From data collected to battery life, there’s a lot to consider before purchasing a fitness monitor

By Deidre Burkholder
It seems to be that the last trend in fitness is the merging of fitness and technology. Pedometers got us started a while back but as the smartphones came into our lives the pedometer had to go high tech as well. With in a few years a plethora of options were on the market. I dip my toe into two different devices and spoke to friends who had other devices. Here’s what our opinions on a few of the options out there.
I turned to Groupon hoping for a good deal on something nice and affordable. Several options laid before from the cheap Fitbit wannabe’s to higher end devices. The Jawbone Up24 caught my eye. A refurbished model that would track steps and sleep as well as various food and drink I consume throughout the day. At $30 it seemed like a nice entry level option.
A week after purchasing it arrived in the mail. Setup was quick and easy. It came with its own USB changing adapter that I can plug into my computer or phone wall charging port. Once charged, I downloaded the free app and connected the wristband to my phone via bluetooth. After that it was time to set some goals, 3 goals to be exact. Move, sleep and weight. While many people are being told that they should get 10,000 steps in a day, I decided not jump on that band wagon and settled for 8,000 steps a day. Sleep however, I thought, 8 hours still sounded good and well a lady never discuss her weight.
As directed, I wore the band on my non dominate wrist and I wore it continually, except in water. The band is not recommended for full submersion into water. Wash your hands and get splashed but do not bath or swim with it. The band is semi flexible so putting it on doesn’t take a lot of effort and took only maybe a day or two to get used to having on my wrist. Along with tracking my steps through the day, it also tracked my sleep, as long as I did not remove the Jawbone from my wrist. This was interesting to me as I’m not 100 percent sure what type of Harry Potter magic is involved, but every morning I got a sleep log review that showed a variety of sleep facts: It took me 29 minutes to fall asleep last night. Of the 6 hours and 56 minutes I was in bed, 3:17 minutes were a sound sleep while the rest was light sleep. After 7 days I can see a trend of what my sleep patterns are like.
Of course the idea for me having this partly was to be moving more. The built in health coach chimes in facts and tidbits and reminds me that I just need 347 more steps to beat my daily average for the last 7 days. The band provides a gentle buzz after I’ve been sedentary for 90 minutes. The battery life was one of the things I liked the most as on average a full charge would last anywhere from 12-14 days. For a device that is on me collecting data nearly 24/7, I think that is outstanding.
Now the particular mode I bought has been discontinued but the link in the article shows you the current Jawbone line up.  I was fairly happy with it overall.
FitBit – Fitbit has been around for several years now and continues to be one of the leaders in activity tracking. Two friends of mine wear their Fitbits daily. Courtney who recent upgrade from the Fitbit Flex to the Fitbit Alta is very happy with the features even though it lacks a heart rate monitor. While it is heavier than her old Fitbit Flex, it was easy to adjust to and she found that the step tracking is very accurate. Her Alta will giver her a gentle reminder to move when she’s moved less than 250 steps in a hour. The battery life is about a week and charges over night, just like you. 😉
While Courtney is looking at being overall healthy and losing a tiny, tiny amount of weight, my friend Nathan was hoping that his FitBit Surge would help him gain better movement tracking and sleep. A auto sensing sleep feature comes with most models. The Surge is one of the the top end models from Fitbit that also allow not just heart rate monitoring but also receive notifications from your phone such as phone calls and texts and it plays music.
A weekly summary is mailed to Fitbit owners so they may review their activity and make adjustments as they see fit.
Leaf Nature – One thing that seems to be a trend is that the majority or tracking devices have to be worn on your wrist and they are not that stylish. Enter Bellabeat and its fashion versatile Leaf. This device worn by my friend Amy can easily be worn on your wrist like many others on the market. However if you want to free the wrist you can wear it as a necklace or even make it a nice belt accessory. The companion app gives you many of the same useless data recordings. While it does lack heart monitoring it makes up for that on its battery. No charge needed. Leaf runs on an actual battery. Amy likes her leaf and recommends it highly especially if you’re looking “for something pretty.”
Apple Watch – My watch was a surprise Christmas gift, so I’m still getting used to it. In order to use an apple watch an iPhone is required. Setting the watch was surprisingly simple. Take your iPhone open the watch app and it will use the camera in your phone. Align the watch in the designated area on the phone’s screen and poof the two devices sync up to each other. The watch comes with 2 bands to fit a variety of wrist and are available in multiple styles and colors. Now I highly recommend trying the bands out before buying. My normally thought of small wrist end up more on the medium wrist scale for the watch.
The watch comes with many installed apps including a remote camera app, heart monitor and Activity. Activity is a monitoring system that comes setup with a basic guideline. Your goal is to get all 3 Activities to complete a ring. Your rings complete when the watch tracks 280 calorie Moves, 30 minutes of Exercise and 1 Stand up per hour for a total of 12 hours. I do enjoy the freedom from the phone that the watch provides. I can receive and send text messages, phone calls and email. I can add apps as well like a sleep tracking app, Night sky apps to enhance your night sky viewing options and yes Pokemon Go is also available.
The watch comes with a hand full of faces including the fun Mickie or Minnie Mouse classic face. While it was temping, I choose to make a custom watch face and a quick search on the internet opened my options. Since I have not had the the watch that long I have not really tested out all the features for fitness. I have found some neat insight’s on my heartrate. Appearently Benedict Cumberbatch does not be still my heart, but slightly increases it. Now the one truly downside I find is that battery life is no where near that of my Jawbone. In fact I’m averaging about 18-24 hours per charge. Usually I charge it a few hours before I go to bed so I can wear it to track my sleep.
Now hopefully you have a little more insight into what device might work best for you and your lifestyle. Just maybe a little wrist movement will help you to get moving forward this new year.