Activity trackers have come a long way since the pedometer I used to wear clipped to my waistband back in my Weight Watchers days. The latest models do more than just step tracking- they are designed to give a more overall view of your health including sleep, heart rate, calories consumption and water intake.
The FitBit Charge HR provides real-time stats, wireless syncing and heart rate monitoring without the need for a chest strap. It’s biggest selling point is the optical heart rate monitor which uses a LED light to record your pulse rate throughout the day. I’ve not tried previous incarnations of the FitBit, but I do use a dedicated multi-sport watch, the Garmin 920XT to track my swimming, cycling and running. It was interesting to compare the two devices over the course of a week…
- The FitBit HR Charge was simple to set up, I paired it with my iPhone, downloaded the app and input some basic details. It’s easy to keep an eye on your stats while you are on the move- just tap the button beside the display screen to scroll through steps, heart rate, distance, calories burned and floors climbed. The app displays more detailed metrics on a dashboard, with the ability to view charts and graphs.
- The slim understated band with discreet display screen makes the FitBit Charge HR easy and comfortable to wear on a daily basis. There have been some reports of the strap causing skin irritation, but I’ve personally not had this problem. I love the bold tangerine colour, but it is also available in black, plum, blue and teal.
- It’s been useful to monitor my step count over this week. The results have really highlighted how much more active I am at the weekend! I’ve fallen short of the recommended 10,000 steps per day on Monday to Friday, but exceeded it on Saturday and Sunday. That’s not to say that I was not active on weekdays, but I was generally doing activities which did not require steps (like cycling or swimming).
- The feature of the FitBit HR Charge which I found most useful was the sleep tracker. The device produces a graph showing when you were awake, asleep and restless. My sleep goal was set at 8 hours per night, so I’m pleased to see that this week I’ve averaged 8 hours 9 minutes. I assumed that the watch would only track sleep during the night, so I took an afternoon nap (for research purposes of course) and was surprised to see that it had recorded this accurately. My Garmin 920XT is also able to track sleep patterns, however I have never used it for this purpose as the watch is too chunky and uncomfortable to wear in bed.
- The SmartTrack feature available on this device automatically recognises and records workouts including walking, running and outdoor biking. There is no need to start recording, as it will by default recognize an exercise which lasts at least 15 minutes. I found this quite handy as I didn’t have to remember to start the device at the beginning of a run or bike ride.
- The biggest downfall of the FitBit Charge HR is that it cannot be worn for swimming. The device cannot stand the force associated with swimming strokes, according to the FitBit website. If like me, you swim several times a week this renders the tracker redundant for monitoring pool-based workouts. Swimming can be manually added via the app, but this slightly defeats the purpose of wearing a fitness tracker.
- The tracker shows incoming calls on the display when your phone is nearby, however it is not able to display text messages or social media notifications. It’s a handy feature, but loses out against the Garmin 920XT as this displays alerts from pretty much every app on my phone.
- Whenever you reach a new milestone, the app rewards you with a badge. I must admit I’ve not been too concerned about earning badges- they are a nice feature but not really motivation alone for me to be more active!
- The other major downfall of this device is that it doesn’t use GPS, so you are unable to view a map or detailed information on your run or cycle. You can however use the FitBit app on your GPS-enabled mobile device to capture this data. I however, just preferred to use my Garmin 920XT for tracking these activities.
The FitBit Charge HR was provided by Debenhams for review, but all opinions are my own.
Do you wear an activity tracker? Have you tried the FitBit Charge HR?