Activity monitor devices

Remember when the only way to track your activity was a “high-tech” pedometer you wore on your belt? You know, the kind you can shake in your hand to meet your step goal for the day.

These devices have come along way over the last couple of years and now can track everything from step count to whether or not you had a good night’s sleep. It’s also clear this category of new technology is growing fast and getting increased exposure.

What do you want to track? Activity monitors track a variety of metrics including: steps taken, elevation climbed, distance travelled or calories burned. Some will track sleep duration, sleep quality and a few can even track heart rate.

How do you want it to connect to you? Activity monitors need to be worn in order to track your activity. There are two types: wrist bands and belt clips. Only a few of the devices are water resistant, something important to remember if you put one in your pocket.

Battery life: Belt clip devices tend to have better battery life, the FITBIT ZIP offers six months of use. Wrist band type devices, like the Nike Fuelband and FITBIT ONE, range from three to seven days. Most have rechargeable batteries.

How will you get your data? Bluetooth compatibility is present in a majority of brands, allowing your data to show up on your smartphone or computer. Some devices have a display where you can read your results. Web applications for sharing and viewing data come with all the brands.

Cost? Of the more popular models on the market the least expensive starts at $59, while the latest offering from Polar will list at $109.

If you are looking for a better way to track your activity throughout the day, there should be a product out there that meets your needs. As the market grows, so will the number of great devices.

What activity monitor do you use?

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3 Responses to Activity monitor devices

  1. Sarah Schultz September 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Which one would you go with Chris? Do these work if you are biking or another activity where your legs are moving but the arms are stationary? Do they come in sizes for smaller wrists? Good topic!

  2. Chris Schattschneider, MS, LAT September 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Great question. I would pick one I was going to wear. In my case there is a 100% chance I would lose one of the small devices that attaches to my waist and probably opt for a wrist version. Some come in different sizes while others allow you to cut the extra length off to achieve the proper fit. As for what the units track, they are not really designed to work with cycling or other activities that don’t have you moving around. If the accelerometer in the device doesn’t sense motion then to it sitting on a bike seat is no different than sitting in a chair. The exception would be a unit that also records your heart rate. The Polar Loop is capable of doing this along with the Basis Watch. As stated above, this is a area to watch for new advancements moving forward.

  3. Sarah Schultz October 7, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Perhaps cyclists and stair climbers could wear the device on their ankles then?

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