Can Fitness Trackers Measure Blood Pressure?

Can Fitness Trackers Measure Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a big component of your health, which is why it is the first thing doctors will check each time you come in for a physical. It is something that most people rarely think about day to day, but is a great indicator of how healthy you are. 

So maybe this is of interest if you’re a fitness junkie, or even just curious

Can fitness trackers measure blood pressure? Well, yes and no. There are quite a few fitness trackers on the market today that claim to monitor blood pressure, and in all honesty, most of them have decent reviews for accuracy, though they seem to record a bit high. However, currently there is only one that is officially approved by the FDA for blood pressure monitoring. You can read more about that here. Read on to find out all the information about measuring blood pressure through fitness trackers.

What Is Blood Pressure?

The term “blood pressure” sounds so much nicer than the measurement of blood pushing against the sides of your blood vessels, but that is essentially what it is. When you measure your blood pressure it is just telling you how much strain your heart is going through to pump the blood throughout your body. 

What Is Your Target BP?

There are two parts to your blood pressure: systolic and diastolic. Systolic, the top number when reading blood pressure is always the highest as it is reading the amount the amount of pressure when your heart is pushing the blood. Diastolic is the bottom number and the lower number because it is reading when the heart is between beats. 

A normal resting BP reading is about 120/80 or below. Many people won’t have that exact blood pressure, but that is the normal range. Typically, the lower the blood pressure, the healthier you are, but of course there are limitations to that. If you get lightheaded easily or faint, then that is a good indicator that your blood pressure is too low. This can happen if your blood volume is low due to an injury or shock. However, if you have extremely low blood pressure readings and no symptoms, then you may just have an inaccurate reading. 

How Do Fitness Trackers Measure BP?

Measuring blood pressure with a fitness tracker is a complicated process, but you can read in depth about it here in our post “How Do Fitness Trackers Measure Blood Pressure?” 

Most fitness trackers use PPG or photoplethysmography, which means that your fitness tracker will emit a light source into your wrist and measure the reflected light as it bounces back to gauge the blood volume in your wrist. 

The FDA has not technically approved fitness trackers that use this method as an accurate blood pressure monitor, but many users have been surprised by how accurate they find their PPG trackers to be. It does tend to measure a bit higher than normal, so if you have a serious heart condition, you may want to ask your doctor what he or she recommends you use for a blood pressure monitor. Or you could use one of the external blood pressure monitors listed at the end of this post. Using your fitness tracker to monitor your blood pressure regularly while checking it occasionally with a cuff pressure monitor is also a great option. 

How Accurate Are Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors? 

If it is overly difficult for wrist fitness trackers to be approved by the FDA as a blood pressure monitor, then you can assume that they are difficult to make accurate. According to the Mayo Clinic, the wrist and fingers are challenging spots to get an accurate blood pressure reading because the the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the upper arm” (Mayo Clinic).

They go on to explain that another reason why wrist blood pressure readings are difficult to get is because the fitness tracker should be held at heart level each time to get an accurate reading. It is also difficult to get an active reading since every kind of blood pressure monitoring method, whether by cuff or through PPG, is sensitive to movement.

For these reasons, blood pressure readings at the wrist, especially continuously through PPG monitoring are more than likely at least slightly inaccurate. Though there is groundbreaking new technology being developed all the time. You can read about the new technology being worked on by Tufts Medical School and the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the end of this post here.  

Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor Options

Because blood pressure is difficult to measure at the wrist, many fitness trackers haven’t developed this feature to where it is working perfectly. However, all fitness experts recognize the importance of having a low blood pressure and that tracking your blood pressure throughout the day can be helpful to figure out how to get your health where you want it to be. 

For this reason, some fitness trackers are equipped with app capabilities to connect to an external blood pressure monitoring device. 

You may wonder why you would ever want to have an external device that connects to your phone, tablet, or watch rather than just to have a generic blood pressure monitor. There are a few reasons why connecting to your device is a feature you would want to look for. 

