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 3||Letscom ID131HR||More Pro||Xiaomi Mi Band 3||Garmin Vivo Sport||Huawei Talkband 4||Moov Now||Polar a370||Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro|
|Heart Rate Monitor||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (if activated)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Calories Burned Tracked||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Distance and Steps Tracked||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|GPS||Connected GPS via Phone||Connected GPS via Phone||Connected GPS via Phone||No||Built In GPS||Connected GPS via Phone||Connected GPS via Phone||Connected GPS via Phone||Built in GPS||No|
|Battery Life||7 days constant usage||7 days||7 days||20 days||8 hours with constant use of GPS otherwise 7 days||3 days||6 months using watch battery||4 days||3 - 5 days||3 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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
- Go to a clear open area outside with good GPS and reception.
- Open the workout app and tap outdoor walk or run.
- Walk or run for 20 minutes.
- 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Go to My Watch app
- Go to General
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Start a workout and choose “other”
- When you’re done swipe one screen to the right and press “end”
- Name workout
This way you will be able to keep these workouts in your history and compare them in the future.
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.
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
- 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:-
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:-
- 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
- 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
- Make sure your device is fully charged so it can track the whole night’s sleep
- 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.
Check out the comfort of the design as you will most likely end up wearing the gadget for an extended period.
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.
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.
In this article, the best fitness trackers fitness apps 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 fitness 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 meet their fitness goals and take both their physical and mental health to the next level.
We look at the best fitness tracker apps that are out there across 3 main categories:-
- Workout apps – these 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 and fitness 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.
Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer
Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer is the best free workout app 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! Focused mainly on strength training the app features a personalized fitness plan 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 routine, which you can alter to your own wishes.
The app bases its workout routine 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.
Once you have managed the workout program and altered it to your wishes, you can start tracking your custom workouts 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 levels over time, 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, almost taking the place of a personal trainer.
- 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
- App can be quite overwhelming at first
- Progress overtime is only visible in the pro subscription
Freeletics is the overarching concept of four apps all with their own specified purpose. The four apps are:
- Bodyweight training
- Training in a gym
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 features 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 features 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- There is no daily trigger or notification to open the app
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!
Want a healthier, happier dog? Are you looking for a way to keep your furry friend motivated and help them achieve their fitness goals? Well, consider getting a fitness tracker fo your dog.
Dog owners can leverage technology through the wearable fitness trackers to monitor the wellness of their four-legged friends. These can pick up any early-onset health and behavioral changes that may indicate underlying problems. The collar-gadget relays information on how much activity and rest your hound is getting as well as pinpointing their location throughout the day all relayed to your smartphone.
With a fitness tracker you take charge of your dog’s wellness. You get incredibly valuable baseline data helping you and your veterinary doctor keep track of your dog’s health over an extended period.
Choosing the right Fitness Tracker for you Dog
Now that the same technology that has benefited humans is making its way to pets, it is important to choose the right device.
First off, you do not want to be stuck with a device with lots of features you will never get to use.
Activity monitors for dogs are divided into three levels:
- A basic activity monitor.
This works very similar to a pedometer and costs the least. Even though these are not the most accurate, they give a general overview of your dog’s activities.
- A sophisticated monitor
This usually featured GPS tracking and more accurate data. You are also able to relay the information to other synced devices. You get better protection for your pet with this and the data is more accurate.
- Advanced devices
With these, you can track the heart rate, respiration, body temperature and movements. You can have one with cameras and calorie intake counter.
Functions to look for in a fitness tracker
- GPS tracker
Missing pets are a real concern for any dog owner especially since dogs have a way of getting themselves in trouble. This is especially helpful for urban dwellers as dogs suffer from noise anxiety which translates to them dashing off unexpectedly. Additionally, a GPS tracker on your Fitbit will help you notice any change in activity. This information could be used to flag any oncoming illnesses saving you further complications.
- Bluetooth Connectivity
Syncing your dog’s Fitbit with a Bluetooth device comes in handy especially when you need to find out the location of your pet.
- Ability to sync to App for Veterinary Records
For dog owners leading busy lives, having an activity tracker that can efficiently relay the record to the vets. Here, you can sync the data to your phone or directly to your dog’s file at the vet’s office.
- Progress tracker
Fortunately, this function is a standard in the pet technology industry. With this function, you are able to track your dog’s progress and compare this to other dogs of similar breed, age and size.
Reasons to get an Activity Tracker for Your Dog
- Help your dog lose weight
Obesity is a common disorder among dogs of all ages and has been on a steady rise in the recent past. Notably, castrated and indoor dogs have a higher risk of becoming obese. Additionally, recent data indicates there are dogs with a genetic predisposition to obesity. Consequences range from blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and immobility of the pet. Fortunately, combining diet and a workout regimen can have your dog back in good health in no time.An activity tracker can help track the amount of exercise your dog is getting. Combining the tracker with an application to keep track of the pet’s heart rate, day’s activities and rest intervals will be handy when designing an activity log for the dog. These can then be turned into actionable behavior helping you make better choices for the pet throughout the day.
- Enables you to keep track of your dog’s stimulation
Many behavioral issues in canines stem from lack of sufficient stimulation. While your dog’s thought and emotions may not be as complex as our own, they still need their minds stimulated. An activity tracker will show you the difference in the intensities of their activities to make sure their minds are stimulated enough. This is particularly useful for pet owners dealing with destructive dogs. The tracker will show you the intervals when the dog is not getting enough stimulating engagement leading to flair-ups.
- Helps monitor your dog’s outings when they are with the walker
Most dog owners constantly pound over what the sitter does when they are out with their dog. This fear is alleviated further when the pet starts to add on weight or becomes extra clingy when they return home from their walk. Well, a fitness tracker, one specially fitted with a GPS tracker, will help you monitor its activity when they are out on their walk. You can remotely access the data on the path they followed, the stopovers and the intensity of the activities they got into while at the park or during the walk.Fitbit will put your mind at ease about your four-legged friend while ensuring you get value for your money from the caretaker especially when you go on vacation.
