
  • Running
  • Nutrition

A big advantage of Freeletics is that there are two different subscriptions available. For $80 a year, you can use the app for bodyweight training, training in a gym, and the running app. Do you want specialized nutrition advice, you can pay $10 extra and make use of that app as well. Unfortunately, it is not possible to only pay the $10 and use the nutrition app. To provide the user with a try-out period, there is a 14-day money back warranty. If you don’t like the app(s), you can just cancel the subscription and get your money back.

In general, the app has the same functionalities as the paid version of Fitbod. However, there are some extra features with which Freeletics sets itself apart. First of all, it is possible to design a program in which High Intensity Interval Training is used. This feature lets the user workout for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on personal preferences. In this workout, all body parts can be trained in a short period of time.

Secondly, the app offers a so called ‘alternative chart’. When doing exercises, it is possible that you don’t feel like doing this specific exercise. With an easy swipe movement, the user can consult the alternative chart and choose a different exercise that targets the same muscle group with the same intensity and rep ranges.

The last, but definitely not the least feature, is the personal nutrition advice that is offered. The app offers nutrition advice that is personalized for the user. It can be altered if needed by the user itself, which allows the user to include personal preferences.

A small disadvantage of the app is that in some cases, the rep range of an exercise is very high. Doing an exercise for 30 reps or more is not that appealing to user. The advice is to manually decrease the amount of reps in order to keep the exercises doable.

Food tracker apps

The general rule applies that if you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you track the food that you eat, the trackers calculates whether you are in a calorie deficit or a calorie surplus. There are many different trackers available, all with the same goal, track the food that is eaten. However, are there any food trackers that can go the extra mile for you? Yes, there are. MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary Pro are two food-tracking apps that really stand out from the crowd.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal starts by advising you about the daily number of calories you should take. This is based on height, weight, age, how active you are, and if you want to lose or gain weight. Based on the number of calories, the app calculates the ideal number of macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein). This is pretty basic and is done by every food tracking app. So, what are the big advantages of using MyFitnessPal?

First of all, the app has the highest number of products available in the app. With over 5 million products, it can be used all around the world with products from every big food chain or supermarket. When adding this food to your diary, the app gives you advice on the food. If it contains a lot of salt, the app will give you a warning on this. A lot of sugar? Same story!

Secondly, it is possible to scan the bar code of products. This makes it way easier to enter the products in your diary. Another very handy feature, is the fact that you can mark certain products as your favourites. If you eat chicken with rice and broccoli three times a week, then you can mark those products as favourites. This makes it easier to add them to your diary.

At last, the app provides you with the most essential things to track your calories. It allows you to track your food, weight, exercises on a daily basis. For tracking your burned calories, the advice is to use a fitness tracker like a Fitbit. The Fitbit tracks the number of calories you burn based on heart rate, activity level and exercise. The Fitbit synchronizes the burned calories with MyFitnessPal so that you will have an overview of eaten- and burned calories. Let the weight loss journey begin!

For $9.99 a month, or $49.99 a year, you can upgrade to premium. This allows you to track your calories even more precise, changing your macronutrient ratio, and it removes ads. However, for most users, the basic version is sufficient.

MyNetDiary Pro

The big advantage of MyNetDiary Pro is that the free version does not display ads. Compared with other food trackers, this is outstanding. As with MyFitnessPal, this app does what it is designed to do, it calculates and advises the daily number of calories, tracks the number of calories based on what you eat on a day and takes the amount of exercise on a daily basis into account. Then, what are the differences between the apps?

First, the database with products is smaller. Although the app searches and verifies the products that are registered in the app, it only contains roughly 700.000 products. Most of these products contain up-to-date and verified data but using the app worldwide can give you some problems.

Secondly, it is not possible to add favourites to the list. While this is a handy and possible feature of MyFitnessPal, MyNetDiary Pro does not have this feature.

This app also offers a paid subscription, which provides the same functions as MyFitnessPal. It allows the user to track the number of calories more efficiently, you can change your macronutrient ratio, and you can set personal macronutrient and exercise goals on a daily basis. Yet again, the free version of the app does what it is supposed to do and is therefore sufficient for most users.

But why should I pay for this app then? Well, the paid version gives you one big advantage. It allows you to keep track of your body measurement in the app, you can even track your micronutrient intake, and most importantly, you can download your diet history in Excel. This is especially useful when you are using a personal trainer who needs an overview of what you eat on a daily basis.

