I’m not a detailed person. I’m a doer, not a planner, so I typically forgo food journals, to-do lists, etc. I realize these techniques work for some people, but they’re just a distraction for me.
I’m also not a fad guy. I like my iPhone and my Surface Pro, and I enjoy technology, but I won’t stand in line any longer than it takes to get my hair cut just to buy whatever Earth-shattering new gadget has the internet in hysterics this week.
Having said all that, however, I recently bought one of the first Fitbit Charge HR fitness trackers, and I’ll tell you why I’m happy I did.
1. Radial Pulse Heart-Rate Monitoring
I’d been wanting a fitness heart-rate monitor for some time but was not thrilled at the idea of wearing a rubber strap around my torso all day.
I wanted one that I could wear on my wrist, and before the Fitbit Charge, one did not exist to my knowledge.
I’ve had my Charge HR since January of 2015. While I never need fitness motivation, I find myself thinking more about my daily fitness goals and my activity level throughout the day.
The radial pulse (wrist) heart monitor makes all traceable data more accurate. While other fitness trackers estimate stats based on movement, the Charge records everything based on your heart rate.
This is how it’s able to more accurately define calories burned, exercise zones, sleep patterns, etc.
2. Tracking Sleep Patterns
I was surprised at how accurately the HR tracked my sleep patterns. By recording my resting heart rate, the HR knows when I fall asleep, but even more interesting is that it also knows how long I slept, how many times I woke up during the night, and any periods when I was restless.
We’ve written about insomnia and the importance of sleep many times in the past, so this data is particularly helpful for anyone suffering from sleep disturbances because you can observe the effectiveness of any changes you’re making to improve sleep quality.
3. Tracking Calories Burned
I’m not a calorie counter, but based on my heart rate, the HR is able to give a more detailed rundown of the calories I burn each day, and I use that info to gauge my activity level.
I simply set my daily calorie goal, and the device notifies me through vibration when I’ve reached it.
I’ve found that doing this does keep me active because I’ll never reach my calorie target if I sit working on my computer all day.
I have to be at least moderately active or make time for a high-intensity exercise session to achieve it.
4. Battery Life
One of the great qualities of the Charge HR is that it will continue recording data based on your resting heart rate if you ever choose to remove it.
This prevents you from having to start at zero once you put it back on. The stats won’t be completely accurate, but you won’t be starting over, either.
Battery life depends on how often you trigger the display screen, but I generally need to charge the device about every 4-5 days.
The Fitbit HR is reasonably comfortable and splash resistant, but you’re not supposed to wear it in the shower or the pool while you can get it wet.
5. Exercise Session Breakdown
Fitness freaks like me will appreciate the ability to compile and break down data from specific workout sessions.
I simply trigger the “track exercise” function on my device when I begin and press the button again when I’m finished.
I can then see how many calories I burned, which heart-rate zones I was in and for how long, how far I walked, how many flights of stairs I climbed, etc.
This is a great way to see a snapshot of your workouts so you can tailor them to your needs and goals easily, as well as determine what’s working for you and what isn’t.
6. The Fitbit App
All stats collected by the Charge are synced with my iPhone app via Bluetooth. You can also follow and compete with other Fitbit users via the app to challenge one another.
There is much more to see on the Fitbit app than on the device itself.
Everything is broken down into charts and graphs that make everything easy to analyze.
The main dashboard shows the day’s calories burned, steps are taken, current heart rate, miles walked, floors climbed, active minutes, and sleep data for the previous night.
Each category then breaks down into hourly/daily/weekly summaries.
7. Fitbit ChargeHR Cons
Overall, I’m very happy with my Fitbit HR and would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their fitness or make exercise a bigger part of their life.
There are a couple of minor issues with it, but they wouldn’t keep me from repurchasing one.
First, the Fitbit band needs to be cleaned regularly. This is more of a user responsibility than a manufacturing defect, however.
I have noticed a rash/skin irritation on my wrist several times after sweating heavily during my workout and then forgetting to rinse it off afterward.
Second, there were two instances in which the battery suddenly drained, and the unit shut down for no apparent reason, forcing me to plug it in and restart it to boost it back to life. This has not happened since the first month after purchase.
The Fitbit Charge HR is not the only Fitbit tracker. There are many others (one that provides a GPS tracker for runners and cyclists) and many other uses like keeping a food journal and the Fitbit community where you can discuss exercise, lifestyle, diet, etc., but I have not utilized these.
All in all, this is one technology that gets my full support as far as making people more conscious and effective in their quest for better fitness.
Gary has many years experience as a healthcare writer covering different types of medicine. His work is published by many different companies including the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACA).