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Tracking time

'Tis the season of what to get or what do I want. It’s also the time when many will begin rethinking movement, their physical health and setting new goals.

I’ve always loved watches. That may seem a bit of an odd transition coming off of that lead, but I’m speaking of the fanciness with which one adorns their wrist. Better yet, at one point in my life I even owned a watch ring. A watch has been and continues to be an ideal gift for yours truly. Well, until last year.

Last year I received an Apple Watch as a birthday gift and since then, my other watches/fitness trackers have now found their way to a drawer. In all honesty, I never saw this coming and I’ve never really been one to “count steps” or participate in such challenges. Up until about a year ago I found it a bit silly that people found joy each day in sharing how many steps they had taken with one another.

I guess I was old school in that way. You either get up and work out several days a week or you don’t, but counting steps (aka walking)? This notion simply puzzled me. 

What did once puzzle me was brought into perspective one day as I overheard an older couple walking past our office. Both walking at a bit of an accelerated pace, one asking the other how their “steps” were for the day. As I listened, I heard one share with the other how the steps they were once proud of, they now needed to increase. It seemed they were a part of a family “step challenge” and were seeking the coveted lead position.

Okay, so as a person who believes in the positive effects of movement on not only the body, but the mind and spirit, this caught my attention and quite literally changed my outlook. In short, I’m converted. It was truly that simple.

So, looking to this issue it seemed fitting to share what I have learned through my network of friends, everyday people, on what they use and how they like it. I should also note here that there is no endorsement deal with any manufacturer of any of the varying brands. Prior to receiving my Apple Watch I was/am a faithful Garmin user. While I rely mostly on my Apple Watch, my Garmin Forerunner 235 is my hands down go to when training for an upcoming marathon or half marathon. Using the Strava App on my smart phone helps me store all the info and stats regardless of which tracker I use to train.

In summary from all which I learned, the Fitbit still seems to hold a large corner of the market by way of use, affordability and functionality. While many of my friends were also Garmin, as well as Apple Watch users, the price point of the Fitbit seemed to be a true determining factor overall.

…as a person who believes in the positive effects of movement on not only the body, but the mind and spirit, this caught my attention and quite literally changed my outlook. In short, I’m converted. It was truly that simple.
T. Hammond

Size was also noted as a contributing factor for some. The Garmin Vivofit, as well as the Fitbit Alta were both given a thumbs up for their slim size.

Other notable features which people deemed important were heart rate, battery life, accuracy of distance, challenge capability, calorie count, as well as communication ability (i.e.: phone calls and text messages). All three of the brands mentioned offer a series which offer these options.

Personally, all of my Garmins have the communication ability, typically speaking when using any of the three to workout, especially on a long run, that feature is disabled. Fortunately, that’s at the discretion of the operator. 

In the way of battery life, something important to note for the novice is no two seem to be the same. I purchased the Vivofit for both my partner, as well as my daughter. The battery on those runs for one year and then we replace, whereas my Garmins are charged by way of USB port, as is my Apple Watch. Battery life on those depends on length of use in terms of activity or running multiple programs. Things to consider if gifting to someone who will not want to take the time to charge or re-charge a tracker.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I did not address the topic of style, as it seems to matter just as much as the rest of it. Many of the traditional watchband-type trackers offer band options, which aid the flexibility by way of style. Apple would be the winner in this category, personally speaking. As a watch lover, I have multiple bands taking the watch from sporty to stylish, given any occasion. The Garmin as well as Fitbit lines also offer band options, while the Garmins seem a bit more on the sporty side (unless you’re looking Vivomove), the Fitbit seems to have more of the middle of the road/neutral band style.

In short, my advice is pretty simple. Before making the investment, know what matters most to you or the person you’re gifting. How will the tracker be used and how much are you willing to spend? The good news is, this is not a passing trend. The fitness tracker market continues to grow and as it does more information, as well as options are available. Also, keep in mind that with the holiday season comes the “newest/greatest” model. There is nothing wrong with the series before it and likely it can save you a bit of money, so consider it.

In the end, the benefits of this gift that keeps on giving will outweigh all else, both physically and figuratively.