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Fitness Trackers/Smart watches - recommendations

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I'm looking a lose some weight and improve my fitness a bit (my bro had a heart attack a couple of years ago). And being a geek I naturally like the sound of wearable tech that I can monitor my progress with. The kind of spec I'm looking at is:

  • sleep monitor
  • tracker - that connects to google maps or open street maps etc. So I guess it needs GPS?
  • heart rate monitor (hrm) without a chest strap
  • calorie burn estimator (even when cycling to work, presumably via the hrm)
  • waterproof enough for snorkeling the balmy waters of Whitby when I'm on hol
  • doubles up as a watch so I can wear it all the time
  • it's not from Apple
  • <£200 (so that excludes Apple I assume)

Not bothered about more complex activity monitoring, as I'm not training for a triathlon or marathon.

So far the Garmin Forerunner 35 (£150) seems pretty good. But I've read a few negative comments about FitBit build quality. Does anyone actually use these things here, and can recommend a good one?

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Had a Fitbit in the past, built quality was fine. It was one of the very basic ones however, the newer more watch like ones IMO do look and feel a bit cheap. 

I got a Garmin Forerunner 230 but not had much time to really use it yet, the 35 looks good. The HRM stuff is generally a waste of time unless you use the chest monitor. 

Also had a Microsoft Band 2, actually really good from a software point of view but absolutely shocking build quality. 

You said you don't want Apple, they are much more watch than fitness based and massively expensive because of it. 

 

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It's nowhere near your desired level of spec but I've had a Fitbit One for three years which has even been through the washing machine and survived by virtue of being in its holder.

By contrast the digits have started to go on a friend's wrist worn Garmin after less than two years.

So I would take all build quality stuff as anecdotal only.

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I've had a Garmin multisport thing for years and still working great. 

No idea about their newer stuff though.

On second thoughts I did get a Garmin golf/fitness type wrist thing last year. Wasn't impressed with the GPS accuracy so I returned it. 

I would get on wiggle - find a few that fit the bill - and put aside a good hour to read through a LOT of the reviews. 

Lots of folk that use wiggle tend to be fairly into their sport and know their stuff. I find the reviews on there generally far more useful and full of much less useless gumph than other places.

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Pebbles are fun, and as they've just been taken over by fitbit you can pick them up really cheaply.  

Of course, they'll not be supported for long, but this is the sort of tech people get really into for a few months and then give up on -- so lack of support shouldn't be a problem.

[I suppose it might be more useful to say that I've got one, found the fitness tracking parts to be useless (not in that they don't work, but in that Ive no interest in what they say, beyond the initial few weeks of novelty) as every other smartwatch I've tried, but the notifications side is genuinely useful.]

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I've got a Garmin Forerunner 735 and it's tremendous. GPS is bang on, comes with a heart rate monitor for more serious training and it'll do all the sleep monitoring stuff if you want. Have had some utter crap in the past (esp. Sony Smartwatch, absolute garbage).

You might struggle to get one for less than £200 though. The one below it looks pretty similar in terms of features.

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Got the bran flakes, got the tracksuit ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm6OVMzImrc

and now time to get the fitness tracker.

 

Must say I love these devices.

If they hadn't come along, I'd find myself in the uncomfortable position of having nothing better to do than actually take some exercise!

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8 minutes ago, Sledgehead said:

Got the bran flakes, got the tracksuit ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm6OVMzImrc

and now time to get the fitness tracker.

 

Must say I love these devices.

If they hadn't come along, I'd find myself in the uncomfortable position of having nothing better to do than actually take some exercise!

I agree (well, with the sentiment).  The fitness industry is all about selling us proxies for exercise -- it is almost as if once you've got the clothes, equipment, gym membership, healthy-eating cookbook, and now smart devices, then you don't actually need to do the actual exercise.  

I actually think these sorts of things detract from the exercise (or whatever the thing is -- like buying coffee table books, say).  Exercise is easy -- just go out and do it.  And, unless you're very disciplined, the feedback can slow you down as much as speed things up (I've done my steps for the day, phew, can take a rest now).

