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Do you use a Fitness Tracker.. would you recommend it?

changeisnowwchangeisnoww Posts: 15Member Member Posts: 15Member Member
I am umming and arring about getting a fitness tracker.. which do you think is good to use. I want it to track my steps and for jogging..
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  • ElizabethKalmbachElizabethKalmbach Posts: 1,118Member Member Posts: 1,118Member Member
    I absolutely love my fitness trackers and the variety of records they keep for me. I have a jenga tower of health issues that require me to track a lot of stuff, and the tracker makes it all a lot easier.

    That said, I've had many Fitbits, and they do a great job, but the hardware is somewhat more delicate then my lifestyle seems to allow for, so I break them once or twice a year. They're on the expensive side, so I stopped getting them after a while. They have a great app with useful tie-in's to other apps, though, and they do a perfect job of estimating my calories.

    I am currently on my third iteration of Mi Band. It's Chinese, and doesn't really connect to any app other than Google Fit. However, I LOVE the advanced features, and the low price of the hardware, and the accuracy of the tracking. I have to port the information myself, but I really only need to do that occasionally when I'm trying to troubleshoot my health changes. My daily activity is so steady that just using the tracker to eyeball trending is enough for me to make occasional adjustments to MFP as needed.

    Garmin appears to be a favorite brand around here, and they seem to also have fairly accurate data. I have not had one, but assume my utilization would be much the same as the other two I favor.

    My android phone will also track almost everything my fitness tracker does, but I don't like having to carry it in my pocket all the time. Women's fitness gear suffers from a dearth of pockets, so it's not always a practical solution for me, even if it is economical.

    There are many great solutions out there. You may need to dabble a bit and consider your personal priorities before making a final decision.
  • ElizabethKalmbachElizabethKalmbach Posts: 1,118Member Member Posts: 1,118Member Member
    Maybe start by listing the things you would want the fitness tracker to *do* for you. Do you want one that also acts as a watch? Do you want one that updates MFP automatically? Do you want one with many features like text message display, or do you literally just want something low key that you can accidentally run through the wash and still have it update your stats via bluetooth? What kind of smart phone do you plan to link the tracker to? There's a lot to think about, so take your time and make lists!
  • lorrpblorrpb Posts: 10,756Member Member Posts: 10,756Member Member
    Half or three quarters of people on here are addicted to their fitness trackers. Me, not as much as I used to be. It was very motivating for steps the first few years of my journey. I went through several Fitbit Ones til they stopped making them. Now I use a Garmin Vivoactive3 I got a great deal on used. I like it for bike rides and swims. It tracks steps too but I’m less focused on that now. It has a lot of other features I don’t use.
    edited November 8
  • sammidelvecchiosammidelvecchio Posts: 656Member Member Posts: 656Member Member
    I have a Garmin vivofit HR and I love it. The app is easy to use and I especially like the sleep tracker. It does a good job of recording "active minutes" and it gives you realistic goals and automatically adjusts them as you progress. It also doubles as a watch, and is a normal size so it doesn't look big and bulky on my wrist. I bought a refurbished one on amazon and it was really affordable, and waterproof!!
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 12,486Member Member Posts: 12,486Member Member
    If you get one, it's important to clarify your needs before choosing. (Elizabeth's post includes some good things to consider. Another question is whether you want one that offers full functions when you don't have your phone with you, i.e., stores a meaningful amount of data until you're back in the phone's Bluetooth range. I'm sure there are other points, too.)

    But IMO it's also important to understand two key things:

    1. Fitness trackers only estimate calories, they don't measure them. Like any other estimating method, the good ones are close for most people, a bit off for a few (high or low), and materially off for a very, very few. That's how statistical estimates work. Within good-quality, well-respected brands, the question "are they accurate for calories" is the wrong question, really, just like the "is MFP accurate for calorie goals" question. The question is really more how average the person is, not how accurate the device is. Fortunately, most people are pretty average! ;)

    They're also likely to be better at estimating exercise activity calories for some things vs. others, too, given the nature of what they actual can measure (and then use in their estimates). Fancy ones will have GPS, some kind of altimeter, ways to detect arm movement or maybe impact, heart rate, and that sort of thing. Some of those measurable things are pretty good proxies for estimating calories for some activities, and some aren't. Part of the implication of this is that devices that ask you what activity you're doing have the potential to be more accurate at estimating exercise calories.

    2. Accurate profile settings make a difference. The usual demographic stuff is easy (age, weight, etc.), but do remember to keep those up to date. Others that can matter a good bit are stride length (if you do a good bit of walking), and max heart rate (the age-estimated max that most use as default are inaccurate for many people).

    You can check stride length by walking a fairly long measured distance (high school or gym track, stay) at a moderate everyday pace, counting your steps, and figuring out the average stride length from that.

    For max heart rate, there are self-tests you can do, but I do not recommend an actual max test, where you literally try to top out your heart rate, until you have a reasonable fitness base and clearance from your doctor. A medical stress test may not provide your actual max heart rate (they stop the test when they get the data they need, without concern for true max). There are sub-maximal effort tests you can find online (choose one from a reputable source) that will give you a better estimate than 220-age or the like. Wait to do that until you have a reasonable fitness base.

