I Review So You Don’t Have To…Fitbit Charge

As the responsible adult that I am, the moment I get paid I decide that I need to treat myself. So, to celebrate the new year and help myself in my fitness goals, I bought the Fitbit Charge 2.

As someone who is constantly trying to be more mindful and conscientious of personal wellness, I thought that a fitness tracker would be a good tool in helping me quantify my health. At the time of this review, I’ve been using the Fitbit Charge 2 for a month and these are my thought.

Essentially, the Fitbit model I have tracks sleep, heart beats per minute, steps, how many flights of stairs you’ve gone up, and fitness. How well it does each of these things is up for debate (according to some people the bpm tracker is not super accurate, but it’s fine for me).

It retails from a variety of places for about $150.

Here’s how the Charge 2 is described on the Fitbit website:

Make every beat count with a fitness wristband built with PurePulse® heart rate, multi-sport modes, guided breathing sessions & interchangeable bands.

In addition to the aforementioned attributes of the Fitbit, they also talk a lot the heart rate monitor, multi-sport tracking & GPS, cardio fitness level, and guided breathing sessions as stand out features.

The Fitbit isn’t my first jaunt in the fitness tracker realm. Before using the Charge, I had the Jawbone UP 2. The Jawbone was a fine tracker with a nice app interface, but the strap was pretty flimsy. In less than a year of having the tracker, the band broke, but I was able to return it and have a new one sent my way.

In comparison, the Fitbit Charge has a thick, plastic band that is similar to a watch. The notches that secure the band are super well made, so I’m never afraid that the band is going to slip. Plus, the bands are interchangeable, so if you want something fancier/the band is looking tired it’s really easy to replace it. It’s on the whole a bit bulky and not very stylish with the plastic band that comes with the item (like it straight up looks like a fitness tracker, not like a trendy piece of wearable technology). However, I don’t think that detracts from the Fitbit. If I wanted something a bit more sleek, I would have bought it. My aim was to have a tool that allowed me to be more aware of my fitness and that’s what it does.

Rather than having a touch screen like the higher end model or other smart watches/fitness tracker hybrids, the Charge is a tap-centric device. To move through the general screens that give information on resting heart rate/steps/calories burned, you have to tap the bottom of the screen. The worst part about the whole Fitbit Charge is probably this. It’s somtimes really finicky. Like I click on it a ton of times, but it’s not in just the right spot so nothing happens and it’s super frustrating. Navigating the more exercise-centric screens requires usage of the button on the side of the Fitbit…it’s different, but I will say there’s something charming about using a button on a smart device in 2017.

Some Fun with Academia!

Because I’m a huge nerd, I thought this post would not be complete without looking at some current research about fitness trackers. Especially for someone like myself who uses their fitness tracker to increase mindfulness, I thought I would see what the research has on the topic.

According to a study from the American Journal of Lifestyle Fitness, while there has not been data showing how often patients bring in the information from their fitness tracker to their primary medical care provider “it is clear that those who do use mobile fitness trackers self-report improved compliance with behavioral modifications such as increasing the number of steps taken each day” (78). Which makes sense. If you have a way to be aware of you health and have a device that updates you on health metrics, it keeps you aware.

The researchers noted that individuals who are are more aware and cognizant of their wellness exhibit more positive health outcomes than those who don’t. Also, since fitness trackers collect a myriad of data depending on their functionality, it can help medical care providers extrapolate meaningful trends. It’s a bit more reliable than just giving anecdotal data, so it can be useful in a clinical sense.

(Ahuja, Neera, et al. “Integrating Mobile Fitness Trackers Into the Practice of Medicine.”American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, vol. 11, no. 1, 2015, pp. 77-79, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1559827615583643.)

TL;DR

Basically I like the Fitbit Charge 2. It works well and it’s helping me keep track of things so I can take better care of myself.

What are your thoughts on the Fitbit Charge? Have you ever tried a fitness tracker?