  1. It’s convenient to record the data.
  2. All your fitness information will be stored in one place.
  3. You can easily send this information to your physician for reference.
  4. You can view trends and compare them against activity levels during your day. 

Here are some of the blood pressure monitoring devices that are compatible with phones:

MOCACuff

This is FDA approved and the reading is taken at the wrist, which is convenient. This cuff is compatible with both iOS and Android using the MOCACARE app. 

QardioArm

Compatible with iOS and Android for use with phones, tablets, and smartwatches through Bluetooth and free app. This is medically accurate and very portable. 

Omron Gold Blood Pressure Monitor

This wrist worn monitor is comfortable and easy to use, especially for people who experience discomfort with upper arm readings. This is compatible with iOS, Android, and Alexa enabled devices. It can be used to track blood pressure for two users and connects to devices through Bluetooth. One other helpful feature is position directing; it will tell you when your wrist is in the correct position at heart level. It also is discreet and completely silent when inflating. 

OMRON 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor

Like the Gold Blood Pressure Monitor, the Omron 10 series is wireless, for up to two users. It will take three consecutive readings and average them to get the most accurate reading possible. 

Greater Goods Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor Cuff

This is an affordable option for a wireless blood pressure cuff that connects to your smartphone. A portion of all sales goes to charity as well. 

Conclusion

Overall, measuring blood pressure is much more complicated than it sounds and putting it in a fitness tracker is a huge challenge to undertake. This will be the next big thing to look for in fitness trackers throughout the next few years, and whatever company figures out the technology to get the most accurate readings will likely have an edge over the market. 

Fitness Trackers for Nurses

Fitness Trackers for Nurses

Before we start looking into the fitness tracker element of this post we want to say how much we appreciate the work that nurses do around the world.

Nursing is a rewarding and challenging career that comes with its fair share of highs and lows. The satisfaction that comes from helping others is tempered by the downsides. Often, you may face difficult situations involving patients, colleagues, emotions. Couple this with long hours, stress and extended periods of being on your feet that involve physical aspects of moving people and equipment.

What if you could monitor some of these aspects of your job with a fitness tracker? We’ve taken a look at the options currently out there to try and find the 3 best fitness trackers for nurses

Fitness trackers for nurses break into 2 different categories:-

  • Worn on the wrist where the tracker is similar to an old fashioned wrist watch. Price determines the features you get. Typically, as a minimum you get step tracking and calories burnt.
  • Clip on where the fitness tracker is worn either round the belt loop. These are useful if you have a policy such as in the UK where nothing should be worn below the elbow. Typically, these have a more restricted feature set.

Fitness trackers for nurses

For nurses, the following features will help you get the most out of your fitness tracker:-

  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Reasonable battery life to cope with long shifts
  • If wrist worn an always on display so that you can measure a patient’s vitals easily without needing to touch the watch if you have gloves on
  • A fitness tracker that is good for both your home life and your work life
  • Ability to measure metrics such as steps taken throughout shifts

1. Fitbit Versa 2

fitness trackers for nurses

The successor to the highly successful Fitbit Versa. The Versa 2 builds on the solid foundations with some additional functionality. Key for nurses, will be the ability to configure an always on display. Although, this will require more frequent charging. If not using the always on display battery life is around 4-6 days. Other key features are a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, 24/7 step tracking, waterproof, smart phone notifications and if you have an Android phone the ability to respond to messages via Alexa.

If you’re not concerned with owning the latest versions the original Versa is still an excellent value for money fitness tracker. It is a hybrid of smart watches and an activity tracker whilst still not being as expensive as an Apple Watch or as advanced as a Fitbit Ionic. Water resistant with features like a heart rate monitor and sleep tracking which you can monitor through the Fitbit app.

You can also customise it using custom watch faces available from the Fitbit App store such as this one called Medical Professional. It is specifically designed to make it easy for medical professionals to take vitals.

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2. Garmin Vivomove HR

The Garmin Vivomove HR falls into what are know as hybrid smartwatches. The advantage is that the watch face looks like a traditional watch with a seconds hand. In reality, the watch face is actually a touch screen giving you access to more advanced features such as all day stress tracking, smart phone notifications and silent alarms. The watch face is a great idea but there are some reports that in certain light conditions it can be difficult to see.

If you’re not sure the Garmin Vivomove is for you we look at some other options in our post fitness trackers that look like watches

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3. Fitbit Zip

fitness trackers for nurses

The Fitbit Zip is small compact and limited in functionality towards some of the wrist worn trackers. However, if you need to comply with a bare below the elbows policy it is a good choice. The Zip fits in a silicone sleeve which you wear on your person typically over your belt loop.

Functionally, it is very simple with most of the data being available on the screen. Tapping on the screen will cycle between different stats including distance travelled, the time, steps taken and calories burnt (all between midnight to midnight). Due to its simplicity it uses a watch battery giving a battery life of 4-6 months. The downside of this is you miss out on a lot of features of the other trackers such as alarms, sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring. It also isn’t waterproof.

If you’re not sure about the Fitbit Zip check out alternative suggestions in our post on the best clip on fitness trackers.

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Stylish Fitness Trackers for Women

Stylish Fitness Trackers for Women

Back in the early 2000s fitness trackers were just barely coming onto the market and there weren’t a whole lot of options for what to get, in terms of features and styles. However, those days are over and now the opposite is the problem, there are almost too many options to choose from. Many of the fitness trackers on the market are accurate and have a plethora of apps or features that you can pair with your devices to track your movements long term. 

So what are the most stylish fitness trackers for women available today? That depends on what your style is. Below is a comprehensive list of any style you would ever want in a fitness tracker. 

The Hybrid

Fitness trackers used to be primarily for people who were pretty sporty 24/7, or at least okay putting on that persona. Now more than ever, people from all walks of life are interested in keeping an eye on their health, but this doesn’t mean that everyone wants to always wear a tracker that has the look of a gym accessory. 

For some reason, having an analog watch face elevates you to a higher level of classiness. This is similar to the effect that driving a manual transmission has. It is by no means a necessary thing to have, and most models of cars don’t have this option, but when other people know you drive a manual, it elevates you in their mind. Sure, digital watches are more convenient, but analogs will always be a classic. Plus, the futuristic aerodynamic look of a modern fitness tracker, might not go with every outfit. 

For this very reason, several designers have partnered with tech companies to develop smart watches that pair the classic design of an analog watch with some of the features of a digital fitness tracker. These are called hybrids; they have the best qualities of both analogs and smartwatches. 

Here are some of the consumers favorites: 

  • Fossil Gen 4 Venture
  • Fossil Q Jacqueline
  • Tory Burch Torytrack Gigi
  • Kate Spade Raven Scallop
  • Salvatore Ferragamo F-80
  • Michael Kors Sofie smartwatch
  • Garmin Vivomove HR 
  • Withings
  • Timex IQ+ Move
  • Bellabeat Time

Hybrid Vs. Smartwatch

One of the biggest debates that people have when they are contemplating the purchase of a fitness tracker is what is the difference between a hybrid and a smartwatch or fitness tracker, and which is better?

It comes down to what you will be using it for and what your style is. If you just really like the style of the analog watches, then there are several smartwatches that you can use with an analog display. However, the hybrid watches are much more authentic looking. 

Basically, hybrid watches, style wise, are the more obvious choice, however, if features are as important or more important than style, then a smartwatch or a fitness tracker may be more your speed. Here are some of the things to consider about hybrids vs. smartwatches.

Battery Life

One of the big features that people love about hybrids is that the battery doesn’t drain quickly. It runs on a typical watch battery, not a lithium rechargeable one, so it will last for months. This however, means that it isn’t as connected to your phone as you may want it to be. Because it runs on a small watch battery, it reserves battery power by limiting the syncing time to only when you manually sync it. In short, it isn’t in constant contact with your phone, so while you are tracking your progress continually, if you want to see it on your device screen, you will need to go through a process of syncing. This doesn’t last long, but it might be a nuisance that you’d rather not live with. 

Accuracy

For a consumer with a slight interest in fitness, a hybrid would do just fine, however there have been complaints that it is not as accurate or sensitive as a fitness tracker or a smartwatch. Many people have noted that a treadmill will register much more distance covered than a hybrid will register. There are ways to mess with the sensitivity of the hybrid, and as always with fitness trackers, it is important to wear the watch snugly on the wrist slightly above the wrist bones. 

Fitness Features

Hybrids will typically have some kind of display of at least one category that it tracks, such as heart rate, sleep, calories burned, or step counting. More often than not, it will not have all of these displayed on the watch face, or it can be a bit difficult to scroll through these tracked categories. The information that you want tracked is being tracked and stored, however the access to it isn’t as easy as it is with a smartwatch or some fitness trackers display. 

The user also doesn’t have the benefit of being able to compare their daily results on their watch face or set goals for themselves, like they would be able to on a smartwatch. Some smartwatches even have a “personal trainer” feature where they will get motivation and advice from the watch to pick up the pace or try to lower their heart rate. These features are absolutely not available in a hybrid. 

Connectivity

Though hybrid watches have many of the same features of a smartwatch, their connectivity is much less. There are some hybrid watches that will slightly vibrate when you get a notification on your phone, but many do not. The watches will connect with your phone, but it is not meant to be a smaller version of your phone. If you don’t mind unplugging while you work out, this shouldn’t be a problem for you, but if you constantly want to be aware of your notifications, a smartwatch may be a product you would be most interested in. 

The Sporty Sport

If you are a sporty woman who likes to dress that way, there are many more options available. Fitness trackers were primarily made for those interested in fitness, after all. In fact, most of the designs are sporty, so the best way to narrow down the choices is by the features that they provide or just personal design preference. 

If you are looking for something with the most fitness related features and the best level of accuracy, you will find that those usually tend to have a sporty design. These options are sleek, durable, and comfortable to work out in: 

  • Garmin Vivosmart 4
  • Fitbit Versa
  • Fitbit Charge 3
  • Apple Watch
  • Fitbit Inspire HR
  • Xiaomi Mi Band 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Fit

Best Sports Features

There are people who wear fitness trackers out of a curiosity of their fitness level and a desire to increase activity, and then there are those who are devoted to fitness as a lifestyle and really want to see specific improvements. For those who want to see accurate improvements in their fitness statistics, a fitness tracker geared specifically for working out (and style secondary) is the best bet. Here is a list of some of the most important things to look for in a sports fitness tracker.

Durability

As far as style goes, a person who regularly goes to the gym or works out outside will want a design that is durable to withstand collisions with weights or possibly harsh weather conditions. 

Features to look for would be: 

  • Silicone or similar material strap options
  • Protected screen with durable bevel 
  • Smaller screen for fitness trackers 
  • High ATM water resistance
  • Secure latches

Accuracy

When you are training for a competitive sport the variance of a mere second can make all the difference in some of your goals, so accuracy in a fitness tracker is imperative. If you want to learn more about accuracy in fitness trackers and which ones are the most accurate on the market, check out our post here

Water Resistance

You might not think that water resistance is a big deal if you’re not a swimmer, but there are other reasons why it is important. Fitness trackers that have screens in the past needed to stay as dry as possible to function properly, however now it is pretty standard to at least have a water resistance rating of 3 ATM. Of course, 3 ATM isn’t much water resistance; it basically covers hand washing and rain. If you want to do any kind water fitness or even shower with your tracker on, then you will need at least a water resistance rating of 5 ATM. A fitness tracker is meant to be worn as often as possible, so if you have to worry about running in bad weather or taking it off for showers, then it isn’t very convenient. 

If you want a more in depth conversation of water resistant fitness trackers, you can find our post on it here

Sleep Tracker

Another great feature to have on your fitness tracker is a sleep tracker. Though you may feel this is unnecessary, you might be surprised by how little good quality sleep you get each night. Recovery periods are arguably just as important as exercise, and sleep plays a vital part in the recovery process. If you aren’t getting good sleep, then you might not be able to work your body to its full potential, let alone have the energy to do it. 

Once you have some data about your sleep, you can make adjustments to increase the quality of it. You may need to go to sleep earlier or you might need to sleep with a noise maker to reduce waking times during the night. Whatever it is, a sleep tracker will be able to tell you the quality of your sleep and if the adjustments that you make are working. 

The Camouflage

There are many people who like to keep a close eye on their fitness throughout the day. There are a lot of people who like to participate in fitness challenges and constantly talk about if they have fulfilled their daily goals. And there are the people who are interested in tracking their fitness, but they don’t want to think about just that. In fact, they may like that the information is there if they want to look at it, but they don’t want any nudges or notifications throughout the day. These are the people who want to track their own progress, but they want to stay relatively unplugged. 

Does this sound like you? You might be one of the people who prefers to have a more subtle fitness tracker look. In fact, if the random passerby didn’t know much about fitness trackers, they could completely miss that you were wearing one. The drawback of having no screen is also its strength. It is not a distraction throughout your day while tracking all your movements.

Here are some examples of the favorite low key fitness trackers that blend in so well, they might as well be camouflage. 

  • Moov Now
  • Bellabeat Leaf Urban
  • Ringly Luxe Smart Ring
  • Ringly Luxe Smart Bracelet
  • Misfit Shine (with Bloom Necklace)
  • Michael Kors Access Bracelet
  • Mira Wellness and Activity Bracelet
  • Joule Earring
  • Fitbit Flex 2 Pendant
  • Motiv Ring
  • Misfit Ray

Thin 

Though many people have found that most of the fitness tracker smartwatches are fairly comfortable to work out with, there are some who prefer to have as little nuisance of a screen on them as possible. You don’t have to have a smartwatch to take advantage of all the fitness tracking features you could ever want. A large, scrolling screen is completely unnecessary to track all the things that you would want during a workout. 

Screens, of course, are convenient if you want to keep an eye on your phone calls as they come in or message friends, but if you don’t care about that, then a thin fitness tracker band is where it’s at. A screen might offer a bit more personalisation for your workout, but you can still get all the important things tracked without one. 

Here are some of the best thin fitness trackers:

  • Fitbit Flex
  • Misfit Ray
  • Jawbone UP
  • Garmin Vivosmart 4
  • Fitbit Alta
  • Amazfit Equator
  • Xiaomi Mi Band 3

The Boyfriend

Are you the type of person who is constantly stealing her boyfriend’s pants and hoodies? Well, there is a fitness tracker for you. Oversized watches has been on trend for a few years now and has no signs of going away soon. So it is safe to say, if you are the type of person who likes things a little bigger, there are fitness trackers–mostly smartwatches that will fill that need.

One important thing to note, however, many people who wear oversized watches will wear them loosely, meaning that the band doesn’t fit snugly against their skin. If this is the style you are going for, you may need to just look for an analog watch. Fitness trackers should be worn snug against the skin so that the wearer can get the most accurate heart rate reading. 

So if the band isn’t oversized, what exactly makes it a “boyfriend” fitness tracker? Below is a compiled list of the smartwatches on the market with some of the largest screens. These big watch faces will give a woman the appearance of a petite wrist, which is what the boyfriend craze is all about anyway–appearing small in oversized clothes and accessories. 

  • Tissot T-touch
  • Fossil Gen 5
  • Samsung Galaxy
  • Garmin Forerunner 245
  • LEMFO Lem4 Pro
  • Diesel Full Guard 2.5
  • Movado Face

The Changeable Bands

It’s imaginable that most women don’t feel like they belong to one particular category mentioned above. The good news is that you don’t have to put yourself into a box like that. You can actually have it all. You can have a fitness tracker that can morph into whatever persona you are putting on for the day or the event. The way you can do this is through changeable bands. 