I suppose it could be a useful incentive -- but only as something like 'If I run/cycle/swim for 30 minutes, 5 times a week for 4 weeks then I'll buy myself a smartwatch as a reward'.

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...nobody need a devise to tell them what they need to do to keep fit....a devise to tell them what they need to think, a devise to tell them how to live, what to watch, eat, sleep, move, live......the world has gone mad.;)

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As to their usefulness: if you are trying to up your activity and get fitter then they're a great way of objectively tracking it.

When I have thought the benefit of wearing one has worn off then I put it in a drawer until I want to start upping the exercise again.

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10 minutes ago, winkie said:

...nobody need a devise to tell them what they need to do to keep fit....a devise to tell them what they need to think, a devise to tell them how to live, what to watch, eat, sleep, move, live......the world has gone mad.;)

In theory winkie, but most people these days live unnatural lives. When your day is spent indoors staring at a screen, when you drive to get to places because they are too far to walk, when your food is processed and filled with additives to trick your senses then you may need some help in balancing your life out.

If everybody lived a prehistoric existence of spending their time growing, gathering, and hunting their food then we would all have a marvellous fresh diet and be very fit.  For the vast majority of people that lifestyle option doesn't exist.

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17 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

In theory winkie, but most people these days live unnatural lives. When your day is spent indoors staring at a screen, when you drive to get to places because they are too far to walk, when your food is processed and filled with additives to trick your senses then you may need some help in balancing your life out.

If everybody lived a prehistoric existence of spending their time growing, gathering, and hunting their food then we would all have a marvellous fresh diet and be very fit.  For the vast majority of people that lifestyle option doesn't exist.

...very sad......because people are now first consumers, consuming stuff by paying for it not making it, getting it wrong to pay to get it right.....living artificially not being naturally.;)

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1 hour ago, onlyme2 said:

Buy a dog.

 

Got one - a mental springer that never stops running. 

My objective is to burn a few more calories per day than I eat, and get my resting pulse rate down a bit, and track my currently estimated calorie burn. I also want to see how good the quality of my sleep is (they can track how much rem sleep you get apparently). Hence my intention to buy one of these devices.

One day I will be Borg:

220px-Borg_dockingstation.jpg

 

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2 hours ago, Craig_ said:

I've got a Garmin Forerunner 735 and it's tremendous. GPS is bang on, comes with a heart rate monitor for more serious training and it'll do all the sleep monitoring stuff if you want. Have had some utter crap in the past (esp. Sony Smartwatch, absolute garbage).

You might struggle to get one for less than £200 though. The one below it looks pretty similar in terms of features.

I know someone with a Garmin 235 (marathon runner) and he's compared its heart rate output to one from a chest strap rigged up to a gym excercise maching, and they agreed quite closely. They can be had for £225 but at least double up as nice looking watches.

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2 hours ago, dgul said:

I suppose it could be a useful incentive -- but only as something like 'If I run/cycle/swim for 30 minutes, 5 times a week for 4 weeks then I'll buy myself a smartwatch as a reward'.

Haha!

I suppose they might also be the equivalent of a push-up bra.

You flash your tracker, burd thinks "cor, bet he's got a nice body". Later that week, massive disappointment @ kit-off.

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2 hours ago, Frank Hovis said:

In theory winkie, but most people these days live unnatural lives. When your day is spent indoors staring at a screen, when you drive to get to places because they are too far to walk, when your food is processed and filled with additives to trick your senses then you may need some help in balancing your life out.

If everybody lived a prehistoric existence of spending their time growing, gathering, and hunting their food then we would all have a marvellous fresh diet and be very fit.  For the vast majority of people that lifestyle option doesn't exist.

It's worth pointing out that in prehistoric times the average life expectancy was probably at least 20 years less than now (if you correct for infant mortality). A lot of people would be dead before they could get heart disease or cancer.

