The scoop: Wearable Fitness Tech

Fitness gadgets

The situation: You’ve been living a healthier life, eating right and getting more activity into your everyday routine.

The problem: Despite it all, your belt buckle’s still not budging, and your results are nowhere near what you were hoping for.

What’s the deal? Could it be you aren’t really pushing yourself that hard at the gym? Or maybe that 30-minute post dinner power walk looks more like a lazy, afternoon stroll? Perhaps unbeknownst to you, all that crunchy granola-like food you’ve been struggling down isn’t really worth the struggle after all. (For the record, calorie and sugar laden granola isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.)

The solution: It’s time to stare down the facts. By looking face-to-face at the hard data of your nutritional and fitness routines, you can seek out areas for improvement you might otherwise be missing. But how? We wouldn’t expect you to spend all day counting each step you take, calculating each calorie you burn, or monitoring your heart rate every minute of your run. (If you are doing all of that, maybe that’s the problem. You can’t pick up the pace if you’re also picking up your pen and paper at every step, too.) The good news is that there are an array of devices on the market that can do all of this for you just by adding them to your wardrobe. They do all the tricky number-crunching and calculator work, while you go at the fun stuff (i.e., sweating it out to your favorite tunes, drinking down your ginger green shakes, and hula hooping on your lunch breaks.)

Devices, eh? The wearable fitness technology market is booming. It is expected to grow to $30 billion by 2018. These devices are usually worn around your wrist like a watch or clipped somewhere on your clothing. Seems convenient enough, right? Most wearable fitness devices will track basic such as steps, calories, and even your sleep patterns. Some include heart rate monitors, GPS, and other bells and whistles. We’ve rounded up a list of some of the most innovative and popular to give you a good start on what you can find. Following, find a list of free phone apps you can use in the meantime to track and keep your health on track.

  • Fitbit Flex: Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband

Price: $100

The Fitbit Flex records your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, active minutes, hours slept and quality of sleep. It also syncs wirelessly to a personal online profile so you can easily see your stats and know exactly how much you’ve been working (or slacking). You can also set daily goals and the Fitbit will let you know how you are progressing towards those targets throughout the day. Here’s a device that will motivate you to work harder. But remember, it won’t do the work for you!

  • Basis: “The World’s Most Advanced Health Tracker”

Price: $200

While the Basis includes tracking for steps, calories, sleep and other types of activity, the device will also analyze all of the data to suggest small steps in your daily routine. It will provide tips to help you create lifelong healthy habits based off your existing routines. Have you been pulling all-nighter’s trying to get some work done? Or neglecting your morning workouts? This device will work with you to help correct your not-so-healthy habits in order to improve your wellness. It also has a heart rate monitor and tracks your perspiration. Pretty neat, right?

  • Moov: “Meet Your Personal Coach”

Price: Pre-orders: Limited quantities $70; Fall 2014: $120

While not available just yet, Moov is on its way to becoming one of the newest and most innovative fitness trackers on the market. Moov analyzes body form and intensity to really show you if you’re going hard at the gym or just breezing through your workout. And when you are slacking, Moov is there to tell you or show you how to do it right with audio and visual cues. This can prevent injuries and help you get the most out of your workout. You can wear it on your wrist, ankle, shoes, or even attach it to your racket, club or bat. It is capable of analyzing your movements in activities such as swimming (it’s waterproof!), boxing, body weight exercises, baseball, tennis and even yoga. It can tell you how to improve everything from your game, form, and workout. Moov can be thought of as your own personal trainer that goes everywhere you go.

  • GOQii (Pronounced Go-Key): The Wearable Fitness Coach

Price: Device: Free;    Service: $100/6 months; $180/1 year

A new start-up company, GOQii, has announced in February that they have paired the wearable fitness wristband with the real-life community of health coaches and fitness professionals. The device and the coaches will motivate you by analyzing your fitness data, helping you set goals and offering advice. Sure, you won’t have someone in front of you constantly yelling at you to move a little faster, but you will have someone that will hold you accountable for what you have and have not done. The price of the service pays for daily live chats with coaches using the GOQii app as well as one check-in phone call a month. The coaches are professional fitness trainers, and can remotely vibrate your wristband to give you some added “go get ‘em” support as you work out. Currently, this innovative device will be available only in India starting in April but the company is planning to expand availability to the US, Singapore, UAE, and the UK.

The Takeaway:  These devices can help you see where you currently are when it comes to activity levels and can motivate you to get even more movement into your life. But in the end, like all aspects of life, you are in control of your actions. A fitness tracker won’t get you fit. However, it’s always helpful (and fun!) to have gadgets that can make you more aware of your overall wellness. Pick the one that best fits you.

In the meantime, here are some free fitness phone apps to get you started:

These fitness tracking apps are available for free on iOS and Android smartphones. They range from as simple as your common pedometer to as high tech as some of the wearable fitness trackers. You choose what suits you best.

  • Noom Walk: Simplistic in design and function, this app counts your steps continually without having to turn the app on or off. It doesn’t use GPS so it’s not a battery-draining energy-sucker. You can set daily step goals and even connect with friends to encourage each other to get out and move. If you want to keep it simple but receive a boost of motivation to stay moving, this is for you.
  • RunKeeper: RunKeeper is more than just a running app; it can track cycling, walking and other activities. At your fingertips, it gives you stats on your activity time, pace, distance and calories burned. You can also design your own workout with different intervals and intensities. Then, after you kick your butt through a week of workouts, the app compiles all of that data of your progress into a neat page that you can review and share. RunKeeper is simple to use and effective at giving you hard evidence you can view to improve.
  • Sleepbot: Sleep is a vital aspect of overall health. Poor sleep quality can lead to poor health. With that, we welcome Sleepbot! This app has simple features that can track your movement and environmental noise as you get your ZzZ’s on. It provides you with detailed sleep logs and also acts as a gentle alarm clock if you so choose. You can set it just like a regular alarm but the app will wake you up during your lightest sleep (within 30 minutes of your desired wake time), which is ideal for feeling the most awake the next day.

The Takeaway: Wearable fitness trackers can be incredibly useful and worthwhile if you have the money to spend on them. For those who could use extra motivation, or are simply curious about tracking their numbers, it’s certainly money well spent. Fitness apps are the next best thing to get serious about your health, and come in a variety of free versions. Finding the right fitness trackers, wearable or not, is all about experimentation to find what works best for you. The key is to choose one you’ll stick with and that you find most convenient to integrate into everyday life. Then, it’s up to you to get moving!

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