Sunday 4 January 2015

Activity Trackers

If your new year's resolutions includes getting fitter then you may want to look at activity trackers that are currently available on the market. Traditional fitness trackers have been in the shape of watches and have been able to measure your pulse and distance as well as track your time. With the advent of smartphones, activity trackers now include a lot more features that make use of the smart phone technology. By combining the fitness apps with the tracker sensors, you can measure just about any physical activity. As an example, if you want to start a new diet you can measure the number of calories you are burning based on your daily activities such as walking, jogging or cycling, as measured by the tracker. In addition you can manually specify the meals you are eating and measure the number of calories you are ingesting as well. Current model Android and iPhones include fitness apps by default but there are plenty of free apps available through the relevant app store. Activity trackers have their own apps as well. The most common brand of trackers are Jawbone and Fitbit, but there are plenty of others available. The latest Jawbone tracker, the UP3, seems to be the most advanced yet. It is is in the form a wrist band (not a watch like many others) and is water proof to 10m, so can be worn when swimming. Resting heart rate is measured using galvanic skin response, which is different to other trackers as they typically use a light source to measure the blood flow. The UP3 is also allegedly capable of detecting the form of activity automatically, which is very convenient. In addition it can also track the various stages of sleep, so it gives you plenty of information about your activities. Setting goals is a standard part of the tracker features and is a good way to track how you are progressing with your daily activities. You can view your historic progress and see how you have been fairing over the last day, week, month or more. 

I have been using the Samsung Gear Fit and beside the usual activity tracker benefits, it also provides notifications from my phone for things such as emails, SMS messages, calendar alerts and so on.  The Gear Fit will also use the  GPS capabilities when paired with the phone so you can track your distance and altitude when running cycling or hiking. The amount you can see on the Gear Fit  is limited by the screen size, but it is a useful way to see what is happening on your phone instantly. The range and capability of wearable technology is just starting to mature so keep an eye out for products that may suit your lifestyle and help you achieve your new year's resolutions.