Setting goals is key to losing weight and staying in shape. But goals are not enough. You need a way to track your progress at every step of the way. Luckily there are many simple and low-cost options that allow you to do just that.
Take the pedometer, for example. At the very least, it lets you know how many steps you take throughout the day, distance traveled, and even how many calories you’ve burned. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate. But it gives you a relative measure to go by.
I own the Omron HJ-112. It’s simple, cheap, and gets the job done. I never leave home without it and you should get one right now if you don’t already own one. Again, it will do wonders for your waistline and overall health.
With that said, if you’re into gadgets and like to track more than just your steps and calorie burn, you’re in luck. That’s because fitness tracking apps are popping up everywhere offering you all kinds of data on your daily activities.
Given that, this article will go over the top 4 gadgets that can help you get and stay in shape. And when you’re done reading it, you’ll have a good grasp on what’s out there so you can make an informed decision.
Let’s get started…
The first app I’d like to review is the Nike+ FuelBand. It’s a cool little device that you wear around your wrist. It keeps track of all your movements through the use of an accelerometer and lets you know how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned.
It also tracks activities such as running, playing hoops, dancing, and several others. You can set goals for the day, chart your progress on your smartphone, and tell the world how you’re progressing by auto-posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Path.
Pretty cool, eh? This glorified pedometer doesn’t come cheap, however. Amazon lists it between $168 and $240 – ouch.
Next, there’s Fitbit. Like Nike, this company also has a few different products to choose from, but the Zip Wireless Activity Tracker is the former’s true competitor. It counts the steps you’ve taken, distance traveled, and calories burned. Like the FuelBand it syncs this data with your computer and smartphone, allows you to set goals, and charts your progress.
However, what I like about this gadget in particular is that you don’t have to wear it around your wrist. You can put it in your pocket like a pedometer (or on your belt or purse). One more thing that got my attention: you can challenge your friends to activity competitions. That’s a great way to stay motivated, stay on your diet, and reach your goal weight.
Finally, if its features haven’t sold you, perhaps its price will: starting at under $60 ($59.95) it’s practically a third less than the FuelBand. Not bad – not bad at all.
Moving on, we have the Jawbone UP. Like the FuelBand this is also worn around your wrist. It also tracks steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned. But that’s where the similarities end.
This smart device also monitors your sleep patterns (e.g. how many hours you sleep, when you’re in deep sleep, when you’re in light sleep, etc.) – a very important factor as far as weight loss is concerned. Furthermore, it can wake you up when you’re most likely to feel refreshed (probably by distinguishing between REM and non-REM sleep).
And, if that isn’t enough to impress you, you can also track what you eat and drink by taking a photo or scanning a barcode. The app will look it up in its database and provide you with all sorts of detailed nutritional information.
The best part? The Jawbone UP will only set you back $100. Sure, that’s a lot more than a basic pedometer but it also does so much more. It’s worth it in my honest opinion if you want to go the extra mile with your data.
Now, for the final fitness tracking app: the Larklife. At $149 that puts it in the higher end of the price range. It’s almost twice as much as the Jawbone, almost three times as much as Fitbit, but still comes in lower than the FuelBand.
So, is it worth the extra money? Let’s see, shall we?
From what I gather (it’s still not out yet at the time of this writing) it can do everything the Jawbone can. However, in addition to that, the Larklife will give you a push in the right direction when it sees fit.
For example, if you haven’t slept enough the night before, the app might recommend a protein-packed meal for breakfast as this has shown to increase concentration in those that are sleep deprived.
According to the company’s CEO, “In the background it’s as if you had your own personal fitness trainer, productivity coach and sleep coach all working together to give you the easiest way to improve at this moment.”
Impressive, that’s for sure.
So, there you have it as far as fitness tracking apps are concerned. They come with all kinds of bells and whistles and offer plenty of choice. If you’re looking for something cheap and simple (but still useful) I’d go with the FitBit. The Jawbone seems like the best value for the money.
Lastly, Larklife should be your pick if you need someone to keep you in line (even if it’s artificial intelligence). As for the FuelBand, well… given its price and features, I don’t think it stacks up to the rest. But in the end, only you can make that decision.