One of the most popular health trends in recent years has been fitness tracking, otherwise known as biometrics. This usually involves using an app on your phone or some form of wearable technology to count the number of calories eaten, steps taken, and hours slept. Since there are so many of these products on the market, and more keep popping up, I wanted to describe some of the most popular models out there right now.
- Sparkpeople allows you to track both your daily food and exercise. It calculates a daily calorie goal based on your demographics and weight loss goals (from maintenance to losing 1-2 pounds/week) and lets you know how many calories remain for a day as well as a breakdown of macronutrients (fat/carbs/protein). Foods can be searched for and entered manually, you can also save things to your favorites if you eat a similar diet. Daily exercise can also be searched for and entered manually or you can use your phone GPS to track your distance and speed. It also provides a list of strength exercises with descriptions and demos if you are looking for exercise suggestions. This nutrition based app can also connect with friends and it provides a daily coaching tip.
- MapMyFitness uses your phone’s GPS to record any mobile exercise such as walking, running, cycling, otherwise it tracks the time spent doing a stationary exercise while providing generic background music. You can also manually log a workout and enter your food intake. It can use the iPhone motion sensor to track 24/7 activity or can be linked to devices such as Jawbone, FitBit, and Polar, which are discussed below. One great feature for runners is that it has several pre-planned routes suggested by other users throughout the city of Seattle with the distance, elevation and a short description.
- MyFitnessPal is another nutrition based app that keeps a record of your daily caloric intake based on your diet, exercise, and weight loss goals. You can easily search for foods and enter your workouts. This app has a simpler interface that may seem more user-friendly for basic diet and exercise logging. For added motivation it allows you to connect with friends and has a forum with various topics you may find interesting. It also connects to several other apps and fitness devices.
- FitBit: For ~$100 you can choose between the clip-on style of the FitBit One or the bracelet style of the FitBit Flex. Both styles keep a log of your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and sleep quality. But the FitBit Flex will also track total active minutes, your progress towards a daily goal, and will vibrate to remind you to move. All stats sync up wirelessly to a computer or smartphone and it will also send the information to other apps, including the ones mentioned above.
- Polar Loop: Polar is one of the leading brands of heart rate monitors and has been expanding into other methods of ‘smart coaching’ recently. For ~$110 the Polar Loop watch tracks steps taken, the amount of time spent active at various intensity levels, sleep quality, and provides an inactivity alert. All information can be uploaded to a computer or the Polar Flow mobile app. Pros of this model include water resistance so that it can be utilized for a swim workout, it acts as a watch too so you don’t have to wear multiple accessories, and it uses your heart rate to alert you of your ‘fat-burning zone’ for more specific training intensities.
- JawBone: You can purchase a clip-on style UPmove for ~$50, or a bracelet style UP24 for ~$130. Both models track number of steps taken, calories burned, and sleep quality. They both also provide individualized motivation and coaching tailored to you. The UPmove also displays the time, your progress towards a daily goal and lets you track your mood. They connect wirelessly to a computer or the UP app. These devices are also compatible with over 25 other personal and health related apps.
Under Armour also just recently came out with a new app called UARecord, which hopes to bridge the gap between all of these options. It is already compatible with several devices such as Jawbone, FitBit, MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and Polar and it plans to expand. The app itself allows you to log or track a workout and log sleep or weight changes. For motivation there is a live feed of posts, photos, and videos of other user’s workouts, you can choose to follow friends and professional athletes, and you can create personalized challenges for you and your friends.
These are only a few of the options out there for people who want to take a more in-depth look at their health and fitness metrics. If you have experience using fitness tracking technology let us know in the comments what you like best or dislike about a particular app or wearable.