Are you riding the health wearable wave of popularity?
Forecasters predict 2015 unit sales of health and fitness trackers will reach 8.5 million in the U.S. and 7.1 million in Western Europe.
As a usually late adapter, who knew I would be among the millions?
The image for this post is definitely not a caricature for me.
- I do not run. Ever. Okay, maybe I would if a wild animal was chasing me.
- I do not wear tank tops in public. Boomer arms.
- I walk. A lot.
Next month, I participate in my 12th 3-Day, 60-mile Walk for the Cure. That event, plus a need to rescue my unhealthy body, is what started my walking routine.
I now walk 6-7 miles, at least 5 days a week. The reason for my Fitbit purchase is to provide an incentive to reach my minimum 10,000 steps daily goal.
Obviously, when I walk 6-7 miles (or the 3-Day, 60-mile), achieving 10,000 steps is a snap. Cold weather makes that more of a challenge.
I wanted something to nudge (or nag) me into compliance. The reason I purchased the Fitbit now was so I can wear it on my 12th 3-Day Walk. It will be fun to see how many steps I rack up.
Why Charge HR
You have a million options for health and fitness trackers. And about a million will get you the Apple watch (perhaps a slight exaggeration).
I am familiar with Fitbit. I chose their Charge HR model for the following reasons.
- To track steps
- To monitor heart rate
- To receive sleep pattern information
The device also offers the following.
- Calorie count (I couldn’t care less)
- Exercise/workout tracking (for now, the steps tracking is enough for me)
- Caller ID notifications with compatible devices (uh, no)
- Silent, vibrating alarm ( I never need help waking up)
As a passionate defender of individual choice, I understand my choices may not be yours. So take the following review with a grain of salt and factor in my personal quirkiness.
Fitbit Charge HR Review
- I didn’t ask for it
- It was just there
- Like magic
I used that app for tracking steps. As far as I know, it does a good job of that. So why purchase the Fitbit?
This may come as a shock but I do not carry my smartphone with me everywhere. Yes, sometimes I am actually disconnected. *Gasp*
I do a lot of activity around our property. We have an acre of land and we just finished irrigation season. That means raking ditches, putting in gates, and hauling hoses. I wanted steps credit for all that hard work. With the Fitbit on my wrist, I get that.
I also wanted to check my heart rate and sleep activity. Hey, getting old here. The following is my early review of my Fitbit Charge HR.
The new device came with practically no juice. Kind of like purchasing a car with a nearly empty gas tank.
I charged the device. By the way, Fitbit sends a charging cable. I purchased one because I thought it was not included. My bad. Or boomer eyes missed the fine print – again.
- The Fitbit site says to expect 5 days use per charge
- I had to charge the device three times in five days
Like any device, there are functions that drain the battery more quickly.
- I turned off all notifications and features like tap gesture
- I turned off the auto heart rate tracking
- And still the battery drained
I contacted customer service. More about that later.
I compared steps from my Fitbit to my iPhone app. They were similar enough that I assume both are fairly accurate.
One statistic I found odd was the tracker’s floor counts. I do my walking outside and it does not include stairs. I do navigate some hills – nothing major. However, my floor count sometimes hits double digits.
Reviewing the site’s information that explains how this is calculated had me glazing over.
Fitbit trackers…use an altimeter to calculate…floors…climbed…the tracker calculates elevation gain based on the reduction in atmospheric pressure. Your tracker registers a floor when it detects continuous motion combined with an elevation gain of about 10 feet. 10 feet is an average between residential and commercial floor heights…
Huh? Good thing I am not tracking floors.
Sleep Sleight of Hand
You wear the tracker to bed and the next morning it delivers a sleep summary that includes time asleep, awake and the time you were restless (e.g., rolling over, moving).
It will also record your resting heart rate.
I had some issues with the information.
- Fake ZZZs – It’s easy to “fool” the tracker that you are sleeping when you are actually wide awake (simply lie really still)
- Nightmare – The graph for the heart rate has a wide range with only three markers – 12:00 AM, Noon, and 11:59 PM – making it difficult to tell if a spike was while I was sleeping or after I got up (I am an early riser – around 5:00 AM)
- Define efficiency – Again the site offers math stuff for calculating sleep efficiency but I question the credibility when the tracker is easily fooled.
Customer Service Save
Besides the rapidly draining battery, I encountered another problem with my device. I downloaded the Fitbit app to my iPhone, my Windows personal computer (PC), and my tablet.
- iPhone app works great – the PC and tablet, not so much
- I recently upgraded my PC and tablet to Windows 10
- The Fitbit suggestions for Windows 10 did not fix the problem
I had to send a tweet to support because I could not find a support link (except to the community) at Fitbit’s site. The Twitter account answered promptly with a link to online support.
I wrote about the draining battery. I explained I received notification when the device was fully charged the first time. I confirmed I turned off the battery-draining features but I still had to charge the device three times in five days.
I also mentioned the Windows 10 problem. I stated I had tried the suggestions from their site and was still having problems. When I try “sync now,” it tells me the device is not found.
- To make sure I had the charging cable properly connected to ensure it was fully charged (I guess the “fully charged” notification meant nothing)
- To review the Windows 10 suggestions by clicking on a link they provided (yep, to the same page of suggestions I told them I tried)
I sent two more follow-ups to the support ticket. Finally, someone who understands customer service quickly replied that she was sending a replacement device and suggested recycling the defective device. Helpful and eco-friendly, too. Thank you.
Test of Time
The real test will happen in the cold winter months. Will my Fitbit motivate me enough to hit mall walking or some other form of exercise to replace my 6-7 mile walks? Or will I be like so many other users and abandon the device after a few short months?
I hate following the crowd.
How about you? Do you have a health and fitness tracker? Is it pen and paper? Computer and keyboard? Clip-on or some other wearable device?
Big Stock Photo Credit (runner)
Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney or health care provider and cannot provide legal or health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel and visit your physician for health care issues.