Fitness tracking is one of the biggest fads in the fitness community at the moment and for good reason. The sensors have gotten accurate and cheap enough for the average consumer to be able to afford them. Smartphones, smartwatches and dedicated fitness wearables all have their place in getting healthy. While there are pros and cons, finding the one that is right for you doesn’t have to be a chore.
Phone vs. Wearable
A smartphone has a really good accelerometer, good enough that it can be used as a basic fitness tracker. For many, this level of tracking is good enough to use as a motivator for fitness goals, whether it’s about trying to get more steps in for the day or to use as an interface for a dedicated fitness or health app. The only downside to using a phone as your primary tracker is that a phone almost exclusively lives in your pocket, which can give a skewed view of your activity level. Worse yet, it can be left on a table while you do something active.
Wearable tech gets around this problem by always being attached to you, whether on your wrist like a bracelet or on your clothes like a more traditional pedometer. Wearables also have the added benefit of being able to be a dedicated service that runs all the time with different sensors depending on your needs. A heart rate monitor, for instance, is extremely useful if you are trying to improve your cardio. Heart rate monitors fit perfectly into a wearable and track in real time. While the fingerprint scanners on many smartphones are able to read your heart rate, this really is more akin to measuring your own pulse. Good to know, but you have to stop what you are doing to get a good reading.
Because one of the big selling points for wearables is the fitness tracking aspect, nearly every manufacturer has its own take on keeping you healthy.
The advantage of going with the smartphone version of the app is that any of them will work natively with the phone. Some of the more popular ones include Endomondo, Fitbit and S Health. Each of these are geared toward different ways to get you healthy. Endomondo is more tailored to runners and bikers who need a good way to track their distance and speed. Fitbit is a versatile app, and it can track things like steps and heart rate, working well with the Fitbit wearables. S Health is a more general tracking software that can do a little bit of everything.
Fitbit and S Health have the advantage of being able to connect to a wearable natively, with the Fitbit lineup and Samsung Gear S2 respectively. Where the Gear and S Health have an advantage is that Gear is a smartwatch-style wearable, meaning it can have apps added to it and work more independently compared to other wearables or smartphones.
Overall, what really matters is not the app or the tech but to remember that these are tools that you have to use.