    If the device has self-tests for fitness or VO2max or that sort of thing, follow the device's directions and do the test, when your fitness is up to it (they're pretty achievable if you're moderately active). If I recall correctly, mine wanted something like a minimum 15 minute walk at a brisk pace, using one's own definition of "brisk".

    Personal experience, which will be wordy; feel free to skip it (I'm including it because it might help you think about your needs):

    I have a Garmin Vivoactive 3. I like it very much. I always wear a wrist watch (boomer! ;) ) and this one is sturdy, not huge enough to be annoying, plus doesn't make me look like some kind of Delta Force commando. (Nor does it look like jewelry; my aging eyes need to be able to read it!). I abuse it physically, and it holds up well (I've had it for a couple of years). It charges fast, and will hold adequate charge for a couple of days. (Usually putting it on the charger when I'm in the shower is enough, or close.)

    It tracks the activities I do most often pretty well: It tracks and maps my on-water rowing, giving me GPS-based distance and split (pace) timings, plus estimates of strokes per minute, and I can look at that data correlated with my heart rate. For rowing, I need a chest belt (pairs via Ant+) because the wrist-based monitor loses contact due to too much arm flexing. (The wrist-based monitor works fine for other activities.) I like it for my casual cycling, canoeing, walking, etc., and use it for calorie estimates for spin class (best option I have, not perfect for intervals). It will count reps/sets for many strength training exercises, which is imperfect but workable.

    I like the tracking of resting heart rate, something I care about for fitness/health reasons, and as far as I can tell, it's reasonably accurate. (I used to do first thing in the AM readings periodically before I got it, and it's pretty consistent with that. It also tracks pretty well with instant readings of HR at the doctor's office.)

    Its sleep tracking is laughable, and what I've read about research on these devices (not just my model, but the whole gamut) suggests that they're not that reliable at tracking sleep. Mine frequently believes I'm in REM sleep when I'm awake reading or texting (for long time stretches, not just moments!), and will miss short (few minute) wake intervals at night if I don't move.

    For me, the all-day calorie estimates are inaccurate, by about the same percentage that MFP and other so-called "calculators" are inaccurate, because for some reason(s), I seem to be non-average. It underestimates my calorie needs by a significant amount, as compared with 5+ years of logging and weight data. I don't care. If I wanted to use its, I think it is off by roughly the same percent day to day, so I could adjust and use it. I don't synch it to MFP, which would add needless complexity, but I do use it to estimate calories for some forms of exercise.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 9,381Member Member Posts: 9,381Member Member
    I think the main question for most of them is whether you're a numbers and data person.

    Since you said running, is it important to be able to finish a specific distance (5k, 10k, whatever) in a set time? Do you want to run to a pace? If yes to that kind of thing, Garmin is fantastic.

    If no to all of this, it's a $100+ number generator.

    I have an expensive Garmin, it has maps which can be very useful when I hike, it also talks to my power meter, etc. I don't pay attention to the steps, or the background heart rate, those aren't useful to me.
  • ShortgirlrunningShortgirlrunning Posts: 326Member Member Posts: 326Member Member
    I have a Garmin forerunner 35 and I love it for tracking my runs. Most runners I know seem to have gone for a Garmin watch. It’s more accurate in tracking my pace and distance than the phone app I was using.

    I don’t actually find it super useful for my weight loss goals though. I lost my first 50 lbs without any sort of fitness tracker. Though I have been paying more attention to my steps and how many calories it says I burn (it seems to be pretty accurate). It’s fun to have the data but totally not necessary for me to lose weight.
  • middlehaitchmiddlehaitch Posts: 8,150Member Member Posts: 8,150Member Member
    I’ve never used one. I did a 1month trial of one a few years ago and found it wasn’t something I wanted.

    That being said I am not a numbers spreadsheet type of person, and my workouts are simple, but varied, so it was easy for me to use the MFP estimates and then compare them against my personal data.
    That, perceived performance improvement, and a mirror to check progress does me fine.

    If you are more competitive, race, etc, you may need/want more detailed data.

    If you love spreadsheets and comparing progress you may like having all that info on hand.

    It really is up to the individual.

    I lost and have maintained 10yr without one and every Christmas I dread my son, who loved his Fitbit and now Apple Watch, is going to proudly present me with some kind of device. (I think he has got the hint that I’m not interested by now :)).

    Just thought I’d add in a none user for the alternate view.

    Cheers, h.
    edited November 9
  • jm_1234jm_1234 Posts: 25Member Member Posts: 25Member Member
    I recommend, but it depends on the features you need. I like the Garmin Vivosmart 4 ($99) as a basic entry level watch - https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/605739

    Outside of activity tracking I like the sleep and stress features as well as the style and size of the watch.

