They are absolutely everywhere right now, little rubbery things you wear on your wrist or arm to measure your activity. But trust us, quality varies. Before you shell out, read our honest reviews – we’ve tried a few
1. FITBIT FLEX, £79.99
The Flex is the new wireless activity and sleep wristband from Fitbit, who also produce the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. As well as steps, distance and calories, the new feature is ‘Active Minutes’ which allows users to know how many moderate-intensity cardio minutes they have done in one day. Logging in your height and weight gives you a calculates your goal, although these can be adjusted, and the bars and graphs on the corresponding app display this information in a user-friendly way, in terms of daily completion. You are also emailed a weekly log. Displayed on the wristband are five led lights, each representing a fifth of your steps. Double-tapping the wristband gives you a display of the lights, and when you hit your target, the band will vibrate to let you know (you’re also sent a congratulatory notification on your phone). When you’re using the sleep mode, which tracks your peaceful and restless moments during the night, the vibrations will also wake up at the time you set it to. You can also log in your diet using the database of food and calories, your water in take, and your weight. The Fitbit Flex is waterproof and has a battery life of up to five days. What I like best about it is that, without sounding too emotionally attached, it’s like an encouraging friend. It doesn’t nag and shout if you don’t hit your goals, and you never felt like you’ve disappointed it – instead it sends little ‘You can do it!’ notifications when you were nearing your goal, which made you want to hit your target that much more.
PRO : The FitBit is wireless, connecting to your phone and laptop via Bluetooth, and your information is updated constantly, with no need to plug in. It is apparently the only app on the market to offer the user such access to stats on the go.
CON : The material used to make the Fitbit Flex picks up a lot of dirt, which after a week meant it started to look quite grubby. If I were you, I’d go for the black one.
Healthista rating : 4.5/5
2. KIFIT ARMBAND (see pricing below)
Ki Fit is the Rolls Royce of body monitors but it does have a price tag to match. Called an ‘accelerometer’, it measures the total sum of all your movement to get an accurate picture of your energy burn. It’s an armband you wear all day and night. Popular with athletes and with serious science behind it, it’s the most accurate activity monitor on the market today, measuring activity, calories burned and consumed, steps taken and even sleep quality.
You can narrow down your calorie burn to any minute of any day in the readout you get online. Plus, it doesn’t require any pre-programming. The information is stored in your own personal monitoring system online so you can track your progress down to the last calorie burned. Users report being surprised at how many calories are burned doing everyday activities such as washing up or walking from the bus stop. In trials, people using the Ki Fit armband lost three times more weight than those that didn’t. Read more kiperformance.co.uk .
Prices are subject to change but now, it costs £268.99 for a Ki Armband and 12-month subscription. This is £99.99 plus 11 monthly payments of £16.50 for a Ki Armband and 12-month subscription.
PRO: It’s the most precise of all the monitors and you can gauge activity to the minute. It’s used by athletes and scientists and clinically proven.
CON: It’s expensive
Healthista rating: 4.5/5
3. NIKE+ FUELBAND, £129
It’s taken the body monitor world by storm and we are not surprised. The Nike Fuelband is affordable and provides enough activity information to keep you coming back each day and getting more and more competitive both with your own activity levels and those of other people…
It records steps, obv. along with hours won which is a measure of how many hours you have moved around continuously for five minutes or more. It also records ‘Fuel’ which is Nike’s own measure of activity apart from steps (I – Anna Magee, healthista ed – find this confusing as not sure what to measure it against…) plus calories burned. You can also become part of a Nike Fuelband community on Facebook where you results become public and you can compete with other people (er, no) and programme in your own workout types to compare results on different days. You can set yourself goals which is great as it does a little light show on your wrist when you reach them (I was almost expecting a marching band when it first happened ). The best bit for me is a little embarrassing: if you have been sitting non-stop for an hour it lights up with a message of ‘Go Anna’ on your wrist for about ten seconds until you gather the wherewithal to get up and move around. Useful but embarrassing in meetings.
PRO: It’s superbly easy, reasonably affordable and plugs into your computer through USB.
CON: It’s not as accurate as say, a Ki Fit – then again, it’s not as expensive.
Healthista rating: 4/5
4. SCOSCHE RHYTHM PULSE, £80
The Scosche Rhythm Pulse band is designed to manage, track and analyse your workouts. Worn around the upper arm, it combines two alternating LEDs with a photo sensor to accurately measure the user’s pulse. It has a built in acclelerometer, which in human terms means it can adjust for movement and can measure calories burned (although sometimes this seemed a little inaccurate), speed, pace, route and distance. Together with the app, which is easily to set up and connect, everything is synced and logged with your phone in realtime via Bluetooth. A male or female voice will prompt you with your progress, so you know how close you are to accomplishing goals, or if you’ve moved outside your desired target heart rate zone.
The band syncs with your phone’s calendar which is handy if you want to keep track of your frequency, and with Maps so that if you’re a runner, you can retrace routes in future. Workout history can be viewed in terms of Lifetime, Last Year, Last Month and Last Week. The music on your mobile device can also be controlled using the buttons on the Rhythm Pulse. Easy graphs on the device display show pulse and pace set against time. As well as on the app, all data is stored in the cloud of the Scosche website which allows for more in-depth analysis and if you wish, your achievements can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.
PRO: One great thing about the Rhythm Pulse is that you can add specific ‘activities’ during your workout so that later you can directly compare different sessions of, say, Zumba, on different days.
CON: With a battery life of only five hours, you can only use the band whilst working out, rather than to log your lifestyle patterns like other bands.