- Helps you both get fit together
Are you on the lookout for a device that will help you and your furry friend achieve your fitness goals? Well, consider an activity tracker. It is given that if your dog is wearing an activity tracker, so are you. You can input predetermined distances and activities to ensure you not only spend quality time together but reach your fitness goals as a team.
- Keep track of the quality of rest your pet’s getting
While there are benefits to walking your dog, dogs require rest days too.Rest habits and requirements differ across breeds. Notably, older dogs require significantly more sleep. To maximize on the rest days, ensure your dog has no interaction with the outside world. This will act as a stress detox for the dog ensuring their emotional well-being.Your device logs can help you achieve the required rest time for your breed ensuring a balance between mental and physical stimulation and rest.
- You can extend your personal style to your dog with the fitness tracker
The world of pet fitness trackers has a come a long way so much so that it is possible to match your personal style with that of your pooch. You can get matching sets of trackers which is a sure way to start conversations at the dog park.
Considerations when choosing a fitness tracker
Are you considering hydrotherapy for your dog? Maybe you want to keep your working dog in shape, ease its arthritic pain or get some practice on an operated limp. Well, consider tracked water therapy.You want to go for a pet activity tracker that can sustain water pressure of up to 50 meters. Additionally, you could consider getting tracker adjustable modes to help with goal setting.
- Battery life and Charging
To get the most out of the fitness for your pet, you need to have him wearing it on a regular basis. You cannot afford to have the fitness tracker go dead on you and miss out on all the important stats. When choosing the activity tracker, go for a device that features a replaceable coin cell battery that is rated for a longer period of use.Other than getting a super durable activity tracker, you can set up a calendar reminder based on the manufacturer’s rated battery life.When it comes to battery life, it is imperative to note that activity trackers featuring sophisticated add-ons like the GPS have a shorter battery life. Basic units only tracking the dog’s activity generally last longer.
You want to go for a tracker with an OLED screen. These will usually display the pet’s daily metrics and with a little tweaking, you could have the same relayed to your smartphone. Most users report that having an LED display is less distracting to the pet.
- Spec- Weight and Size
The most important consideration when choosing a fitness tracker should be the size and weight of the device. You have to consider the size of your dog when shopping. Ideally, a smaller unit will not impair the dog’s movement. Most manufacturers advertise their units as being feather-weight but you may want to try a couple on your dog to see just how much they like it.
- Location tracking
Having a GPS tracker in-built with your activity tracker provides more value for your money. While this may cost a pretty penny, having real-time location sent to your phone will help you locate your pet all through and give you all the data you crave.
- Subscription Charges
Subscription charges on pet activity trackers are dependent on the complexity of the device. When you go for a simple unit and work with the current set-up, you do not have to incur any subscription fees.Notably, when you want to use GPS tracking or have a camera installed on the tracker, you will have to pay a subscription fee as agreed upon at the point of purchase.
In the recent past, the accuracy of activity trackers has come under question. It is, therefore, necessary for consumers to be aware that the device may not provide the most accurate data. This is especially true for variables such as energy expenditure and calorie intake.Fortunately, industry players have adopted advanced technology to help yield the most accurate data.The best fitness trackers use algorithms to analyze your pet’s movement to ascertain the heart rate accurately represents the pet’s activity.
Best Fitness Trackers for Dogs
Developed by veterinary doctors, the Fitbark is cleverly bone-shaped. This second-generation fitness tracker uses an accelerometer to track your dog. The Fitbark eliminates the need for a subscription service. When you buy the tracker, you input the dog’s weight, breed, and activity. From this, a daily target is set and feedback relayed to a synced gadget. The wearable breaks down the information into graphs and the pet owner is able to track the dog’s activities, rest and calorie intake.The Fitbark has a battery life of approximately 6 months. This provides uninterrupted feedback that comes in handy at the next veterinary visit. It weighs a meager 10g means your dog will not be stuck with a heavy wearable. The charger point is firmly closed and covered with a rubber cap ensuring your unit remains waterproof.With the Fitbark you are provided with a daily health index which considers your dog’s breed, age, and weight. Basically, this monitor’s your dog’s activities and compares the same to dogs of similar parameters.
The Pitpat has to be the simplest activity tracker in the market today and takes just a few minutes to have up and running. At just 12g, the tracker is lightweight and comes attached to a Velcro that goes around the dog’s collar. This tracker is particularly attractive to dog owners with smaller breeds as it does not slip off as easy.As you are setting up the tracker, you get to create a profile for your furry friend. Here, you input their breed, gender, birthday and weight, and a goal is calculated. When you engage in any activity, you press the paw icon and the tracker syncs with the app on your phone. All the information including the duration of the workout is relayed to the phone real time.A neat feature of the Pitpat activity tracker is the community created by the developers. Here, dog owners using the tracker can connect with other pet owners sharing their experiences. Additionally, the App provides you with exercise suggestions making sure you explore more activities other than just walks.
At just 6g, this dog activity tracker is considered featherweight and can easily be attached to the collar. After attaching the tracker, you connect it to your Bluetooth device which then syncs to your smartphone. On the application, you provide information on your dog including their lifestyle. Here, you are provided with a set of five measures ranging from active to very lazy.Compared to other trackers in the market, PoochPlay requires a more detailed background of your pet. They require more than just the pet’s age, weight, and breed. You have to provide information on their training level, their deworming and vaccination dates and the microchip number. Additionally, the application prompts you to look at the dog’s body condition and provide the score. This requires you to examine the shape of your dog from the top and the side.PoochPlay is particularly attractive to individuals who have just adopted their first dog. It provides you with recommendations for food intake and information on the range of available dog food brands. It also provides you with a suggested timetable of activities ensuring your dog gets the mental and physical stimulation they require.
Notably, the developers have made it possible to monitor all aspects of your dog’s health and safety. They have added a calendar into the app to provide you with regular reminders for vet checks.One downside of the PoochPlay is that it fails to attach as securely to the harness. Most users are therefore required to purchase a secure band just to keep it in place. Additionally, it does not come with a GPS tracker and does not feature a detailed sleep tracker.
Featuring a bowtie design, the 20g WonderWoof presents dog owners with daily information on the dog’s activity. This is relayed to the smartphone via Bluetooth and provides you with real-time data on how the dog is doing on its daily activity targets.Developers have input a reminder feature where dog owners get alerts at feeding time, activity and medication times. Surprisingly, they have incorporated a grooming alert to have you brush your four-legged friend’s teeth.Exceptionally, WonderWoof is the most stylish of the pet fitness trackers available. The slick black bow-tie tracker enables dog owners to match their style to that of their dog and is often a conversation starter. The tracker is also available in aquamarine making it even more versatile.
The downside to this stylish tracker is that it lacks a GPS tracker and fails to perfectly attach to the collar. This makes it less suitable for dogs that avid diggers and love quick dashes.
- Kippy Vita
Kippy Vita is the most expensive of the bunch but offers some interesting features. Not only is the gadget an activity tracker but with a subscription fee of $4, you also get to harness the live GPS tracker feature.Dog owners get a daily fitness goal and if required, an activity and rest timetable. Additionally, the tracker features a ‘geo-fence” feature that helps dog owners create a virtual safe area for the dog to roam.The downsides to Kippy Vita tracker include:
- 3-4 days battery life
- 50g in weight
- Not waterproof
- Costly subscription fees
Taking care of your furry friend has never been easier. Wearable technology to monitor dogs’ wellness is taking the pet technology world by a storm. You are now able to track changes in your dog’s activity over a period which you would have otherwise missed. With as little as $20, you will be able to have that baseline data that could mean the difference between taking charge of your dog’s health or living in bliss. Take charge of your dog’s health and enjoy a healthy life together.
A fitness tracker opens a new dimension in to your fitness and exercise regime. Whilst the tracker is the tool the key to unlocking its full potential is you. You need to understand what it can do, how to use it to its maximum potential and constantly look for new and innovative ways to maximise its use.
Whether you have owned a fitness tracker before or are new to fitness tracking, you may be missing out if you haven’t taken the time how to learn how to optimize the performance of your tracker. While fitness trackers are designed to take much of the guesswork out of following your fitness habits, how smart you are about using them will still largely determine how well they will work for you. From technical knowledge to personal preferences, here is a list of things you can home in on to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitness tracker.
Start by making sure you buy the right tracker
It’s important not to take a “one size fits all” approach when shopping for a new fitness tracker. Fitness trackers come in many shapes and sizes, and it’s important to know which fitness tracker will work best for you and your fitness program.
First, you want to make sure your tracker is going to track the type of activity you perform the most. Do you mostly play sports? Do you strictly run or bike? Do you like to do a lot of cross-training and need something that is versatile and can track many activities? Whatever your activity of choice, there is likely a specific tracker out there that is uniquely geared towards it.
Also, it’s a good idea to ask yourself what features you want to have built in to your tracker. Aside from just counting steps and estimating calorie burn, many modern trackers have lots of extra features. Do you want to monitor your sleep cycles? Are you interested in heart rate monitoring? Do you want to be able to map your runs and get a full breakdown of your pace analysis? Taking the time to consider which aspects of tracking are or aren’t important to you will ensure that you are getting the fitness tracker with the features you want (and not paying extra for ones that you don’t really care about).
Make sure you are getting a tracker that you have the capability to make full use of its features. If you don’t have a smartphone, you may want to research and choose a tracker that allows you to access all its features via desktop or laptop computer. There are even a few trackers that don’t require any kind of syncing to another electronic device. Knowing how you will need to access your tracker’s features beforehand will prevent you from being stuck with something you can’t fully use.
Lastly, make sure that you are getting a fitness tracker that suits you aesthetically and ergonomically. You will be much more likely to wear it regularly if you enjoy the way it looks and are comfortable with wearing it most of the time.
Get to know how your tracker works
Many modern fitness trackers are designed to be user friendly and simple to understand, but it’s still a good idea to take the time to get to know the ins and outs of how your tracker works. Otherwise, you could easily mis-use or miss out completely on some of the features. Make sure to at least browse the user manual when you first purchase your watch.
Find out what all the physical features are, such as what buttons perform which functions and what all the available displays are. Some trackers automatically detect when you are engaging in a fitness activity while others require you to hit a start button for activity tracking. Don’t wait until you’re about to start exercising to try and figure out how to access the screen display you want and how to select your activity; a little research beforehand will go a long way to ensure that you know how to get to what you need when you need it (and avoid a lot of potential frustration).
It’s also crucial to figure out what methods your tracker uses to monitor your activity. Some trackers calculate activity levels by heart rate; others are GPS driven and track by speed and distance. Still others track by monitoring movement. Knowing the details of how your activity will be tracked will allow you to adjust your use of your tracker to maximize the accuracy you are getting from it.For instance, if your tracker uses movement to determine activity, it’s best to ensure you are placing it on your non-dominant wrist rather than your dominant one, since your dominant hand will naturally move more with use throughout the day and which could skew your workout data.
Use the software and apps that go along with your fitness tracker
Most fitness trackers have a specified app or software that must be downloaded in order to sync with a computer or smartphone. While you could probably use your tracker without the accompanying software or apps, using them will give you access to maximum tracking benefits.
While your fitness tracker can only hold so many days’ worth of data, most software or apps allow you to store and track data from the entire life of your fitness tracker, giving you access to valuable insight and analysis of your fitness history. Viewing trends in your activities, heart rate, sleep patterns, and/or food habits can tell you where your biggest weakness are and clue you in to where you need to tweak your program.
Most computer software and smartphone applications specific to fitness trackers have lots of options for viewing and analyzing your data, setting your specifications, and engaging with the fitness tracker community. Take the time to learn how to read your data and find out what extra features are available to you. You may be surprised to find that you have virtual trainers, free workout demos, healthy recipes, and how-to videos all in your fitness tracker app.
Personalize your experience
Make sure to calibrate your fitness tracker when you first get it. Most trackers will have default settings and allow you to start tracking without entering any information, but for tracking accuracy, you’ll want to make sure your personal data is entered. Basic information such as gender, weight, and age will give you much more precise readings. Many trackers will also give you the option to enter more advanced personal data, such as stride length and personal target heart rate zone. The more you customize your tracker, the more accurate your tracking data will be.
Many fitness tracker software and apps have options for fitness tests as well as virtual training and workout programs. Consider kicking off your use of your fitness tracker with a fitness test. Doing so will give you a good gauge of where you currently are in relation to your goals and a jumping off point to create a training routine if you don’t already have one.
Pay attention to notification features. Most trackers have options for reminders throughout the day to keep you on track with activity, food tracking, or even relaxation. Customizing your notifications to your own goals and needs will help to keep you on track.
Make sure to provide updates to your progress and goals on a regular basis. Doing so ensures that you will always get the most accurate data from your tracking and provides an extra layer of accountability by making sure that you are setting new goals according to your changing fitness levels. Also, regularly updating your information will allow you to see your progress over time, which can be helpful in setting realistic, achievable goals for the future.
Wear your tracker consistently
Your tracker can only track data if you are wearing it. Therefore, it’s crucial that you only remove it when necessary and that you remember to put it back on when you do take it off (which you will need to do at some point). Even if your intention is to wear your tracker non-stop, there are many reasons you may need to remove it at times. For instance, some fitness trackers are not waterproof and need to be removed during showering and for swimming.
If sleep tracking is not something that is important to you or you are uncomfortable wearing your tracker to bed, you might want to take it off at night. Also, unless you have a tracker with a cell battery as a long-term power source, you will need to take your fitness tracker off regularly to recharge it; most trackers will go about five days before needing a recharge.
Come up with a routine for the times when you need to take your tracker off; keep it in a place where you will be reminded to put it back on or set a reminder for yourself with an alarm or phone.
It’s a good idea to come up with a charging schedule for your tracker as well. Finding out that your battery is about to run out right before a workout (or worse, during a workout) can be a motivation killer. Figure out how long your fitness tracker can go before it needs a charge, and then choose days and times when tracking will be less important to recharge it. For instance, if you know your charger needs to be charged twice a week, pick days when you tend to be less active and schedule to recharge during times you will be sitting still for a while.
Become a joiner
Most fitness tracker apps and software come with a host of useful tools aside from just fitness tracking. They offer you access to an entire fitness community, complete with ways to connect with other likeminded individuals as well as tips on workouts and healthy eating.
Many trackers offer access to challenges. Joining challenges can be a great way to get motivated to stay active. Competing virtually against other individuals provides great incentive for a lot of people, and so can striving to complete a challenge to earn a trophy or reward.
A lot of trackers also offer forums where you can connect with other people for advice about fitness, diet, and fitness tracker use, as well as encouragement and support for sticking to your fitness regimen. Become engaged with the community; not only will you find lots of information and inspiration there, you may also find that a sense of accountability to the people you have connected with will keep you on track in striving towards your fitness goals.
If using a computer or smartphone to sync your fitness tracker data, consider looking at some other software or apps that could be used as companions to the primary software or apps. A lot of apps will connect with and pull data from your primary app so that you don’t have to enter information in twice. For instance, if you have a fitness tracker that maps run distance or food tracking, but you want something that gives you more options than your current software does, you can download a food tracking app or run mapping software that will feed into your tracker software so that you can have all the information you want in one place.
Connect with other apps and software
Get curious about other tracking apps that are available; many apps and software will connect with your fitness tracker’s apps and software so that you don’t have to enter your data into multiple locations. For instance, if you don’t feel like your fitness tracker app’s food tracker gives you enough detailed information, you can choose from a host of other food tracking apps and keep your food tracking there while still automatically maintaining that information in your original app/software as well.
Some apps can enhance the functions of your fitness tracker.
For example, you can connect your phone GPS to your fitness tracker to improve accuracy in distance, speed, and stride length.
There are also some apps out there that are designed to link two other apps together in a conditional relationship; these apps generally require a little bit of technical know-how, but they can be very useful if there are things that you want automated along with your tracking or if you want two apps to feed into each other but there is currently no option for syncing between them. For instance, you could set up your facebook page to send an update every time you go for a run.
Have fun with it
Having a fitness tracker along for your fitness journey can really enhance the experience of living healthier. You can turn your fitness journey into a game by setting small, obtainable goals and reaching them. Then, set a new goal a little bit higher than the last. Many trackers and apps have built-in rewards or congratulations when you reach certain goals or milestones.
See how you can score the most points daily on your tracker. Many trackers allow you to set a step goal to make sure you are meeting a certain level of activity per day. This gives you incentive to make small but significant changes that enhance your fitness routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little further from your workplace, or squeezing in an extra block when you are out walking the dog. Knowing that the small things are being counted towards a goal can help you to enjoy looking for little ways to be more active.
Try new things; as mentioned before, a lot of fitness trackers come with access to a variety of workout programs, tips, and extra features. Take advantage of the variety of activities you can get involved in and information you can use. At worst, you might find out what you don’t like. At best, you may find your new favorite addition to your fitness routine.
Understand the limitations of your fitness tracker
As much as you may come to rely on your fitness tracker to keep you informed on your fitness program, keep in mind that fitness trackers are not perfect and understand where there may be inaccuracies.
While it is certainly gratifying to see the number of calories you burned in any given exercise, it’s important to keep in mind that calculating calorie burn is not an exact science, and even though most fitness trackers use specific algorithms in their calculations, these usually don’t take into account things like body type, fitness level, or just individual variations. This is part of the reason it is so important to input your personal data; however, even with that personal data, for most fitness trackers the calorie burn is an educated guess, at best. At worst, it can be way off. It’s far more useful to pay attention to time or distance, as these things are easily quantifiable and do not rely on so many variables for accuracy.