    A few things to consider is if it has built in GPS, heart rate monitoring, and the app features.
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    A) You don't absolutely need it, you can just carry your phone. If you want HR, you can buy a (Wahoo fitness) HR strap.

    B) I bought one anyway. A Garmin Vivoactive 3. It has worked very well and I don't regret it at all. The 3 is on sale right now because the 4 just came out.

    Fitbit was just bought by Google and will likely go through some changes in the near future.
  • Gisel2015Gisel2015 Posts: 2,848Member Member Posts: 2,848Member Member
    I second @middlehaitch

    Never used one nor I am interested in getting one. My workouts and goals don't need to be tracked with a lot of precision. I only keep track of the minutes that I spend doing my workouts, not the calories.

    I am not a number person, and if I need to keep track of my fitness, I would prefer to use a spreadsheet. I just don't like gadgets and I don't even wear a regular wrist watch anymore, and my cell phone and I don't have a close relationship either.

    I have been in steady maintenance for 9 years without a fitness tracker, so there is no reason to get one now. I agree that is a personal choice, and you may need to try one to see if that is what you want to have. I don't want to be a downer, but you asked, and I am sure that you are interested in a variety of opinions.
  • HufflepuffGrl9HufflepuffGrl9 Posts: 110Member Member Posts: 110Member Member
    I lost 100+ lbs & my FitBit was a wonderful motivation for me!! I especially enjoyed the steps competitions/challenges you could do with fellow users. I still use it to this day! It’s a really & enjoyable way for me to stay on track. I have a very physical job & enjoy exercise on top of it, so it’s exciting seeing how many steps I am getting. 💪🤩💖
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 9,381Member Member Posts: 9,381Member Member
    jm_1234 wrote: »
    I recommend, but it depends on the features you need. I like the Garmin Vivosmart 4 ($99) as a basic entry level watch - https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/605739

    Outside of activity tracking I like the sleep and stress features as well as the style and size of the watch.

    A few things to consider is if it has built in GPS, heart rate monitoring, and the app features.

    It's scary how well the stress feature works!
  • adotbabyadotbaby Posts: 159Member Member Posts: 159Member Member
    Personally, I don't want to have one. It is reported they emit radiofrequency, and I'd rather not expose myself to that strapped on me 24/7.
  • moonangel12moonangel12 Posts: 187Member, Premium Member Posts: 187Member, Premium Member
    adotbaby wrote: »
    Personally, I don't want to have one. It is reported they emit radiofrequency, and I'd rather not expose myself to that strapped on me 24/7.
    I actually have had a nagging thought in the back of my head about what it’s doing while strapped to my body (didn’t know exactly what technology they used) - when I first started wearing my Fitbit I only wore it at night (mainly got it for sleep tracking) and had issues with a dull ache in my wrist. I stopped wearing it for a while, then picked it back up a couple of months ago when I started this WL journey... I had been looking at fancier options, but recently started backtracking and thinking of a chest strap HR monitor to use as needed.

  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 9,381Member Member Posts: 9,381Member Member
    Chest strap isn't useful for weight loss.
  • moonangel12moonangel12 Posts: 187Member, Premium Member Posts: 187Member, Premium Member
    Chest strap isn't useful for weight loss.
    This is what I am still figuring out :p

    ETA: What are the advantages of a fitness tracker for weight loss vs. the chest strap. It might be blaringly obvious, but I had Benadryl last night so still working through that brain fog this morning :D I know mine has been a fun motivator, and thanks to my nerdy husband (said with love and affection) I do enjoy the numbers and graphs and things.

    edited November 12
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    ETA: What are the advantages of a fitness tracker for weight loss vs. the chest strap. It might be blaringly obvious...

    It wasn't obvious to me at all! I bought a wahoo fitness chest strap and used it with the wahoo fitness app for a long time. It worked well for indoor/outdoor running/cycling. But, you have to remember to put the strap on and some people find it uncomfortable. The Garmin watch can be carried all the time, has good battery life, tracks many different activities as well as sleep and steps, and tracks swimming, which I do. So, I've liked it a lot.
  • habitualmanhabitualman Posts: 2Member Member Posts: 2Member Member
    Looked into Fitbit and Garmin vivos but ended up going with a HR chest strap and I love it way more. More accurate for calories burned and I only where it 1 hour a day
  • earlnabbyearlnabby Posts: 7,539Member Member Posts: 7,539Member Member
    I am umming and arring about getting a fitness tracker.. which do you think is good to use. I want it to track my steps and for jogging..

    For your use, you do not have to get anything fancy or expensive. I have a Garmin Vivofit 2 (I believe the 4 is the closest equivalent available now) and it does exactly what I need. I want to track steps and miles and sync with MFP, as well as function as a wristwatch. I also need one that I can wear in the pool. I chose to not get the optional HRM because those are not accurate enough to tell me anything different than the info I am already getting. I especially like the fact that it runs on a watch battery so there is no charging, I changed the batteries about 3 years after purchase and haven't needed to since.

    I did buy a fancy-schmancy band for it so it looks more like a watch than a tracker.
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