Fitness Trackers

April 5th, 2014 | By Lindsey Ebert No Comments

 

During a recent stroll through the park, my friend turned to me and said, “So, what all does your watch do?” Slightly put off by the question, I glanced down at my $15 Wal-Mart watch and chuckled. I’ve never owned a watch that did anything more than tell time and serve as a stopwatch. I have always considered any other features to be flashy and unnecessary. However, as the technology in fitness trackers become more advanced, I couldn’t help but think it may be worth the investment.

Fitness trackers are commonly styled as sleek wristbands. Some of the most popular fitness tracking devices include the Fitbit Flex, the Nike+ Fuelband SE, and the Jawbone UP24. While they all serve a similar purpose and have almost identical features, there are pros and cons attributed to each device.

FitbitForceActivityBand

Fitbit Flex- $99.95

After recalling the original Fitbit Fuel due to materials used in the wristband causing skin irritation, the Fitbit Flex was introduced. The water-proof Flex tracks steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and the quality of sleep you receive. These numbers are automatically plugged into your computer or iPhone app to create graphs and charts that monitor your activity levels. The Fitbit Flex also alerts you as you progress toward your goals. However, a review by Business Insider questions the accuracy of this device. According to the author’s experience, the pedometer was often incorrect and even counted steps during other activities such as bumpy car rides. Other reviews agree with the inaccuracy, but appreciate its variety of uses, simplicity and vibrating alarm feature.

fuelband-se

Nike+ Fuelband SE- $169

The Nike Fuelband tracks how often you move as well as the intensity. Like the Fitbit, it also tracks calories burned and sleep quality. What differentiates this device from others in the market are Nike ‘fuel points.’ Activities throughout the day earn you these fuel points and allow you to track progress as well as compete with friends. However, the same Business Insider review cited above mentions inaccuracies in the Fuelband. Like the Fitbit, the pedometer of the Fuelband can be highly inaccurate, often miscounting steps taken. However, the author approves of the Fuelband’s use of points to motivate a user to be more active throughout the day.

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Jawbone UP24- $150

The Jawbone UP, like its rival devices, connects to your Smartphone using Bluetooth to constantly update the associated app with the number of calories burned, steps taken, pace, hours slept, and more. It can also alert you when you have been inactive for a long period of time. Reviews of the Jawbone UP give the device a thumbs-up for its design and user-friendly smartphone app. The device gets a thumbs-down, however, for its inability to track bicycling workouts.

While these devices may not be precise on all accounts, they do provide an easy-to-use estimation of overall daily activity. The apps also make being active more fun by challenging yourself and others daily. However, when it comes to tracking steps taken during a run or walk, the inaccuracy of the pedometer may make these devices not worth the investment. You should do your own due diligence … see what products are on the market, how much they cost, what their features are, and how they’re reviewed by people who have actually used them. Then make your decision as an informed consumer!

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