The UK i doubt very much could support a population of 60 million hunter gatherers, people in ancient times were probably subject to a lot of malnutrition due to food scarcity and adopting an ancient diet led to all sorts of other issues (for example peoples teeth being worn down and them dying through hunger).

I think the appeal to ancient life as some sort of golden age of existence is a fallacy. The effect of modern diet and lack of exercise on people is bad, sure. But its nowhere near as bad for people generally as the stresses imposed on the body by a prehistoric lifestyle. Of course there are always some exceptional extreme cases (for example people who literally eat themselves to death).

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Not meaning to hijack the thread, but if you are concerned about your bro's heart-attack then can you get a MOT from your GP re ECG, blood pressure, etc, to reassure yourself.

I would also seriously looking into magnesium citrate supplementation, with some vitamin D3, K2 and some boron thrown in as well. Calcium constricts the heart and magnesium relaxes it. Most people have too much calcium in their soft tissues and vritually no magnesium.

 

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Save your money on gadgets and monitors, a free smart phone app like Map my Run can do most of that. 

Save even more money by leaving the car at home and walking wherever and whenever possible, you will start to enjoy it and see more of your surroundings. 

Get some flat soled sneakers with zero heel to toe drop to get a more natural connection to the ground and keep lower body in alignment (not jacked up at the heels) you will walk further and without discomfort.

Adidas stan smith's or Gazelles, hell you can even stop of for pints in random boozers! 

You can start tonight just download the Map my Run app for free and hit the pavement. 

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No-one in the history of planet Earth ever needed a smart-watch/fit-bit to get themselves physically fit.

Until that is, the smart-watch/fit-bit was invented...!

Not sure how fit any of you will ever be - but I'm confident most of you will be a few hundred pounds lighter whatever the outcome...

 

XYY

                                                                                                               

The dog's kennel is not the place to keep a sausage - Danish proverb

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The watches can be fun to see how far you have gone and your times improve. If that's what floats your boat fine. 

I have a garmin, its ok but I don't like the messing around for it to lock. When I run with the club you can guarantee someone is always messing around trying to get lock at the beginning of a run, which is a bit of a faff if its -2 and you're freezing your nuts off.

I think if you want to keep interest, rather than spend a load of cash on gear just join a club. I like running on my own, but its fun to run with other people as well sometimes. Clubs aren't just for elite althletes, you can normally find one that is for beginners or people who run for fun rather than to maximise performance. The club I attend is over 50% women and they all love to chat as they run as well, so if you are interested in meeting people you could do a lot worse.

Like anything I think it is best to start cheap, then buy the gear if you get into it. Probably better off investing in a decent pair of trainers so you don't wreck your legs rather than a watch at the beginning. You need to keep running for about 6 months. After that it starts to get addictive and becomes much less of a chore. The light nights are coming up, so its a good time to start. Don't overdo it at the beginning. If your body starts to hurt or you start to get injured, take a rest rather than get more damaged.

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3 hours ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

It's worth pointing out that in prehistoric times the average life expectancy was probably at least 20 years less than now (if you correct for infant mortality). A lot of people would be dead before they could get heart disease or cancer.

The UK i doubt very much could support a population of 60 million hunter gatherers, people in ancient times were probably subject to a lot of malnutrition due to food scarcity and adopting an ancient diet led to all sorts of other issues (for example peoples teeth being worn down and them dying through hunger).

I think the appeal to ancient life as some sort of golden age of existence is a fallacy. The effect of modern diet and lack of exercise on people is bad, sure. But its nowhere near as bad for people generally as the stresses imposed on the body by a prehistoric lifestyle. Of course there are always some exceptional extreme cases (for example people who literally eat themselves to death).

You have wildly expanded upon my assertion that the people were fit and healthy in prehistoric times!

Without wishing to hijack.the thread with anthropological discourse:

Many things killed people, not least the endemic casual violence seen in ethnographic studies: if you didn't like someone or they had something you wanted then you killed them. No police, no punishment.

Of course it's not an option in the UK for the whole enormous population of 60m.

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