fitness bands

So I lost my jawbone cap. It was just a matter of time as it was a removable piece that I left lying around while charging. The maid probably threw it away.

Using this as an excuse, I went and bought myself a Garmin Vivosmart.

Anyways, what's trending now are fitness trackers. Wearables that track:

  • steps
  • calories
  • sleep
  • idle activity
  • Heart rate
Skeptics scoff saying that tracking all these are meaningless, but I disagree. I've been an on and off again user of the Jawbone UP and it's helped me improve my quality of life.

1. Steps - this is the basic function of all fitness trackers. It counts the steps you take. I tried waving my arms and swinging em up and down to trick it into recording a step but it doesn't register (which is good). Looks like steps are recorded based on x and y axis. I average 5000 steps and above daily but hitting the recommended 10k steps is not easy (I only hit this figure when I went shopping or if I'm travelling overseas) Anyway, it's fun to see the numbers increase and I find myself finding ways to walk more, or taking the stairs when I'm going home. I even walk to the mall from the office which takes an average 2000 steps (how disappointing) during lunch hour just so I can meet my daily quota.

2. Sleep quality - this has been invaluable to me to measure my quality of sleep. When I started wearing the band, my quality of sleep was abysmal. At a glance, it seemed like I was going to sleep at 1am and waking up @ 9am which should give me adequate rest of 8 hours. But after charting my sleep patterns, I went to bed at 1am with my iPad and dozed off around 3 or 4am, I only have 1 hour+ of deep sleep which left me exhausted in the morning. Wearing a fitness tracker forced me to have better sleep habits. Now when I manually turn on sleep mode, it is lights and iPad off as well.

3. Calorie - The band itself does not record the calories but you have to manually input this into myFitnessTracker. Whatever you input gets converted into calories to view on the band to up the guilt factor. I only get 1,200 calories a day (give or take a few hundred more, depending on my level of exercise for the day), and I find myself eating less portions for dinner just to not exceed quota. The summary that says I will weigh xx kgs if  kept this up is a very motivating factor.

4. Notifications - Only the higher ends that are capable of display have this function. I find it very useful as I am using a Galaxy Tab S (which is 8.4 inches big), therefore a quick glance @ my wrist is more convenient than taking the phone out of my backpack.

5. Heart rate - My current trackers do not have this. It's a good-to have feature but I can make do without it. I'm a bad enough hypochondriac with this feature

6. Idle activity - most of the basic trackers will buzz you when you sit on your ass for too  long.
I admit there are also some desktop solutions for this, but the tracker stays with you 24/7 and this makes it a set-once-forget utility.

7. App - the app shows you the results of the tracking. The app is very important as it interprets and analyses the raw data into information that you can actually use & adapt your lifestyle based on it. It shows you patterns and trends and makes recommendations to improve your lifestyle.

When I was researching which tracker to buy, I shortlisted a few.

  • mio Fuse
  • garmin vivosmart
  • garmin vivofit
  • moov
  • generic China brands
  • Samsung gear fit , MS Band (screen too thick)
  • Nike Fuelband (loved the design, but more for runners)
I briefly considered the jawbone up2 & fitbit but lack of a display checked them off my list.
Price and app usability were my main deciding factors. I almost went for the vivofit until I found somebody selling the vivosmart for the price of a vivofit. FYI, vivosmart is the higher end of vivofit albeit with a significantly shorter battery life.

I did not go with the Fuse as it was too thick and reviews did not give good ratings where sleep analysis was concerned.

The moov although cheap did not have what I wanted (it only tracked during workouts and I did not work out 24/7)

I slashed generic China brands off the list as I was worried about battery life and app usability (they have a bad track record)

In the end I settled for the vivosmart and have been using it for almost a week now.
Review on vivosmart coming up next

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