Overall health

In today’s fast moving society with greater responsibilities, social media and long working hours, burnouts and high stress levels are rising (source). For relaxation, reducing stress, better sleep and so on, we recommend either ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace’. These apps allow you to escape from your hectic life for a moment of relaxation, whether it is only for 2 minutes or for half an hour. Both apps come with a free subscription at first for a certain amount of days. After the free subscription has ended, a monthly-, yearly, or lifetime fee needs to be paid.

Calm

The biggest advantage of the calm app is that some content is still available after the trial period has ended. This means that you can still learn to meditate, sleep better, or concentrate better after the trial period. In 2017, the app was awarded as best app of the year in several countries, according to the developers of Apple (source). However, why was this the case? And is this still true in 2019? A very short answer can be given here. Yes, this is still true in 2019. If you want to find out why, read along!

First of all, the user experience of the app is very good. The background and overall feeling of the app is very soothing. This is also true for the voice that is used during meditation. When using the app, the voice makes you relaxed and really get into the zone.

Secondly, the app offers personalized meditation plans based on your preferences. For example, it is possible to try programs targeted at better sleep, reducing anxiety, and improving focus. The calendar that is provided with the app keeps track of your progress on the different programs.

At last, as was mentioned earlier, the app still provides content after the trial period has ended. This is very unique in comparison with other apps. If you subscribe for the paid version, you get all the available content, with the option to download programs when you do not have an internet connection. The programs are updated on a regular basis, which makes it very refreshing for the more experienced users. If you are new to the whole meditation scene, then this is the app to go with.

Headspace

Headspace also provides the user with a trial-period, which lasts for 10 days (3 days longer than the Calm app). Unfortunately, after the trial period has ended, there is no content available to carry on with meditation. You will have to buy the subscription in order to carry on with meditation. This is one of the major disadvantages of the app. We will leave it up to you if the subscription is worth it based on some advantages and disadvantages of the app. Let’s start with the advantages.

First of all, the app offers content in three different versions, packs, singles and minis. The packs offer a whole program that contains meditations specified to a certain theme. The meditation packs can last from 10 to 30 days, depending on which one you choose. The singles are short, single meditation sessions that last for somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes. This allows the user to choose a single meditation, without having to complete a whole program. Then there are the minis. These are meditation sessions that last between 1 to 3 minutes. Small, single sessions that make the user calm and relaxed again. The mini sessions are easy to fit in every schedule and can be done almost everywhere.

A small disadvantage is that the price of the app is a bit higher than with the Calm app. To compensate this, the app provides almost monthly updates of programs and sessions.

As we stated before, the app is not usable without paying, which makes it for most people less interesting. However, if you decide to pay for the app, it is totally worth it. The app gives users a moment of relaxation, peace and happiness.

Mental health

Two aspects that need to be pointed out at first here are that, firstly, both of the apps require personal investment, both in motivation and time. Secondly, the app does not miraculously solve your problems. It gives you guidelines and reflection on your day and feelings. For deeper problem, you should consult a specialist.

What’s up

The What’s up app is free to download for both Android and iOS. It is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and offers programs for self-reflection and happiness. By registering your feelings, thoughts and habits, the app makes you more conscious of them. It then allows you to rate your feelings, thought and habits to reflect on them.

If you have bad habits, you can track them with the app. Making you more conscious of those bad habits, is the first step in stopping these habits. The same holds for negative thoughts. When you are aware of the negative thoughts, you can train yourself to put the negative thoughts away. The What’s Up app provides you with guidelines and instructions on how to do this.

Advantages

  • Gives insight in both your good and bad habits, thoughts, and feelings
  • Accessible way of improving your mental health on a daily basis
  • No advertisement in the app

Disadvantages

  • There is no daily trigger or notification to open the app

Mood Kit

Mood Kit is another app that focuses on removing bad habits, negative thoughts and negative feelings. A disadvantage of mood kid is that it costs $4.99, but the app offers you a compensation for this with the ‘thought checker’. The ‘thought checker’ allows you to write down your thoughts and what you are doing with them to overcome them or to get rid of them. When having those thoughts again, you can act based on previous experiences with that thought.

To conclude, there are all kinds of apps available for different situations. The above-mentioned apps prove to be the best compared to other apps in their field. The free version might do the trick; however, do you want to go the extra mile? Do you want to get the last drop out of the bucket? Then subscribe to the paid subscriptions. This gives you many benefits and takes every app to the next level. And that is what we want after all; take ourselves to the next level!