Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Electronic Fitness Device: which one (if any)?

My brother,and his wife, are very tech oriented and usually have the latest gadgets.  They both have “fitbits” and a friend of mine just got one too.  Not wanting to be left out, I thought I would look at getting something.  Now, I am not a lover of new technologies, and it was with great sadness I finally went to an android touch screen after my daughter pried my Blackberry from my tightly clenched fist.

What does an electronic fitness device do? Well, depending on the model, it will track your steps (pedometer), track your sleep, calculate calories (dependent on you entering what you ate and  entering your activities) and some will beep at you to get up off your couch and move. All of these devices require you to sync with your smart phone or computer. (Yes, some people have “dumb phones” like my hubby who refuses to get a smart phone ’cause he can’t see the screen with out readers.  Fine by me, less data fees to pay!)

I did some research and here is what I found: there are a ton of  makers and models: Fitbit Flex, Garmin Vivofit, Jawbone UP24, Nike Fuelband, Polar Loop and Withings Pulse. Here is what I have learned by reading reviews:

  •  The Fitbit Flex over estimates calories and steps.
  • The Garmin Vivofit and the Polar Loop track heart rate, and and are waterproof. You do have to wear a chest band to record heart rate — it is not part of the watch band, and are sold separately.
  • The Nike Fuelband tends to such down battery life
  • The Fitbit Flex and the Jawbone Up24 will tell you to get up and move, and the Garmin Vivofit has a red bar that gets longer as you are inactive. The Polar Loop lights up as a reminder to get up and move.
  • The Withings Pulse is nifty ’cause you can hold it in your hand and it will check your pulse.  Gimmick? It is NOT waterproof so no swimming!  (It’s from France.  Perhaps they are more careful when they wash their hands…)
  • Fitbit, Jawbone UP, and Withings Pulse sync with MyFitnessPal.  (More later on this in a different post.)  The Garmin Vivofit,  Nike Fuelband, and Polar Loop don’t.
  • They all track sleep
  • Be careful if you buy one that is not waterproof — you could hear the sound of dollars going down the shower drain!
  • You have to be willing to enter what you eat into the software that you will have to use with each gadget.
  • Costs:  Fitbit Flex $99.95, Garmin Vivofit $129.99, Jawbone UP $79.99 (if you plug in to sync) $149.99 (if you use BlueTooth to sync), Nike Fuelband $99.00, Polar Loop $109.95, Withings Pulse$99.99
  • Costs for Heart Rate Monitor: Garmin Vivoflex $69.99 (both Vivoflex and monitor for $179.99), Polar Loop $78.95 (with Loop and monitor 189.99).
  • Last word: each device requires you to enter information either via an ap on your smart phone or on a PC/Mac. Reviews are mixed on all of the various aps, so do some research and know your tolerance for figuring out mystifying web sites.

And, I went out and laid out the cash for the Gamin Vivofit.  Bought it at REI so at least I could get some of it back as a rebate.  I got the slate grey.  Here we go!!!

Charcoal grey on my wrist!

Charcoal grey on my wrist!

Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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