Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fitness Trackers and Apps

I'm looking at a few different fitness app and trackers.  I'm also looking at a couple pain tracker apps.  I keep saying I'm going to track my headaches, and migraines but never actually do.  The magic of me and my phone is I'll actually use apps on my phone. I have a list of 20 different apps I'm checking out, so it will be awhile before I've drawn any conclusions about them.  Quick note: when I wrote about the water app last week I got the name wrong. It's actually WATER YOUR BODY.  Really sorry about that.

Right now I'm shopping for a wearable tracker.  There are phone apps that will track some of the data I'm interested in - but most are for iPhone, and I'm never leaving Android, and most kill the battery pretty quickly (since battery life was a HUGE deciding factor when I got my phone - I can't live with having to recharge halfway through your day- this is also a consideration for apps as well)   There are a LOT of wearables on the market.  I didn't look at iOS only products, I also didn't look at products that weren't reviewed in what I consider "reputable review sites". The top three for me when I'm in the market for electronic devices are: PCMag.com (ironic since in computers I'm definitely a MAC girl) CNET.com and Wired.  There were a few devices that the only reviews I found were on Amazon, and other retailers, and I don't necessarily trust those reviews, so I eliminated them from the lineup.

I then had to consider what was important to me to track.  Steps are tracked by all of the ones I looked at, so I took that column off of my spreadsheet.  The battery life information I found on the web was also not very helpful, most of the batteries last 4-7 days with the GPS off, and 4-8 hours with the GPS on (the forerunner has a battery life of 5 weeks with the GPS off - but that means you're just wearing it as a watch) so if you just turn the GPS on when you are outside working out it seems it should last 2 or 3 days so I removed that column as well.

Heartrate tracking is probably at the top of my must have list, without the need to have a chest strap or secondary device. That eliminated the Charge, Forerunner, Vivosmart, and Nike+ Fuelband, but I left them on my spreadsheet in case you don't need that feature and wanted to see the rest. (the iFit got really bad reviews everywhere except retailer sites where it got 5 stars)   Being able to sync to my phone directly was also on the top of my list, the only one that doesn't is the forerunner which I already eliminated. Distance is more important to me than steps when I'm actually exercising (as opposed to just daily steps the rest of the time) because I don't run/walk/jog with the same stride lengths so trying to get distance from step counts would be tricky.  This also means that I want a device with GPS built in because while I can track distance on my phone - I don't probably won't want to deal with merging different apps/devices. 

Other features on my chart that are secondary on my must have lists, but interesting are pace ( I need to work on a steadier pace to help with my 5K times) elevation, text & call notifications from my phone (the ones with just caller id are pretty much in line with no notifications, because I rarely use my phone as a .. phone, most of my actual calls are if I'm ordering food- not often with my eating restrictions, talking to my mom - maybe 2-3 times a month or talking to the Angie 5-6 times a week.  So really it's the hundreds of texts a week I'd be interested in seeing) I don't care about being able to reply from the device (and frankly paying 150-200  more to do so is out of the question anyway) if it's that important I'll take out my phone or it can wait until I take out my phone. 

The sleep tracking capability is also intriguing.  I'm not sure I would use this, and depending on how long the device takes to charge - sleeping is when I would charge it.  So it's listed, only 3 don't have it.  It would probably be more helpful to Curt who has apnea  or to Carl who has sleep issues with caffeine and some other foods too late in the day.  Some track temperature as well that I really can't see how I personally would find useful so I left it off.  Waterproof as opposed to water resistant would probably be more handy to people who spend a lot of time in the ocean, or who swim at the gym (the thought of that grosses me out, I don't care how much chlorine is in there) or who are training for a triathalon (I'm not big on biking so that isn't me) I left the column in because some people may want to see. 

I made some notes in the last column about some features that interest me - they aren't a full list for each device by any means.  I like being able to track blood glucose to correlate to activity,  I have a myfitness pal that I haven't used recently - but plan on starting again - probably in March.  (since most of my food is stuff I make - I need some time to add in my most often used recipes - my breakfast wraps, refrigerator oatmeal etc- so I don't have to keep adding ingredients.  Sitting down and adding these when I can scan packages will keep my frustration levels down)  I'm looking into the Nudge app - which combines all different parameters (sleep, exercise, food, water, coffee, alcohol, smoking) to give you a score from 1-110.  It also has "clubs" and other social features I don't care about, so I'm not sure if this makes a difference to me or not. 

While I still need to go to an actual store and check the devices out - right now I'm leaning heavily toward the Fitbit Surge. While it is the priciest, it has all the features I care about, and that will fit my goals going forward not just right now.  In addition to working with MyFitness Pal and Nudge, it can track blood glucose on it's app, routes and allows for 7 customizable activities from the device - treadmill, eliptical and weights are three activities that I do indoors at the gym so that would make tracking them convenient.  Also yoga is a another that I really think I'm going to start again (it might take awhile - the Angie was 6 when I stopped going to yoga class) It is one of the bigger devices- but since I tend toward chunkier and men's watches anyway that isn't a drawback for me.

Here's my spreadsheet (hopefully the hotlinks will transfer over otherwise I'll add them on the bottom.)  After the chart are some links I found helpful when I started looking at these devices.  

I couldn't figure out how to get the chart over here with the links attached so they'll be listed after the other links.

Helpful Links:
How to Choose the Right Activity tracker
Best Fitness Trackers (this was from December before the Surge and the Charge HR came out)
Fitbit's Place in the Landscape

Device Review Links:
Fitbit Surge
Basis Peak
Mio Fuse
Fitbit Charge HR
Fitbit Charge
Garmin ForerunnerGarmin Vivosmart

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