Activity trackers – motivating you to get fit
Activity trackers (or health monitors) are a new innovation called ‘connected health’ and a great way to help you lose weight or simply increase or monitor your level of physical activity. Monitoring your level of activity can help to motivate you to take the stairs rather than the lift, walk the dog for 10 extra minutes per day or even walk to the shops rather than drive there. All in all, an activity tracker can make you more mindful of your current physical level, which is always a great start!
The most recent trackers are like a more advanced cousin of the pedometer as they can do a lot more than simply count the amount of steps you take in a day. Additionally, many can be synchronised with mobile applications or web accounts so that you can review your daily, weekly and yearly performance, as well as set yourself goals.
Choosing an activity monitor has a lot to do with your personal preference, your needs and your budget. Consider the following the points and compare activity monitors at the end of this guide and you should be monitoring your fitness in no time!
Choosing your activity tracker based on where you wear it
One of your first considerations should be where you will be comfortable wearing your activity monitor. Most are worn on the wrist in either the form of a bracelet or a watch however other options are available. The Sosche My Trek for example is worn on the forearm and uses a Bluetooth connection to communicate with the iPhone, while the Misfit Shine is an elegant magnetic device around the size of a 10 pence piece that can be clipped on your pocket, worn as a sort of brooch on your top or even on your bra if you don’t want anyone to see it.
Consider what features your activity tracker needs to have
Depending on your preferred physical activity, you may need different features on your activity monitor. While most are adapted for walking or jogging, not all are waterproof or suitable for swimming. An exception is the Jaybird Reign (available in the US in Spring), which may appeal to the triathlete market as it claims to know when you are swimming, walking, running, cycling or even sleeping.
Battery life varies significantly from one device to another. The average battery life can range from 5 hours to 4 months, however the Garmin Vivofit (available in Winter/Spring 2014) claims to go as high as having 1 years’ worth of battery.
We all know about the importance of a good night’s sleep, so some activity monitors now have the bonus of monitoring the level and quality of sleep you have each night. The Jawbone UP intelligently tracks hours slept, light vs deep sleep and waking moments, then proposes goals that you should aim for such as a 10:30pm bedtime. The Withings Aura Active Sleep System on the other hand is a bit different to an activity monitor and uses pressure-sensitive bedding to monitor your sleep and wake you up at the optimal moment when you will feel refreshed.
Compatible mobile apps
While most new activity monitors are able to connect to their own or second-party mobile applications, note that not all devices are compatible with all operating systems. For example the Fuelband is only compatible with Apple’s iOS, so this will not be good news for Android or Windows users! You should check which operating systems each application is compatible with before buying the device.
Find the right activity tracker for you
Use our infographic below to find our which activity tracker is most adapted to your lifestyle.
Compare activity trackers before you buy
Still unsure which activity tracker to choose? It can often help to compare each tracker including their positive and negative points. Use the chart below to give yourself a better idea!