What is a fitness band or tracker?
Activity trackers or Fitness Bands refer to the gadgets designed for monitoring and keeping in check your metrics related to health & fitness. At first look, they look like a sleek and stylish watch or bracelet, but the features they offer show a whole other side of the story.
• Distance walked
• Calories Consumed and Burned
• Steps Taken
• Floors climbed
• Your workout details
• Sleep & its quality
• Heart Rate Tracking
These are the prime, fundamental functions that every activity band out there has to offer. Now some may also include many additional services. We’ll come to that later on. The activity tracker then connects to your phone (in 90% cases, wirelessly) and syncs all your recorded data for the day to your app or website.
You can even sync data to your social media, other external applications that you wish to download i.e. MyFitnessPlan etc and then an additional feature of comparing your stats with your friends’ is sometimes offered too.
Simply put, it can be called a small ‘fitness’ bracelet that many experts criticized as being too ‘technological’ and not of such everyday use, but despite the censure, these bands broke the barriers and lines to find themselves a top and permanent place in the market for an average consumer.
How do they work?
Now you are almost aware of what they are, but you may as well be sitting in a corner scratching your head thinking how they work? Well, fear not! The explanation is here! Take a peek behind the curtain to see how these peculiar looking wristlets actually work.
Stating the technical terms in a simple lingo, fitness bands measure your motion i.e. your body movement. Many bands come with an accelerometer of 3-axis that is made to shadow your movements, no matter what direction. Some gizmos also feature the ‘gyroscope’ that can measure rotation & orientation. This collected data is then converted into ‘steps’, ‘activities’ and then make their way to gauging your sleep quality and calories. Yes, the data collected may not always be based on scientific reasons and there are some ‘guesses’ involved along the way, but where these armlets offer so much precision, then a little deviation might not hurt.
Another sensor is the ‘altimeter’, that is useful for measuring altitudes.
On-the-face information displayed by this sensor is the ‘number of stairs climbed’. The ‘heart rate tracking’ offered by these trackers is done through ‘optical sensors’ usually placed at the rear side of the tracker. These are just the basics we talk about here. Many bands come with a variety of sensors that may at some point become obscured for a general consumer to understand, well, let’s just say we don’t want to get our hands dirty by getting into it!
All the frequency, intensity, duration, acceleration and movement patterns help the tracker deem whether you are jogging down the sidewalk or stretching out after a tiring day. If you wish to dive in the thrust of all these specs, check out the list of sensors offered by the (Fitbit Surge).
Lastly, algorithms, different widgets use different algorithms to garner data regarding your movements. Some of these gadgets like the Nike FuelBand also use their own units for gathering data and then displaying them.
Question, are they really ALL that useful and also, are they accurate?
Now this is a tough one to answer. Fitness bands differ from one another and may also deviate a little from the actual readings sometimes. This happens because the trackers struggle to work out how much movement you have been doing throughout the day. The main raison d’être for this is, that like every gadget, the fitness band also has its flaws and they are not perfect in measuring readings and movements.
Now let’s take an example: Say that you take are walking and suddenly stop at a certain point, to drink water or to do anything else. Now you take a small step forward just to reach that glass of water and the band doesn’t measure that step. Why? Because the step was too small to even consider. A similar scenario may occur when your tracker decides not to consider ‘putting hands in your pocket’ as a movement and opts to not record it in the database.
Hence, the accuracy of the fitness band may be thrown off by even a bumpy ride in the car or even a ride in the elevator. So to make certain that the readings are accurate, band makers like Fitbit opt to test their data against other wearables.
Plenty of options:
You have decided you want a fitness tracker. Now the big question, which one to get?
Now there are tons and we do mean, tons of variety available on the tracker table. Starting from the very affordable Xiaomi Mi Band to the very luxurious yet pricey Microsoft Band 2, there are a lot of alternatives to choose from.
For this purpose, you may want to first sit tight and think what do you really want your fitness tracker to do? There is a list of options for bands that track ‘accurate activities’ to bands made specifically for tracking runs or workout sessions and the last, all round fitness trackers.
We review each one based on our research:
1. Go Specific:
These bands are made specifically for people who are either athletes or are looking to up their exercise game by running or cycling more.
Go for the Polar M400, Tom-Tom Multi-Sport, Fitbit Surge or Garmin Vivoactive.
2. Heart Rate Tracking:
Want to keep your heart rate in check while working out?
Try the Fitbit Surge, Basis Peak, Mio Fuse.
Some trackers when paired with chest straps, make for a very good heart rate monitor, such as
Garmin Vivosmart, Garmin Vivofit.
3. Tracking Sleep?
Track your sleep patterns using the praised
Jawbone Up3, Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Sleepace Reston.
4. Want to run?
Try the Microsoft Band 2, Jawbone Up2, Moov Now.
5. Easy on the budget:
Lastly, if you want an all around, best yet affordable tracker, take your pick from,
Xiaomi Mi Band, Misfit Flash, Jawbone Up Move, NuYu Personal Activity Monitor, Razer Nabu X, Fitbug Orb, Sony Mobile SWR10.
So dive right into the gadget-y goodness, to personally get your fair share of experience of the perks, these luxurious gizmos have to offer.
Remember to check out our head to head comparisons of some popular fitness trackers:
Microsoft Band 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart
Microsoft Band 2 vs Fitbit Charge HR
Garmin vivofit 2 vs Garmin Vivoactive
Moov Now vs Misfit Flash
iFit Active vs Fitbit Flex
Misfit Flash vs Xiaomi Mi Band
Jawbone UP2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR
Jawbone UP2 vs Fitbit Charge HR
Jawbone UP3 vs Microsoft Band 2
Jawbone UP2 vs Misfit Flash
Jawbone UP2 vs Jawbone UP3
Jawbone UP Move vs Jawbone UP2
Garmin Vivosmart HR vs Fitbit Charge HR