That possibly pivotal moment approaches millions of minds at this time of year–when a New Year’s resolution to get fit and lose weight becomes paramount.
If you’re looking for a way to get the edge in 2015, the good news is that with wearable technology, it doesn’t have to break your bank.
Shelling out thousands to a personal trainer and joining the new gym down the street in 2015 may turn out to be old history, as we’re entering the year of a digital health revolution and the rise of fitness wearables.
Utilizing new and exciting wearable fitness devices that track and encourage healthier habits, the oyster of health has never been easier to crack than in the year ahead.
Applying this new technology, one of the easiest ways to begin is simple: Get plenty of sleep and go for a morning walk.
In my own 2014 wearable tech journey, I was surprised from the data. I discovered that a 30 minute walk peppered into a busy week, which I honestly never really considered to be worth the time, made a huge impact in stress-reduction and overall cognitive health.
Additionally, donning the pre-release version of the Fitbit SURGE this past December, whether I was camping, running, weight lifting, or practicing yoga—all roads led to increased mindfulness and behavioral improvements.
The explosion of fitness technology has made it easier than ever to achieve your fitness goals.
Through research, I’ve compiled a list of 13 fitness wearables worth wearing on your wrist in 2015:
Jawbone fitness tracker has beefed up its muscle for 2015. The functionality will recognize what kind of sport you’re playing, as well as your perspiration, hydration, and other biometrics. Jawbone also syncs with other third-party apps like MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. One demerit, however, is that it doesn’t have a screen to view your daily progress. The upside includes all-day heart-rate monitoring for a more comprehensive view into your daily habits. $179.99
Designed with exercise top of mind, the FitSmart does not provide sleep analytics, however, it is highly efficient at logging all your workouts. The Adidas miCoach provides simple and straightforward visual guidance to keep you on track with pace, distance, and stride. It also syncs wirelessly with the miCoach training and running app, which lets you set weekly goals and set up personalized training plans. $150.00
The Gear S display is huge. It has to be in order to fit all the applications from the catalogue as well as built in GPS for sports tracking. While ostentatious-looking, this smartwatch delivers the goods for exercise minded consumers with applications such as Nike+ Running that allows users to track runs and stay motivated while on the move without their smartphones. Adding in turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation, users can benefit from enhanced “S Voice” to complete tasks hands free, receive 24-hour news, and use “S Health” to stay fit. $299.00
Part cyborg, part human. Founded by former employees of both Microsoft and Apple, Moov is a virtual coach that tells you how to up your overall life game. Whether you’re running, walking, or swimming, the software is proprietary. AI tracks your movement and can help correct posture, boost your training program, and give encouragement when it “senses” you are most in need. $89.
Basis, recently purchased by Intel, was anti-climactic for me. The PEAK deploys top of the line heart rate measuring, perspiration sensing, and skin temperature recording. With all its features, the drawback to this watch is that it felt like it was made for a computer programmer, not an everyday person who wants to improve their health. After losing sync over 12 times, inaccurate heart rate data, and a battery life of less than 3 days, I shipped my PEAK back to San Francisco. With new planned updates, the PEAK will surely smooth out the edges, but we’ll all have to wait and see. $199.99
This female-targeted fitness tracker measures your activity, syncs with your smartphone, and allows you to compete with friends using a leaderboard. The Flash granularly tracks your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and sleep quality and duration. Simplistic in design and cost effective at $49.99, the Flash is essentially one large button you press to check out your progress toward a daily goal.
Named the “fitness super watch.” The Fitbit Surge blends smartwatch technology with top notch fitness, steps, sleep, and 24/7 heart rate tracking. While the iOS dashboard display for the electrocardiogram data is limited in detail, it does not have the sync issues found in its closest competitor, the new Basis PEAK. The SURGE comes in as my top fitness smartwatch in functionality and dependability for 2105, and with planned updates for spring, consumers will have even more data to drive new healthy habits. $249.99
A simpler activity band, the Vívosmart learns your current activity level, then assigns an attainable daily goal. As you meet your milestones, Vívosmart adjusts your goal for the next day, gradually nudging you towards a more active lifestyle. You can also join online challenges and connect, compete and compare with friends and family anywhere in the world. Heart rate requires a chest strap, which is less than optimal considering the available technology on the market. $149.00
Half PC half fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band is powered by Microsoft Health—creating a closed API system which does not play well with other apps outside of its control. BAND helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn and sleep quality. It also helps productivity with email previews and calendar, text, call, calendar and email alerts in addition to fit perks like GPS tracking, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. Great watch for PC lovers. $199.99
This stylish and upscale smartwatch syncs with the Health Mate app, where you can learn specialized info based on your steps, activity, and sleep patterns. The bonus features include setting custom reminders for yourself throughout the day and comprehensive sleep monitoring. Priced at $450.00, this will deter the toe-dippers and yield green lights to only the serious wearable tech enthusiasts.
Priced at $269.00 the TomTom Runner Cardio is more expensive than the Adidas miCoach Fit Smart, which also has a built-in heart-rate monitor. The miCoach is not recommended for use during swimming, whereas the TomTom can dive up to 165 feet. Trade off: No sleep tracking for the TomTom.
A fitness focused watch, Reign has the heart of a fitness enthusiast and the fashion appeal of a Versace model. Reign measures the variability in time between each heart beat (Heart Rate Variability – HRV). Reign’s propriety patented technology also can detect patterns of fatigue or recovery. The downside is that you have to manually touch and hold the bracelet to get a solid HRV reading. The Jaybird Reign puts unique functionality into an all-day activity tracker and mobile app, but it ignores other basic features that make fitness wearables truly powerful. $199.99
Apple’s smartwatch is already scaring away the smaller tech companies looking to get into the wearable market. Launching in “early 2015,” it will shape the industry and furthermore, it will shape investments which will lead to a mass adoption of wearable technology globally.
As the world waits for the coveted Apple Watch, the opening price tag of $349 and iPhone data-exclusivity might be more of a hurdle than most can scale.
With detailed product reviews being limited, and rumors of a closed/selective API system with high garden walls keeping your data in the Apple ecosystem, consumers will have to decide if they want to join what some are calling the “darkside” of data ownership in trade for seamlessness.
In October 2014, Apple pulled all Fitbit devices from its shelves. The move, similar to the reported plan to remove all Bose audio products, further solidifies the posturing of Apple as the top authority in wearable technology.
It’s So Easy?
Seamlessness and ease-of-use for fitness wearables have been the barrier to entry for most, and in 2015, consumers will have more choices than ever before.
The digital health revolution has millions adopting new ways of getting fit, and with its tipping point far from visibility, it is entirely possible that consumers might opt for less expensive and open-API driven app-to-wearable solutions for the New Year.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, have more mojo for the kids, or increase muscle mass, what’s exciting is that there are more than 20 large companies who are pushing the limits of how wearable fitness technology can serve humanity.
When business and health form synergy to help each other, amazing things can happen.
About the author: Josh Trent, NASM-CES, CPT, HLC, is a corrective exercise specialist and participatory sports technology expert with over 9 years in the fitness industry. His passion is to accelerate wellness evolution through the power of the Digital Health and Quantified Self movements. You can follow himon Twitter @wellnessforce, or through his website www.wellnessforce.com.
The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.