Updated 04/06/2013 05:00 AM
Tech Beat: Wearable fitness devices track, contextualize movement, sleep
A new breed of wearable fitness devices are designed to make you healthier and more well rested. Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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It's the new hot trend in health: high-tech wearable fitness devices that all generally track your movement and sleep, then put it into context for you.
"Most of the problems we have are not moving a lot, so it counts steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled," said Stephna May of FitBit.
She's talking, specifically, about FitBit monitors for between $60-$100. They're the kind you clip on. What makes these different from many others is they have altimeters inside, so they can tell when you're walking up or down stairs and therefore burning a few more calories.
Then, you have the fashionable bracelet types like the Jawbone Up. This, as it tracks your sleep, helps determine when you're coming out of a sleep cycle and vibrates to help wake you at the most comfortable time for you. It works for power naps as well.
Another plus is, while all the devices have companion apps that tell you how many calories you're burning and offer up overall health charts, they also have sections for you to log your food, which can be the most tedious part of the process. The Up app makes it a bit easier by allowing you to scan bar codes on food packaging. Once you do, all the nutritional info is thrown right into the system. The Up costs $130.
And BodyMedia Fitness has bands that are bulkier and not quite as stylish, but they are among the few that have sensors on your skin to tell you almost exactly how many calories you're burning as opposed to estimating based on how many steps you're taking. These cost between $120 and $150 but also require a $7 per month subscription to the online activity manager.
So do these really work? Well, most health care professionals would probably tell you 'yes' because anything that helps you pay more attention to your daily habits can improve your health.
"It totally raises accountability, and you could see what you did right, what you did wrong, and what you may ultimately want to change," said Lisa Young, a professor of nutrition at NYU. "So for tech-savvy people, I think it's a really fun way to try to become healthier."
Again, there are lots of these devices out there. So the best advice? Do some research to determine which fits best in to your lifestyle and which you'd be most likely to stick with using.