Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’ve left it too late to buy something, this is not the post for you. Not very romantic to buy your loved one a “digital minder”. Get some flowers and grovel, instead. But, if you want to buy yourself a present you’ve come to the right place.
Wearable activity trackers (usually wristbands) have been around for awhile now. Chances are, if you haven’t got one already, you know someone who has. In itself it’s becoming the norm, so that’s a very persuasive psychological argument. They look good and you want one. But, as a superhero, first of all, just ask yourself
Why do I want a digital minder?
There is now some evidence that says wearable activity trackers do not help you lose weight. If weight loss alone is your goal, get an accountability buddy, read this blog and save your pennies. But activity trackers do all sorts of other things:
most track your steps. If you want a wake up call as to just how sedentary you are, tracking your steps and being nudged to move every hour can help with activity levels and thus longevity (if you get your 8000 plus steps per day). However, it’s a lot of expense for what is essentially a pedometer – you can get apps on your phone for that, or at least a cheap pedometer.
Quite a few track your sleep. Honestly, how helpful is that? If you’ve got insomnia, you know it. Labouring the point with a nagging device is likely to make you worry more about it. We’ll blog on a theory Thursday about good sleep and technology does NOT help. If you sleep well, unless you want to brag about it (not cool!) why check?
Link with your phone
You get texts on your wrists and an alert if you have a call coming in. Useful, if your phone is buried in a bag and you need to decide whether to dive for it or not, but hardly worth the asking price. We’re chained to the constant information stream enough as it is.
Training motivation and progress
OK. This is what wearable tech can do for you. This is the geek-tastic power of what you wear on your wrist. If you’re training, or want to get better. That means going farther or faster, or both. When you tell your wearable you’re going for a run it will happily chirp at you every kilometre. If you’re a glass half full person this will speed you on your way as you knock off the distance. If you look at your wrist you can also see how fast you ran that kilometre. You might try to run the next one faster. When you get home, you can upload into an app and compare your stats with last time. You can track yourself on the map. You can brag about it on Facebook. In short, you are a very happy superhero indeed.
If you are a glass half empty person, it could be demotivating to have “only” done that one kilometre. You probably need an accountability buddy, too. 😉
So, if you’re decided it is the right thing for you, how do you decide which one? First decide what your activity and budget is. Decide if you need a watch or just a tracker. Decide if you just want to track steps and sleep or if you might cycle, run, swim or (!) play golf. Think about connectivity with gadgets you already have and decide if you could cope with taking your phone with you to get the full range of your tracker’s features or whether you need built-in GPS. You can visit this website for a geekily satisfactory full list, with comparisons, or you can read my totally unscientific, biased rant below:
Fitbits are almost ubiquitous. But Fitbits don’t like water. The cats of the wearable tech world, even the new one is only “showerproof”. They do look gorgeous, but when has that ever swayed the superhero geek??? Plus, the wristband comes undone: Wonder Woman lost hers in a particularly devastating municipal dump related tragedy. (Devastating because usually a tip trip makes hobbits happy)
Bought for poppa hobbit and hobbitMum annoyingly does not give steps but converts to some units of its own. Has not been successful in removing hobbit bottoms from hobbit chairs (but this blog has, so well done those hobbits!). No display, just a circle of LEDs that will all light up when you’ve moved sufficiently to satisfy it.
Small and affordable but no display. You have to set it up before you exercise and wait to sync with your phone to find out what you did. But a very comprehensive “app” when you do.
Apple Watch (series 2)
A thing of beauty. If you’ve got the money and other apple products you will be considering this. Series 1 was a waste of time for superheroes – no GPS. But series 2 is waterproof with GPS and inbuilt HR monitor. If you can afford it, you want a watch not just a tracker and you already like and use Apple then it’s probably a no-brainer. Yes, I am a bit jealous of the super-badmultitasker…
Confessions time again. I am a garmin girl. It’s big and ugly but it tells me the truth (accurate GPS and steps) and it has all the triathlon disciplines, plus the ability to download a triathlon app for races (which works for open water.). The technology works across the range so you can spend more or less depending on your gadget budget, but still get the relevant info for your training needs. The battery life is excellent and it’s quick to recharge. I have never been a fan of heart rate monitoring, but if that’s your thing then you can get that included, or as a compatible extra. It can link with “the sufferfest” and if you get lost on a run you can press the Star Trek button and get teleported home. (Well, maybe the GPS guides you home……..but a hobbit can dream…..)
Do you still want one?? Of course you do!!! 😀