Part of understanding how your tracker monitors your activity is understanding where there may be gaps in that monitoring. As an example, if you own a tracker that monitors your activity via movement and you are wearing it on your wrist, all those steps you took at the grocery store while pushing a shopping cart may not have been recorded since your arm was not moving. Having this kind of knowledge may not always rescue you from losing data, but it should at least give you the awareness to be able to minimize these kinds of monitoring pitfalls.
Having a fitness tracker can be an invaluable tool towards reaching your fitness goals, but by itself it is only a tool. Being smart about how you use your fitness tracker will ensure that it is reaching its full potential to enhance your fitness journey.
A checklist for your fitness tracker:
- Set it up correctly
- Ensure it is calibrated
- Configure any settings such as dominant arm, weight and height so they are correct for you
- Wear in the correct position for maximum accuracy
- Understand how the tracker should be configured for various activities
- Keep it clean
If you’re wearing your tracker all the time sweat can build up behind the straps and cause skin irritations and rashes. Make sure you regularly take it off to give your skin a chance to breathe and also clean the strap and tracker itself
- Look through the manual and understand the functionality
- Familiarize yourself with the physical features and displays.
- Familiarize yourself with the tracking features.
- Learn what methods your tracker uses to track your activity (GPS, steps, heartrate)
- Get to know the apps
Know what apps and/or software your fitness tracker uses for syncing and download those to your smartphone and/or your home computer.
- Personalize your smartphone.
- Calibrate your smartphone to you individually.
- If there’s a built-in fitness test available on your app, try it.
- Regularly update your progress and goals
- Wear your tracker consistently
- Set reminders
If you take your tracker off you might forget to put it back on and lose the benefits. Maybe set a reminder using the voice assistant on your mobile so that you don’t forget to put it back on.
- Come up with a charging schedule that is convenient for you and at a time when you are not active.
- Get engaged
- Try joining a challenge in your fitness community.
- Find one or more health and fitness forums in your app that interest you and participate in them.
- If available, try some of the fitness videos or workouts offered in your app.
- Research and experiment with supplementary apps or software.
- Make it fun
- Try to earn trophies or awards in your apps.
- Make a game out of seeing how much fitness you can squeeze into your day by tracking steps
- Try different activities that your tracker monitors.
- Understand your tracker’s limits
- Don’t place too much faith in tracking burned calories
- Know where there may be pitfalls in tracking continuity and accuracy
If you’re thinking about buying a new fitness tracker you’re probably wondering if they can be used without a smartphone. We’ve been doing some digging to find out whether a smartphone is necessary to get the best from a fitness tracker.
Can you use a fitness tracker without a smartphone? Yes. For the most part key data points for a fitness tracker are measured by electronics like accelerometers on the device itself. This means that for lots of fitness trackers key basic information such as the number of steps taken can be shown using an onboard visual display, like a series of lights or a metric on the screen without the need for a phone.
As we now know smartphones aren’t necessary but that doesn’t mean that it is the right choice. There’s a lot to consider as to whether a fitness tracker is better with a phone or without. In the remainder of this article we will delve into this a bit deeper.
Using a fitness tracker without a smartphone
Maybe you have kids and don’t want to have to buy them a mobile phone as well. Or you are looking for a gift for your parents or grandparents who are not technically minded or your somebody who wants to pick up your tracker and just get going.
Whatever the reason there is still plenty of scope to track your fitness using a fitness tracker without a phone. We’ve listed some of the options available below:-
Using your computer
Although a lot of fitness trackers are designed to work optimally with smartphones they do offer alternative methods to sync with the tracking software. A lot of Fitbits for example come with a USB charger or dongle which can then be plugged into a compatible PC. Either through the use of specific software that you can download such as Fitbit Connect or bluetooth the relevant data from the device is then uploaded to track longer term trends and more data than can be displayed on the device.
Generally, this works quite well but unfortunately sometimes you do require a phone to set up the initial user account. A lot of people get round this problem by asking a friend or family member to get over this hurdle. Once the account is setup you should able to continue your tracker without your mobile phone and take advantage of the basic features.
Before the advent of the more technological fitness trackers a lot of people used to use a device that clipped on to your waist known as a pedometer. There is a lot of variety but they generally store around 7 days of data directly on the device. Typically they show you how many steps you’ve taken on a screen and don’t really have any requirements to set-up accounts or sync with your phone or the Internet.
In the same vain as above you may also decide to go old school. You could simply record all of your daily exercise in a simple book. This would negate the need for any type of technological input and at the basic level you will still be able to track improvements over time
Downsides of not using smartphone
Because smart phones are so ubiquitous manufacturers have been putting major effort into closely integrating their trackers and phones. This means all the latest and greatest functionality ends up being available on your phone and accessible via companion apps. We’ve listed some examples here
- History tracking: a lot of devices can only store 1-7 days of history on-board by syncing to your phone and ultimately the internet you can track over longer periods of time
- Sleep tracking data
- Ability to receive smart notifications showing text messages, what’s app and incoming phone calls
- Ability to control music
- Not all data is exposed on the device the phone app gives you access to more of this data
- The ability to input additional data such as food and drink intake and exercise that might not be easily tracked
Are there any fitness trackers that don’t use Bluetooth? They do exist but there isn’t a wide range available. One example is the Willful tracker available on Amazon. It operates as a simple pedometer does not require a phone or an app. However, due to its low price the amount of functionality is fairly limited.
If you’re anything like me you probably can’t walk past a watch shop window without looking longingly at the immaculate time pieces in the window. There is something about their elegant, simplistic look which makes them timeless (no pun intended) and they work so well when worn with your every day work wear or when going out on the town.