The manufacturer of the fitness trackers that have removable bands typically have a couple of options available, but there is a whole slew of options on the market that will fit any style you can think of. 

There are straps that are ultra comfortable and don’t trap sweat. There are bands that are feminine and flirty. There are leather bands that add a little bit of sophistication and class to your outfit. Then, of course, there are blingy bands that will really make your ensemble pop. You can even find a faux scrunchie smartwatch strap for Apple Watches, which will please any VSCO girl out there. 

Anyone can find interchangeable straps for their fitness tracker bands in department stores or on sites like Amazon, Ebay, or  Etsy. The two best fitness trackers with the most options for changeable straps are:  

  • Apple Watch (any series)
  • Fitbit Versa

Your style is what you make it, and there really aren’t any bad designs for any of the above mentioned fitness trackers. Though some may be more durable and others may be more feminine, you will still be able to find a great quality product from the above lists with a stunning design that will impress anyone who sees it. 

Are Fitness Trackers Waterproof?

Are Fitness Trackers Waterproof?

Even if you’re not a regular swimmer, you can still find value in a waterproof fitness tracker. Running in the rain is not a problem. Accidentally dropping your tracker in a puddle or forgetting it’s on when you step into the shower are no big deal. Even washing the dishes is something you don’t have to take your fitness tracker off for anymore. 

Water resistant fitness trackers just make life easier and less worrisome. If you have water resistant fitness tracker, it can truly go where you go and do what you do, only needing to stop occasionally to charge. 

So are fitness trackers waterproof? There are many that are. To stay competitive in this market, most fitness trackers are becoming waterproof, though there are still some that are not, so it is always important to not assume that they are if you are buying one. Waterproofing is something that is becoming standard, but there are some that perform better or have better features than others. Here’s a little explanation of that.

Some Top Rated Waterproof Fitness Trackers

First of all, not all waterproof fitness trackers are created equal. There are many on the market but some have performed better through customer reviews and testing. Here is a list of some of the current top rated waterproof fitness trackers. 

  • Tom Tom Spark 3
  • Garmin Vivoactive HR
  • Fitbit Ionic
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Letscom FItness Tracker HR
  • Garmin Forerunner 735 XT
  • Polar A360 
  • LetsFit
  • ToBeFit

This list is not necessarily the best swimming fitness trackers, but it is the highest rated fitness trackers that do well fully immersed underwater for lengthy amounts of time. Check lower down in this article to see more information about swimming fitness trackers. 

What Makes Some Better?

Water resistance and being “splash proof” is different from being waterproof. And according to the Consumer Reports there is “no such thing” as a completely waterproof device. Everything has its limits. The limits have to do with the amount of water it can withstand, such as a few drips of rain versus full immersion, and at what pressure it starts to malfunction. 

Your device, if it claims to be waterproof, should give you a specific measurement of how water resistant it is. It usually will say that it can withstand a depth of 30 meters (3ATM) or something similar. This means static pressure at 30 meters, which is different from the pressure that a watch would experience as it hits the surface of the water as you dive into a pool, for example. Depending on what you want to use it for, it can be pretty easy to determine if it will fit your needs. 

Most standard watch companies state that any watch water resistant to less than 3ATM are not considered waterproof and should not be used for swimming. 

Do They Function Well In Water?

So your device can survive water, but can it function in the water? Many water resistant fitness trackers will be functional afterward, but they aren’t able to record heart rate while a swimming activity is taking place. This may not be a big deal if you are just swimming recreationally, but if you are competing or training for a race, you may find this to be an inconvenience. 

Most water resistant fitness trackers, even the ones that record swimming activities, don’t record the heart rate, but there are some out there that will. The Garmin HRM Swim and HRM Tri both fit on a chest strap and will record the heart rate while pairing to the Garmin Swim smartwatch. There is also the Whoop Strap fitness tracker that will effectively measure heart rate both in and out of the water, though it doesn’t record or track anything else. 

