A little over a year ago, my friend Michelle and I read an article that Runner’s World published about the harmfulness of sitting. As Americans we sit and sit a LOT. Athletes think they’re given a pass because we’re active. As the article outlines though, just because we are active for a portion of the day doesn’t mean spending the rest of the day as a sedentary person isn’t harmful. If we’re only active when we’re purposefully active, sitting can be just as harmful to us as non-athletes. I’m lucky that my job allows me to spend time away from my desk, but I still spend a lot of time parked in my chair.
Enter now the world of fitness bands and trackers. There are so many on the market that trying to find the perfect one for you can be a little daunting. Michelle ended up with the Jawbone UP. She liked that it tracked her sleep (the sleep feature is probably the best that I’ve seen. It details how much light sleep vs. deep sleep you get per night and has a silent alarm) and seamlessly linked to her other apps like MapMyRun.
I went with the Garmin Vivofit. I’ve trusted my Garmin GPS watch for years so I had a little bit of brand loyalty built up. Also, mine runs off a watch battery so the battery will last up to a year. A YEAR. It connects with and stores your data with the Garmin Connect app, but the screen allows you to track your progress without looking at your phone. This is my favorite aspect of the Vivofit: at any time I can check my bracelet/watch and review my stats for the day. The display options include:
-Heart rate (I purchased the bundle with the heart rate monitor. I’ll get more into this in a minute)
-Steps remaining toward your goal
The Vivofit has only one button so it allows you to toggle between the screens, sync to the app and activate the sleep mode. I absolutely love the Vivofit as a basic fitness band. More in-depth information is below:
Ease of use/Basic Perks
I’ve never tested any of the other fitness bands, but the Vivofit is very easy to use once you learn what you’re doing.
-Battery life: up to one year
– One button to toggle through the display. Hold it down to sync or place in sleep mode.
– Water Resistant: some of the others are considered “splash resistant” but the Vivofit is water resistant up to 50m down. I wear it in the shower and plan to wear it when I swim and train for the tri.
It only tracks steps or anything where you swing your arm forward (similar to when you’re walking). For example, when I used the rowing machine at the gym it counted that as steps. If you swam, it would probably count it. However, no other cardio (like biking) is tracked. If you are inactive for an hour, a red bar appears. For each additional 15 minutes of inactivity afterward, another segmented red bar appears until you reach two hours. After that, it begins flashing at you to get moving. The flashing can get a bit distracting so it’s best to just start walking.
It doesn’t track your quality of sleep, only the time between when you place it in sleep mode and when you make it active again. The interesting thing is that it tracks how often you move in your sleep. I know people like having the information on their quality of sleep, but what do you do with that kind of information? I know my sleep depth and patterns are awful. I didn’t see the need to have my tracker tell me information I already knew and didn’t know how to change.
It’s a very basic display of information that’ll sync with MyFitnessPal to upload and track calories and your weight. Your progress is color coded: blue until you hit your goal, green after you meet it.
Your goal is set for you in the beginning based on your lifestyle (office job vs an active one, etc). As you continue to hit your goal, it increases.
The bundle I purchased included a heart rate monitor. While I’m an endurance athlete in decent shape with excellent cholesterol, my resting heart rate is still around 90. I know I can’t work to actively reduce my heart rate, but I like the option to monitor it. I also purchased a three pack of extra bands for added options. They offer a variety of different packs and Garmin is working on additional fashion packs.
As I mentioned, the Vivofit is basic but is everything I was looking for. I recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a no-frills fitness tracker that you can put on and never remove.