Of course, times move on and people now have different priorities and want their watch to provide alarms, notifications and fitness tracking. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a fitness tracker that looked like a watch? Unsurprisingly manufacturers have now caught on to this trend and are starting to produce what are known as hybrid smartwatches. They combine the classic look of a classic analog watch and pair it with bluetooth connected smart watch technology that tracks your daily activity.
The idea is that you should not be able to tell that your device is a fitness tracker. It should give you access to all the latest technology whilst still looking like a traditional analogue watch. There are different ways of achieving this goal including providing discreet screens as part of the watch face or via an app. You have to decide if you would be more comfortable with an all out smart watch or happy to make the compromise between style and technology in a hybrid smartwatch. If it is the latter we have compiled a list of
Fitness trackers that look like watches
1. Garmin vívomove HR
The Garmin vívomove HR is a stylish hybrid watch. It comes with a touch screen but when not in use all you can see is the traditional hands so it looks like your average watch. The touch screen is used to show you messages and text. The hands are displayed all the time and they are set at the right time via the app. If you do need to read some text they helpfully move out of the way. Although some people report that they do struggle to see the screen in certain light due to reflections With the hands and the screen you are typically looking at around a week of battery life before a charge is needed.
As you would expect with a Garmin watch the fitness tracking capabilities are good. Unusually for a hybrid watch it has V02 Max to monitor your stress level. In addition you get notification support, a heart rate monitor, silent alarms, auto activity tracking and the ability to take it swimming
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2. Nokia Steel HR
Not as fully featured as a smart watch the Steel HR is great at what it does. It couples good lucks with good fitness tracking credentials. It tries to do a limited amount and do it well and keeps the functionality tight. You have the ability to monitor heart rate, sleep, calories burnt, steps and calorie burn. The small dial will show you percentage completion to your daily step target In addition you get something known as a smart wake up alarm. The idea being it wakes you up at an optimal time whilst you are in your lightest sleep based on its tracking data. It comes with a very easy read to display, decent battery life and a good app in the shape of Nokia Health Mate which will also allow you to hook up some Nokia Body+ scales. The strap it comes with out of the box probably isn’t too everyone’s taste and can be changed to a more classical magnetic steel one. The other notable downside is the lack of customisation possible to the alarms.
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3. Kate Spade New York Holland Hybrid Smartwatch
Available in numerous watch faces the stylish and good looking New York Holland may look like a watch but is a fitness tracker in disguise. Powered by a CR2142 battery the lack of screen helps to provide 6 months of life before it needs changing. It can track sleep, steps and countdown events with the 0 to 100 scale at the top of the watch face showing progress towards your step target. It lacks a heart rate monitor and is water resistant to 30 metres.
To work at its best you will need to use the watch with the app and that is thought to be confusing but also enables you to hook your watch up to other useful functionality such as the ability to take pictures and control music playback on your phone.
Check the latest price for the New York Holland at Amazon.
4. Withings Activité Pop
Although a bit older than some of the trackers here the Activité Pop is still just about holding its own at the cheaper end of the scale for hybrid smart watches. It is the type of tracker that works with activity throughout the day and not steps. There is a small dial in the bottom right hand corner shows how much you have completed of your daily goal.
The data that feeds this dial is also sent to your phone via a typical sync process. Within the app you can then configure things further. Lacking features like a backlight, multiple alarms and the date on the watch display you will also miss out on some of the functionality available in future trackers.
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5. Timex IQ+ Move
The IQ+ Move has a traditional looking watch face and comes with the ability to change the straps to suit your taste. Lurking behind the analogue design however is a fitness tracker. It will monitor steps, calories burned, distance and sleep metrics such as time awake and deep and light sleep phases.. Water resistant to 50 metres a traditional watch battery provides long battery life should last a few months before needing replacing. The face itself has a secondary dial in the bottom right which shows your progress towards your daily activity goal. This will only get you so far. More advanced features are provided by a Bluetooth connection to the Timex Connected App (works on IOS and Android) which also set the time and date on the watch. As apps go the reputation isn’t great and general reviews seem to state it is prone to error. However, you might get more accurate step tracking by hooking the watch to your phones GPS to increase the accuracy of distance tracking.
The main method of interacting with the watch is by using the 3 buttons on the right hand side of the watch face. The middle button enables the Indiglo feature which illuminates the dial so you can read it in the dark for approximately 5 seconds. If held for longer it also initiates synching from the watch to the app. The other buttons depend on settings in the app but the general premise is they make the hands of the watch move to show the date or the time in another time zone or number of steps taken.
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6. MyKronoz ZeTime
The ZeTime began life as a Kickstarter project and takes a different tack to other watches here by providing a touch screen and overlaying mechanical hands above it. So maybe you get the best of both worlds. You pay the price for this wizardry with a shorter battery life of around 3-5 days for the screen and 30 days for the hands. In keeping with doing things slightly differently this watch also shuns common operating systems and uses its own which probably shows in some of its implementations of common features. However, it seems that every software update is moving it ever closer to where it needs to be. If you’re wondering what happens to the hand if you get a message they cleverly move out of the way which is quite neat.
It is stylish and people are bound to comment on its good looks. The good stuff is that you can get notifications from your favourite apps, it is has a heart rate monitor, sleep tracker and pedometer and you don’t have to wait for the screen to come on every time you lift your wrist due to the mechanical hands. The bad stuff is the custom OS not having had the issues ironed out just yet including how hard it is to get it to play music.
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7. Skagen Jorn Hybrid
Skagen have quite a selection fo hybrid smart watches on their books. The good looking Skagen Jorn Hybrid has quite a slim design and when you look at it you wouldn’t think it had any technological features.This is a testament to the design. This watch comes with all your classic fitness tracking features of activity (steps walked, distance travelled, calories burned) and goal tracking which are then synced back to the app. Other smart watch type features are the ability to control your phone’s music and camera and notification alerts from your apps. Notifications work by configuring the app to set each person or apps as a specific indicator or hour on the watch face. As soon as you receive a notification the indicator you will feel a vibration and the indicator will move to the correct person for you to work out where it came from. Not to everyone’s tase and can be a little confusing. This is compounded by the fact that the numbers on the clock face are quite small and hard to read. Some other downsides are that there is no heart rate monitoring, the vibrating alerts are too weak and there is no timer or stopwatch functionality.
