These days, gadgets and apps have become as much a part of working out as exercise weights and running sneakers. There’s an app for measuring your reps, your run distance, time spent playing basketball, how much weight you’ve lost. Now, a generation of wrist-mounted gadgets promise to do all of the above, and more, adding the comfort of a simple design whose only demand is some of the unused real estate available on your body. Nike released its FuelBand back in 2012, solely aiming to enumerate your day’s physical activity, but activity-tracking bands are only just getting started; even Apple and Google are rumoured to be getting on board. While this most recent crop of three bands won’t make you a super-athlete overnight, they certainly will help you stay ahead of the game when to comes to taking control of your health and tracking your progress.
The newest entry in the fitness band game is FitBit, which just announced its Force watch. The sexy design and rubber housing aside, the Force’s main feature is the variety of activities it measures, such as steps taken, floors climbed with its built-in altimeter (great to measure your jumping exercises) and also its unique measure of “active minutes,” which are considered movements from a brisk walk on up. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it also measures your downtime as you’re asleep, giving you some insight into the quality of your rest.
Other useful features include a display—which sets it apart from many competitors, believe it or not—as well as a one-piece construction, so that no parts have to be removed to sync with your computer. The Force can also connect to an iPhone 4S or later, Android devices, plus the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and Note II via Bluetooth, and its batteries last between seven to 10 days. When it’s connected, it sends you notifications if someone is calling your phone or shoots you a text (hopefully not distracting you from your fitness endeavours).
Although the UP was released last year, it remains a contender now that Jawbone recently released its API to app developers. That means while other devices have certain activities and measurements baked in, UP will allow developers to create custom apps to use the device’s biometric gauges. Whether this means games based on physical activity or simply a wider range of measured exercises, time will only tell.
However, what the UP currently boasts is your typical calorie-tracking, but that’s paired with an amazing companion app that presents information in a clear, concise manner, allowing you to draw conclusions about what habits to switch, and even lets you scan food barcodes to input nutrition information for use with its food tracker (great if you’re dieting). This also translates very well with its sleep tracker, so you can really take control of your resting hours. The downside is that you have to plug the band into your phone in order to sync and check on your progress.
Nike FuelBand SE
The progenitor of activity-tracking bands, Nike recently announced a new iteration of its original 2012 entry: the FuelBand SE, slated to drop November 6 and boasting more biometric measurements than before. Aside from hardware updates enabling Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity for persistent iPhone syncing (the only device it works with), improved water resistance and yes, more colours, it can now make the switch to sleep-tracking mode, not to mention track specialized workout “sessions” for yoga, biking, tennis and other sports.
Adding to the Nike Fuel metric—a measure of all your physical activity, that can even be compared to pro athletes—is a new companion app which graphs your activity and motion within 24 hours. Hopefully, this will give your activity levels a psychological boost, as it recommends at least five minutes of activity every hour. If that doesn’t do the trick, the app also awards badges and virtual rewards, and who doesn’t love those?