I’m a fan of fitness gadgets here at HelsBels. I love tracking my progress, how far I’ve run, what I’ve achieved and then I love looking at graphs. I don’t always wear a daily tracker though, despite having a Garmin Vivofit, I don’t always remember to wear it. I know that FitBit is really popular, so when Debenhams got in touch asking if wanted to try out the FitBit Charge HR and take on a 10k challenge, I said yes.
The FitBit Charge HR is a wearable fitness tracker, worn around your wrist. Stats tracked include steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, active minutes, stairs climbed and your heart rate. The FitBit syncs to your phone and sleep is also trackable. For the purposes of this review, I was sent a size large, in tangerine and it retails for £120.
Available in two sizes, the large size is to fit wrists of 16.5 – 19.4cm, with a small fitting 14 – 16.5cm. The box has a handy chart for you to measure your wrist against and there is crossover. I was initially concerned that the large would be too big, but it can be adjusted to a tighter fit.
The first thing I did was download the FitBit app to my phone, available from the App Store on iPhone, or Google Play on Android. It was easy to sync the FitBit to my phone using Bluetooth and then I customised my settings with weight, targets, etc. The app is brilliant – you can check your stats from the device on your wrist, or load up the app. You can also connect with friends and see how you’re doing on the leaderboard compared to others. Sleep monitoring is possible and if you’re trying to track food eaten versus exercise, you can also log your intake each day. It’s really easy to use and I like the way it’s done through the app as it’s so convenient using your phone instead of faffing with websites and USB cords.
One thing I found really interesting was tracking my heart rate. I was pleasantly surprised that my resting heart rate hovers round the 63bpm mark – perhaps I’m not as unfit as I previously thought? Your heart rate is tracked from the sensor in the device, so no fiddly chest straps to worry about and you can see it on the device or through the app. Debenhams suggested that I try running 10k to really test out the FitBit and as I was curious about my heart rate, I agreed.
So on Saturday, on a cold day in Bognor Regis, having being dancing all night at a stag do, I laced up my shoes and took to the sea front. I have to be honest here and say I bailed at about 9k – I was tired and delicate from the night before, but it gave the device a good test and it really helped build up my step count for the day.
The interesting thing about tracking heart rate is that FitBit doesn’t just tell you your BPM. It tells you at which point you’re in the cardio zone, which point you are fat burning and when you are in the “peak” zone. I don’t know much about exercise according to your heart rate, but perhaps this is something that I will investigate further. It took me 59:28 to cover the 9k with an average heart rate of 161 bpm. FitBeat tells me I spent most of my time in the cardio zone, with 12 minutes in peak.
I’m now interested in doing some more reading on training according to heart rate and will report back on this! I generally wear my Polar Watch to track my speed and distance, but usually leave the chest strap off as I find it constricts my breathing so it’ll be interesting to use the two devices in conjunction with each other.
Finally, a quick look at the feature I was most interested in – the sleep tracker. I seem to be an insomniac these days as I lie awake most of the night (or at least it feels like it) nudging my husband for snoring. I’m always tired so I was interested in discovering more about my quality of sleep. You wear the tracker overnight and in the morning, you can access your stats through the app and it tells you how long you’ve been asleep, how many times you’ve woken up and how restless you are.
As you can see, I was up very late dancing! My sleep target is set for 8 hours, so I’m not doing very well. Here’s a more detailed view:
This might explain why I often feel tired, although it’s better reading than I thought it might be! My only real criticism here is that the FitBit also has a calculation for your sleep quality, however it doesn’t show this through the app, which is a shame. The formula they use to calculate sleep efficiency is as follows:
100 * time asleep / (time asleep + time restless + time awoken during sleep)
Based on this, my sleep efficiency for the night shown above is 91% which doesn’t seem too bad, but I woke up shattered, so it’ll be interesting to monitor the trends there.
I’m looking forward to continuing the FitBit Charge. I got 5 days out of the first charge, which seems pretty decent and will hopefully encourage me to keep using it as it doesn’t need to be removed often. Being able to use it as a watch is also useful and it’s comfortable. It would be great to see the sleep efficiency calculation including within the app, but on the whole, this is a great little tool for those wanting to track their daily activity. At £120, it isn’t cheap, but if you want to track your heart rate on a day-to-day basis, this is an easy way of doing so and more convenient than a chest strap. For those not so fussed about the heart rate, the FitBit Flex is a cheaper option at just £55. I won’t be using the Charge to replace my GPS watches on runs, but will be using it as an everyday device and to use alongside my sports watches on runs.
Do you use a Fitbit? What are the main draws for you?
Device provided to me by Debenhams in return for a review.