For Christmas last year I received a Fitbit Charge HR as a gift. For me a Fitbit is a funny thing; some people seem to approach wearing one as a magic fitness pill that will suddenly whip you into shape with no other effort required. While I have no such delusions I was interested in the amount of data that the little device can capture and provide me with (privacy implications of said data collection aside).
In addition to the standard step counting, the Charge HR comes with a number of features including:
- Heart rate monitoring (thus the HR in the name)
- Automatic exercise detection and tracking
- Sleep monitoring
- Caller display
- 5 day battery life
Perhaps ironically the one feature that I use the least is the heart rate monitoring. Sure it’s neat to see your heart rate increase during your time at the gym but overall it’s basically just a steady resting heart rate graph which isn’t overly exciting.
The tracker itself is actually pretty nice and while it looks quite awkward, does not at all feel that way. It is very light and I often forget I’m even wearing one, which for someone like me who doesn’t normally like to wear watches is a godsend. If there is one complaint that I have, it is that the screen does get scuffed and scratched over time as you inevitably bump it into things. Thankfully I’ve done a pretty decent job babying it so far and mine only has minor nicks on it.
Of course the Fitbit tracker itself wouldn’t be nearly as useful without pairing it with the Fitbit app on your phone or computer. Once paired you can truly dive into all of your collected statistics and see things like:
- Steps taken
- Heart rate over time
- Distance traveled
- Calories burned
- Floors climbed
- Minutes active (i.e. exercising or whatnot)
- Sleep duration (including times awake or restless)
Additionally the app allows you to track weight loss/gain, food calories eaten and water intake which really makes it a one stop shop for your fitness information. It also rewards you with ‘badges’ whenever you complete a goal or walk a new distance record which helps to bring gamification to your fitness routine.
Perhaps more importantly than all of that however are the community challenges that you can engage in. Want to challenge your friends to taking the most steps during the week or on the weekend? Now you can! … As lame as this sounds it is actually very addictive and can result in some quite fun competitive behaviour.
So has the Fitbit been a magic fitness pill for me? Well no, obviously not. It has however done an excellent job of continuously pointing out how lazy I’m being which has indirectly guilted me into working out more often. Simply for this constant guilt trip I would have to recommend getting a Fitbit (or similar) tracker. Perhaps in some future Fitbit product SKU they could just offer a guilt trip via text message service or something…