R4W’s Review Of Activity Monitors For Runners
Last week we told you how small improvements to every day activity can add up to fat loss and weight management.
Here’s our review of some fantastic on-body activity monitors – find out how they can help you lose weight, sleep better and make good food choices!
What are activity monitors? Why are they better than pedometers, GPS and heart rate monitors?
Activity monitors are “on-body” devices which use really smart micro technology to monitor various bodily signals (including heart rate, movement, activity) to collect data about your metabolic rate, calories burned, sleep, even how long you spend standing or sitting every day.
You wear them 24/7 (although some don’t do well with baths and showers!), and then retrieve the data by hooking the device up to your laptop or an app on your phone or tablet. You can even sync it all up by Bluetooth.
In addition to all this, you can use the devices alongside other apps and websites like calorie counters, running route apps and weight diaries. Some activity monitors can even be programmed to bleep, flash or vibrate throughout the day to remind you of healthy lifestyle habits (like standing up more often).
Smart stuff! Many health and fitness experts are hailing “on-body tech” as the next big thing to help improve people’s fitness, health and activity. But which activity monitor is best for you? Here’s a few we’ve tried out. We’d love to hear from you if you already use an activity monitor, or if you get one in 2015!
Not an activity monitor as such, but a reliable, cost effective pedometer which can ease you into the world of monitoring your data to make improvements in health and activity. The PD-724 (£24.95) is a small, light pedometer which is much more accurate than any traditional pedometers you might have tried in the past. It uses “3-Axes technology” to give reliable data feedback including your steps, distance and total activity time, as well as calories and fat burned. It’s a great tool to help you meet your New Year fitness or weight loss goals. You can clip it to clothing, hang it around your neck, or just keep it in your pocket or your bag (which is what we did).
Our personal favourite, the UP from Jawbone has a host of features including pedometer, sleep monitor and alarm system which you can programme to remind you to drink water or even to start getting ready to go to bed! It synchs data to your phone or tablet quickly and easily, and also hooks up with popular nutrition and running apps including MyFitnessPal. We really liked the “idle alert” which you can set to remind you not to sit for too long at a stretch, and we loved the chatty little motivational stats and facts which pop up when you log in to the app. It all felt very personalised, and definitely helped us be aware of how much we moved during the day. We trialled the UP 24 which costs £99.99.
The more you pay for an activity monitor, the more you tend to get, and that’s the case here. The Fitbit Flex costs £79.99 but has a huge range of features, including feedback on how well you slept last night, information about total active minutes, and the option to be gently woken up by a silent alarm. The lights on the front of the monitor indicate how well you’re doing against your personal daily goals, so you can see at a glance if you need to walk or move more. You can log weight and food intake or hook it up to a different external app if you already use one. We liked how easy it was to launch the app, change to sleep mode and synch data – just tap the wristband! And you’ll love the fact that it’s compatible with MobileRun to track your training.
Max Fitness Pro
Max Fitness Pro’s activity bracelets are quite new to the activity monitor market, and we trialled the Boost Bracelet, £49.99. It records steps (and distance), calories burned during daily activity, and even how well you slept. We liked the fact that you can click on the bracelet at any time to see how your steps have totalled up to that point, without needing to synch the data. It’s waterproof, which is handy if you’re an outdoor runner or trail runner! The Max Fitness app can be downloaded to your phone or tablet so you can pore over your data once you’ve uploaded it.
This one seems to be popular with women runners so we were keen to give it a go. At just £29.99, it’s a budget-friendly way of accessing this exciting activity monitor market. It tracks your movement 24 hours a day, and enables you to log what you eat too so you can gradually work towards the personal goals you’ve set. We liked the fact that you can wear it as a watch, around your neck on a lanyard, or clipped to clothing. It’s easy to synch data via bluetooth to the free app and Fitbug has a great online community should you want to hold yourself accountable that way.