What Swimming Apps Are Available?

Where there are fitness trackers and smart watches, there are even more apps available to use with them. Since there are several apps on the market especially geared toward swimming, it can be confusing trying to decide which one works best for you. There are some key points to think about when you are picking a fitness app, and here are some tips. 

What Device Do You Have?

Not all apps work on all fitness trackers or smartwatches. Some fitness trackers come with a swimming tracker built in for more ease of use, but many people will still go out and download another one if it has good reviews and has more features. Just make sure that the particular app works with your device, since some Android and iOS applications cannot be interchangeable. 

What Workouts Are You Doing?

If you are solely focusing on swimming, then you really only need to find an app that works for swimming, but if you have several interests and you would like them to all be tracked in one spot, you may want to download a fitness app that keeps all your exercise information in one place. 

Investment?

There are a lot of really great apps available whether or not they are free. Some of the paid for ones have more features or just don’t bombard you with ads, but some free ones may have exactly what you need, so they are worth checking out. Here is a list of highly rated free and paid-for apps for swimming. 

Free Swimming Apps

  • Training Peaks
  • MySwimPro
  • Swim.com
  • Deck Pass
  • Swim IO
  • GoSwim
  • Swimmo

Paid Swimming Apps

  • iSwimTimes
  • SwimPB
  • Swim Radar
  • Swim Coach
  • Swim Speeds

Again, you often get what you pay for, so you may want to take a deeper look at some of the paid for apps to see what kind of features you get. If you are serious about swimming or training for a competition, it may be worth the investment. 

What Are The Best Waterproof Swimming Trackers?

Technology required to be waterproof, as well as perform well in the water is still pretty cutting edge. Though there are many fitness trackers available that claim water resistance, if you stick to the watches and trackers that have greater than 3 ATM water resistance rating and are equipped to use some of the best swimming apps on the market, then the list narrows. Here are some of the very best swimming fitness trackers. 

Apple Watch Series 4

The Apple Watch continues to impress each time it comes out with a new version and the Series 4 has been most impressive with it’s waterproof capabilities. It even has a handy speaker protection function that will toss the water droplets out of the speakers with a burst of sound. This watch is high functioning, but may be a bit pricey if you are looking solely for a fitness tracker that can be used in water. But really, if you invested in this product, you would most likely enjoy the other features as well. 

Garmin Forerunner 935

The Forerunner is one of the favorite among triathlon athletes as it has a feature that switches between biking, running, and swimming seamlessly. This tracker also offers manual input of swimming workouts along with stroke auto detection, so you can input kicking drills into your workout routine as well. Though, as with most swimming fitness trackers, you lose the heart rate from the wrist when you go into the water, the Garmin Forerunner 935 can pair with a chest strap tracker such as the HRM-Tri or HRM-Swim to track heart rate while in the water. 

Misfit Shine 2

This fitness tracker is one of the most lightweight fitness trackers built primarily for swimming. In fact, the Misfit Shine 2 was produced with the help of Speedo, so you know it has swimming as its focus. It does have a replaceable battery rather than a rechargable one, which in some cases is more convenient because you don’t have to stop to recharge it every couple of days. 

Fitbit Flex 2

The Flex 2 is another lightweight, slim option for a fitness tracker, but this does come with its downsides. Though it performs well in the water, you will not be able to stop and check your progress. This may be a non issue, since it’s difficult to track swimming in real time on any device. 

Water resistance in a fitness tracker is something that many people are looking for. Most people want to have a fitness tracker that can go wherever they go without limitations. Having a good quality water resistant fitness tracker means that you can run and bike in the rain, do the dishes, shower, and swim without issues. If you are in the market for a fitness tracker, water resistance should be one of the features that you consider. 

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 2020)

11 Best Smartwatches for Working out (In 2020)

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.

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