As a mom with kids, I often find myself so busy that I am unable to exercise like I used to when I was younger. And even when I do have time, I often am too tired and unmotivated to go out and do something to stay physically fit.
Because of this, I have started to try out this new wearable tech craze that has been going on. These things are known as “fitness trackers” and they are supposed to log your exercise routines and give you helpful reminders when you have been sitting around for too long. Wearable fitness trackers like the Fitbit and Apple Watch are lightweight and have a watch like face on them that helps you navigate the myriad of features and settings they offer.
What’s more, there are also many trackers that are kid focused. That is, they offer features like being able to radio your child when he is wearing the device and some even have GPS tracking so he/she will never get lost.
I recently purchased a Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 for my child, which is feel is easily one of the bes
t fitness trackers for kids. This device has a lot of Disney theme arm bands which is great if your kids are into Disney character’s. It also offers a color screen and have a myriad of educational type games on it. There are also daily activity goals and movement reminders which are similar to in scope to many adult oriented fitness trackers.
I also love the fact that I can assign chores to the device and it will beep to remind my kids when they have forgotten to do them. It does the nagging for me! Haha.
But anyways, I digress. I have had a lot of experience with fitness trackers over the past year and I feel that I have a found the best fitness tracker for adults. But before I give you my personal opinion, let me give you a brief overview about fitness trackers, and how to spot one with good features.
Fitness Tracker Sensors
Some fitness trackers are limited in there sensor design, and others will boast a large array of sensors that can track almost any type of movement. The three sensors I look for in a good activity tracker are:
Accelerometer – all good fitness trackers should have an accelerometer for tracking your steps throughout the day. They are also good for logging things like running and jogging. Basically any type of lateral movement.
Altimeter – this sensor is for tracking your elevation. This is handy for those folks who like to do a lot of hiking or even mountain climbing. It has a more practical use as well – it can log how many flights of stairs you’ve traversed during the day.
Gyroscope – these sensors are ideal for tracking movement and rotation. These sensors will make it easier for your tracker to calculate sports like swimming and cycling, or even dancing. Basically anything with a bending or twisting motion.
Heart rate sensors – being able to keep track of your heart rate during your exercise is really handy for making sure you stay “in the zone” so to speak. There are 3 types of heart rate sensors: optical, which work by singing a signal into your wrist, Ballistocardiography which generally go over your chest and track your heart beat directly, and electrical, which operate by monitoring the electrical signals under your skin.
Most decent activity trackers should have at least an accelerometer and gyroscope. The better ones will have altimeters and heart rate monitors as well. If you are serious about tracking your fitness, its best to go for a device that at least has a heart rate sensor, as it will increase your ability to track your workouts and also help with the accuracy of the tracker as well.
Fitness Tracker Features
There are a lot of different features that set a good fitness tracker apart from a bad one. But I think I have found the most important ones, so I will go ahead and stick to those. Here are my thoughts on the matter.
Sleep tracking – Many devices will allow you to log and score your sleeping quality each night. This is great for me as I have a lot of sleep issues, and my tracker has helped me to nail down a lot of what is causing them. Keep in mind that a tracker that doesn’t have a heart rate monitor will only log you’re out of bed duration and movement. You won’t be able to see your REM/normal sleep periods, which can be really beneficial if you want to dig deep into your sleeping patterns. This is another reason to get a tracker with a heart rate sensor.
GPS – the really high end trackers have GPS built into them. This is great for people who do a lot of cycling or distance running since you can map out your trip and have a super accurate log of all of your activities at the end of the day. The downside to GPS is that it tends to drain your battery very quickly, so you will have remember to charge your device during the day if you go on a long bike ride.
Connectivity – most fitness trackers are standalone devices. But some higher end ones can do neat things like sync up with your smart phone and forward texts and calendar alerts. I like this feature because I hate carrying my phone with me at the gym. A few trackers will have Bluetooth smart, which allows you to ofcource pair your phone but also other types of sensors such as foot pods and power meters. This is probably a feature that is more for the hardcore wearable folks out there though.
Well I hope I didn’t ramble on too long. These are just a few of my thoughts about staying fit in today’s busy world.