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8. Misfit Command
In common with most watches here the Command lets you set up vibration alerts for calls, texts and app notifications. You configure these in the Link App and the watch will then point to the relevant icon in the sub dial. You also have the ability to perform other smart actions such as controlling the camera or music on your phone or find your phone by ringing it. The watch itself is water resistant to 50 metres and can be used in conjunction with the lap counting upgrade from Speedo which can track how far you swam in both 25 and 50 metre pool. The battery lasts around one year and you can track steps, distance, calories and sleep metrics.
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Fossil have lots of choice in this area and if you visit their website you will be able to see for yourself. That being said if you want some guidance our favourite would be the Fossil Q commuter watch. In common with lots of these watches numbers are quite small to read which may cause a few issues as an actual watch It admittedly looks great and you can control functions on your phone through the 3 buttons on the side. With this watch everything has to be done in the app including setting the alarms and also configuring how notifications work.
Hybrid smart watches are a relatively new category of fitness tracker. As such, some ideas are still finding their feet in how to implement them as well as the current innovative solutions. In our view, a hybrid smart watch would suit somebody who loves traditional watches but still wants to have a good idea of their daily activity.
Have you ever been curious about how much your kids move around during the day or have they seen your tracker and want one themselves?
It turns out there are fitness trackers specifically aimed at children. Like adult fitness trackers they use accelerometers to measure activity throughout the day. This is then linked with fun activities like virtual pets or games or family challenges. The general idea being the more active you are the more levels of the game or adventure you unlock.
Most children will easily get enough exercise in the course of their everyday life playing with their friends, walking to school and just generally running around. However, let’s not forget that we live in the technological age and it can be quite easy for children to spend more time sat in front of their tablet than being active. I know there is a certain irony in recommending another technology to address this problem. However, I think it is easy to get caught up in everyday life and not realise that the kids have spent more time sat down than being active. This is where the children’s fitness tracker can be useful.
Why get a fitness tracker for kids?
According to numerous health organisations such as the NHS and WHO it is recommended that children (5 – 17 years old) get at least an hour of vigorous activity per day. Ideally more. Research suggest that doing more also has added health benefits. The problem is how do you track whether this is happening. There is no easy answer. You might be able to purchase an adult fitness tracker but in general they are too big for your wrist and also much more detail than is necessary when you are young.
Purchasing a child friendly fitness tracker will give you all you need to know. Or, at least give you a baseline from which to start. The aim of the game is to see how close to that 1 hour mark your child is getting. It may be the case they are already above it or you may have suspicions they are below whichever way round the data will be invaluable.
The main goal is to make sure that your children have a positive attitude to their fitness and know that staying active is a lifelong pursuit with amazing benefits to their body, mind and soul.Most trackers will also encourage an educational element such as learning the time or encouraging good behaviour by giving rewards.
When thinking about getting a fitness tracker for a child it is really important to think about the affects on their well being and introduce it in a positive way. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the numbers and create an obsession with step counting and calories. Children need to be children and not worry about such things. Our recommendation would be to be very clear about the use of the tracker and try and measure activities that are already happening. If you feel like your child isn’t getting enough exercise you can use the data from the tracker and maybe organise a fun activity for the weekend like a walk in the countryside or an active visit to the park. It’s all about encouraging that lifelong good relationship with fitness
Fitness trackers for kids
Designed from the ground up to be a Fitbit for children the Ace is the only Fitbit device that can be used with a Fitbit child account (for 8 year olds and over). As you would expect being designed for kid means that the strap is a little bit smaller and should fit securely around the wrist. The unit itself is showerproof so not suitable for swimming. Check out the Garmin Vivofit JR2 below for that. It is available in 2 colors of purple and blue. An OLED screen displays the stats. You can choose from 10 clock faces which can be configured horizontally or vertically. It is fair to say that the Ace tries to stay true to the rest of the Fitbit family without any gamification. This means you can get reminder to move every hour to do 250 steps (this can be turned off) and a firework celebration when you reach your 10,000 step target. The other thing to note is that the Ace does not have any calorie tracking abilities as Fitbit feel this encourages the wrong mindset and its goal is purely about staying active.
The benefit of the Ace is that it gives you access to the Fitbit app. This allows you to set up a family account where you can set up challenges and also the ability for you and the child to view their progress and habits whilst using the tracker. If you feel the Ace is a little too simplified for your child maybe consider the Fitbit Zip or Fitbit Flex 2 which may be more appropriate.
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Garmin Vivofit JR2 (our recommendation)
Garmin decided to take a different tack to Fitbit with the Vivofit JR 2. Instead of a scaled down version of the adult track they went for trackers that are themed around characters from Disney and Marvel. You can choose from Captain America, Star Wars and the Avengers amongst others. For this reason it is likely to appeal to a slightly younger age range. Each one is linked to a game in the app. By meeting your 60 minute activity target you will then gain moves in the game which is the prim
As well as being a tracker the display will show time and date so can easily be used as a watch. Other things of note on the display are total number of active minutes, steps taken and the move bar. The move bar shows up if a child has been inactive for more than 1 hour and adds segments for every 15 minutes after that. The only way to get rid of it is to get up and move.
Ready equipped with a replaceable battery that last 365 days the Garmin is waterproof and can be used for swimming without issue. Although it is important to note it will not track swimming as activity for your daily totals. It comes with 2 different types of silicon bands, stretchy for 4-7 year olds and adjustable which are designed to be used by kids over 6 years old.
You need to download a parent app to your tablet / phone where you are able to control the configuration. You can do some neat stuff such as setting up ‘chores’. The chores then show up as icons on the device and the child who can earn virtual coins for completing them. Typical examples are brushing your teeth or cleating up your toys. The app allows you to see how many steps and how much sleep your child has been getting and set up family challenges.
