With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your holidays and how you’re going to look in your shorts and t-shirt after a winter of excess and sloth. This means that wearable fitness tech – which has recently become a major focus of the largest technology manufacturers – could be right up your street.
In the past we’d spend months trying to get fit, with motivation beginning to wane and no measure of how hard we may actually be working. This could all change with the evolution of wearable tech, which shadows our every move and gives us the flexibility to achieve our fitness goals.
There’s no denying fitness tech is all the rage right now and you may be surprised how motivational they can be. By uploading your fitness data to these gadgets, you’re effectively ‘gamifying’ your fitness regime and before long, personal fitness could be as addictive as Candy Crush.
SAMSUNG GALAXY 5
Where else to start but with the new Samsung Galaxy S5, which puts fitness tracking at the heart of its latest marketing pitch. The new Galaxy S5 has a heart rate monitor on the back of the phone, which can be used as your sole fitness indicator – but also invites you to dabble in products like Gear Fit, Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, as well as a host of revolutionary fitness apps such as Runkeeper, Kimble and MyFitnessPal.
SAMSUNG GALAXY GEAR 2
Unlike the Galaxy Gear which is primarily a smartwatch, the Gear 2 does everything a smart-watch does alongside its function as a pedometer, heart rate monitor and being an all round fitness bracelet. You can even download the relevant 3rd party apps to your Galaxy S5 and swap information with fellow users in order to compete for the best results.
BASIS B1 BAND
The Basis B1 might not have the sleek styling of the Gear 2, but many critics would argue that its functionality might surpass its rival. As well as having the normal activity sensors, it also measures perspiration and skin temperature. Additionally, it measures your sleeping activity automatically, so you know how much REM sleep you’ve had in comparison to light sleep and how many times you’ve been disturbed. The Basis also focuses on facets such as resting heart rate and stress levels – health bracelets aren’t always just about fitness!
This is a nice looking device which measures steps, elevation (for hill walking, cycling etc.), heart-rate and sleep levels. The device is only 8 grams in weight and has a neat touchscreen display; it’s definitely worth downloading the relevant apps for both iOS and Android. The company’s site challenges you to beat the WHO’s 10,000 steps a day recommendation and this is exactly where devices like these come in handy.
For an excellent budget version of these devices, you might wish to try the Fitbit Zip. The Zip is a small clip-on device which can be synched via Bluetooth on certain Samsung phones or through a USB adaptor. The Zip is marketed as a real everyday device for normal life and surprisingly allows you to do most of the things that its more advanced counterparts achieve. If these devices are purely about motivation and quantifying the fitness experience, you could do a lot worse than the Fitbit Zip.
The Fitbit Flex is slightly more life-encompassing due to the fact that it’s a ‘fitness band’ in the same manner as the Jawbone UP and the Nike Fuel Band. Again, it’s a lot cheaper than many of its counterparts and it incorporates the ability to monitor sleeping patterns into its design. You should be looking for measurement accuracy in all of these devices and since Fitbit’s sole concern is wearable fitness accessories, this is assured. If cost is a huge factor in your choice, then the Fitbit range is an ideal option.
MIO CYCLO 505HC
Remember that some fitness devices will suit different levels of activity better than others; for example, cycling can be difficult to register on the basic pedometer type devices which might not track distances as well as something like the MIO CYCLO. This device suggests routes to cycle, it synchs via Wi-Fi, it navigates and has a fantastic ‘shake and share’ feature, where you shake the MIO and it shares your times and speeds with other users. Once gain your encapsulating the cycling experience and in doing so you’re becoming more motivated and challenged. This seems on the surface to be a real stand-out piece of tech.
GARMIN FORERUNNER 620
If you think these devices are gimmicky, take a look at the Garmin 620 and you may change your mind. The 620 is practically a virtual coach with features including how long your striding foot is in contact with the ground. The 620 is more like a smartwatch in design and functionality and it measures a host of details such as speed, cadence and even things like ‘Vertical Oscillation’ which describes how much bounce there is in your running motion. This device alone could summarise the benefits of wearable tech for advanced sports coaching.
NIKE+ FUEL BAND SE
The Fuel Band SE is perhaps one of the ultimate ways of ‘gamifying’ your workout. If that’s the predominant aim of all of these products, then this could be the safest choice. The bracelet is sleek and has a nice LED display which will tell you when you’ve hit your daily goals. In each of your daily challenges you’ll gain fuel, it gives you real time feedback and you can join running groups according to your location.
The more you delve into wearable tech, the more you see that it may serve a definitive purpose in years to come. There are a number of ways a smart-watch can already assist us in our daily lives with everything from navigation to finding information instantly, but now, these devices have very much found a home in personal fitness.
Fitness is all about context, motivation and having the ability to consistently challenge yourself. As tech continues to evolve at a rapid rate, embracing the apps, bracelets and digital products that surround us can only help in making the most of our fitness journey.