Fitbit Giude: Choosing the Right One for You

Since Fitbit introduced its first wearable connected fitness tracker in 2009, the popularity of wearable activity trackers has grown. Worldwide, 2014 sales of digital fitness trackers are estimated to be more than 22 million, according to research firm Parks Associates. Fitbit products dominate the market, accounting for 40 percent of these sales.

The popularity of wearable tracking devices may come from the psychological effect. Users compete with themselves and friends to build up their number of steps taken or miles traveled, making physical activity a game. Climbing a flight of stairs, moving swiftly through the aisles of a grocery store and taking a parking spot at the far end of a parking lot become ways to accumulate steps and miles, the equivalent of earning points.

Fitbit offers four models for tracking everyday activities: Fitbit Zip, Fitbit One, Fitbit Flex and Fitbit Charge. Athletes who wish to monitor heart rates may wish to upgrade to the Charge HR or Surge, but for tracking daily movement, the Zip, One, Flex and Charge are good options.

Fitbit Zip

The Fitbit Zip isn’t much bigger than a nickel and can be discreetly clipped to clothing. It is the lowest priced tracker of the Fitbit line ($59.95), making it a good choice for a first-time user. It comes in five different colors and is powered by a watch battery, which needs replacing approximately every six months. Zip measures steps, distance and calories burned. It wirelessly syncs to computers and many mobile phones. The free dashboard allows users to log food consumed and workouts, set goals and share information with friends. The sturdy rubber case protects the Zip from rain, splashes of water and sweat.

Fitbit One

Fitbit One is a clip-on device that comes with a wristband for use while sleeping. In addition to offering the features of a Zip, the One measures stairs climbed, hours of sleep and quality of sleep, including how many times the wearer wakes during the night. It features a vibrating alarm function to wake the user without disturbing a sleep partner. Fitbit One ($99.95) is powered by a rechargeable battery. The battery needs recharging approximately every five days. The Fitbit One comes in two colors and is rain, splash and sweat proof.

Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Flex is a slender wristband offered in 10 different colors. It tracks movement during waking hours and sleep patterns. Users set goals via their Fitbit dashboard, accessible by computer or smartphone. An LED display of five lights indicates a user’s progress towards a goal, with each light representing 20 percent progress. The device vibrates when a goal for the day has been achieved. Flex measures steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, number of active minutes, hours slept and quality of sleep. Flex is water resistant and may be worn while showering. It is powered by a rechargeable battery that holds a charge for five days.

Fitbit Charge

Fitbit Charge is the newest addition to Fitbit’s line of daily activity trackers. It is a wristband model, slightly thicker than the Flex band, with the same features as the Flex with the addition of a caller ID function. This function allows users to see who is calling by checking their wrist. It also has a watch and display, so you can view daily stats and the time of day directly from the band. The Charge features an extended life battery, which holds a charge up to 10 days. Fitbit Charge is water resistant, but Fitbit recommends removing the device before showering.  

These devices are new enough that extensive studies have not yet been conducted to determine their effectiveness in improving users’ fitness levels. In a Journal of the American Medical Association viewpoint piece, doctors with the Philadelphia VA Hospital expressed their belief that wearable trackers may facilitate behavior changes for those already determined to get fit, but they may not provide motivation to those who are not committed to adopting healthy habits.

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