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The LeapBand follows the same pattern as other trackers by linking activity to challenges. This time it is a customisable pet which is brought to life using animated graphics and audio. Available in blue, orange, pink or green each device comes with a choice of eight pets (cat, dog, dragon, monkey, panda, penguin, robot and unicorn). The main idea being that being active by jumping or running earns credit which you then get to spend on your pet. The more active you are the more points you get and the more you can do with your pet. An activity bar on the tracker gives you an indication of how well you are doing
If your child isn’t able to read yet the device also has the ability to provide audio instructions so they don’t miss out. In keeping with this the LeapBand is designed so that the controls are easy to work out and use. Rechargeable battery, water resistant. Carrying on the pet theme there is the possibility of using your credits in the companion Petathlon Games which can give some more scope to the challenges originally included.
From a parent’s point of view it is possible to customise the LeapBand by addiing additional challenges to the ones that come pre-loaded. You can also set it so that the tracker goes into School Mode which disabled all games and Pet Play but continues to track activity and work like a watch.
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Unicef Kid Power Band
Instead of racking up points for games the Kid Power Band takes an altogether different approach. Being active, not only helps the child wearing the app but also other children too. A very noble cause! The way it works is that activity such as running,, jumping and walking gets relayed back to the companion app as points. In simple terms, 1 point is equivalent to 2400 steps. The goal is to get 5 points in a day or in other words 12000 steps. Once 25 points have been reached it is converted into a therapeutic food pack which UNICEF then deliver to malnourished in need children around the world
Although maybe not as sophisticated as some of the other tracker it does all the things you would want including step counts. There is also some extra motivation through completing special missions which give you access to videos giving more detail about how the food packets are being used. A great idea!
Pet Play but continues to track activity and work like a watch.
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Smartwatches for kids
Moving out of the realm of fitness trackers there are increasing numbers of smartwatches for kids becoming available too. One example is the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX 2. This offers the ability to take photos and videos and add effects. Its TimeMaster application is a great way of getting kids to learn the time and you can download watch faces and other apps from the Learning Lodge. It is more a multimedia entertainment centre. It also features a pedometer which will allow you to track your steps throughout the day. So maybe you can compare against each other.
Whilst out for a walk the other day I got in a conversation with a few friends about fitness trackers. It turned out they were quite keen on getting one but due to work reasons were not able to wear one on their wrist. So naturally, we moved on to trying to find alternative solutions. The first thing that came to mind was can you wear a fitness tracker on your ankle?
I didn’t know the answer at the time but I decided to look into it and write up my findings.
Most fitness trackers are designed to be used on your wrist. Software and algorithms that calculate metrics are all based on the tracker being worn on the wrist. If you wear the tracker on your ankle you run the risk that metrics may not be as accurate.
Many people are happy to live with the issues and wear the tracker on their ankle to get a feel of how many steps they have done. If not, there are alternatives available which will still allow you to use and benefit from a fitness tracker but not wear it on your wrist.
Wearing a fitness tracker on your ankle
There is no reason you cannot wear a fitness tracker on your ankle. However, fitness trackers generally work by interpreting the data from 3-axis accelerometers and matching the data from a known set of patterns to calculate steps. For most fitness tracker manufacturers including Fitbit the known set of patterns are derived from when the tracker is worn on the wrist. If you wear it on your ankle they might not be able to identify the activity as easily and accurately.
That being said there are certain circumstances where your arm doesn’t move that much and you might not get the credit you deserve for steps. An example of this is when you’re pushing a shopping trolley or pram. The pram scenario is quite command and people often move their tracker to their ankle The theory is that your legs are still moving the accelerometer will detect and the steps will be recorded.
It seems that this is broadly true and that a tracker worn on the ankle will give you a reasonably accurate representation of how many steps you have done. The downsides are as follows:-
- generally not recommended by the manufacturers
- you will lose out on some of the other metrics such as heart rate and calories burned.
- sleep tracking will not work as well because we move our legs a lot at night
- if the device has a screen you will not be able to see any of the data
If you do want to start wearing a tracker on your ankle I would only advise it if you are only interested in your daily step count. Even then there is still a strong possibility that the readings will only be reasonably accurate. I would suggest if you are going to move to your ankle you need to make sure that you are happy with the step count accuracy of your device. One quick way you could do this is by placing your tracker around your ankle and doing a walk where you count the number of steps. Once compete have a look at the data from your tracker and compare it to your count. If you’re happy you’re good to go.
How to wear a fitness tracker around your ankle
If you are lucky you may be able to strap your tracker directly around your ankle with the same strap as your wrist. It’s more likely that it won’t fit and you’ll need some method to keep it secure and make sure you don’t lose it. The answer is what is known as a band extender or ankle band, a number of which are available on both Etsy(click here to view) and Amazon(click here to view).
Alternatives to wrist worn trackers
As we have already seen the majority of fitness trackers have been designed to go around your wrist, however not all. Both Fitbit and a company called Moov make trackers which can be worn in alternative places which is ideal for people who don’t like wearing things on their wrist or can’t for work reasons.
The Moov Now is more of a personal trainer than a tracker so it has a concept of active minutes rather than steps. It comes with 2 straps. One for round your wrist and another longer one which is designed to go around your ankle. The main purpose of the ankle strap is to track indoor cycling, running and walking. It will also continue to track your daily activity. When running there is some pretty neat functionality that will coach you around improving your running style all bought about due to them fact that the tracker is attached to your ankle.
Non wrist worn Fitbits
Not willing to miss out Fitbit also have a tracker that does not need to be worn on the wrist in the shape of the Fitbit Zip. Unfortunately, they don’t quite meet the requirement of being worn around the ankle but will suit anybody who is unable to wear a wrist based tracker. Now that the Fitbit app allows you associate more than one device to an account you may even decide to wear one of these during the day and a wrist based tracker when you go home.
If you are interested in these types of tracker we have written a bit more about the best clip on fitness trackers here