Fab Fitness Gadgets
Merritt Gurley gets the skinny on the best new tech gear for tracking your activity you while you travel, from how many calories you burn to how many hours you sleep.
Published on May 21, 2013
The recent surge in gadgets, apps and interactive devices that merge
man with machine has made it easier than ever to monitor your
fitness level on the go. The new “life-tracking tools” pair physical
devices with virtual apps, charting your every move (and snooze)
onto an ever-growing graph of your daily existence. Sure, that
sounds daunting—and awesomely sci-fi—but think of how much
scarier it is to feel like you spent an entire trip inert. Our favorites of
these accessories help you keep track of how active you are,
wherever you are.
This device clips onto your pants during the day and slips into a wristband at night to record any and all activity—even if you’re just catching z’s. The Fitbit One (fitbit.com) keeps a log of steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, distance traveled and hours slept, and syncs all the data to an app on your smart phone via USB or wireless Internet so that trends can be tracked over time.
Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale
The app also lets you log your food and water intake, and workouts. If you buy the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale (fitbit.com), your weight, percentage of body fat and BMI will automatically update on the app every time you weigh yourself, but the device is too clunky to haul on a plane. Instead, get the pursesized Portable Body Scale (thinkgeek.com) and input your weight into the Fitbit app manually. All this adds up to a pretty complete picture of your physical health—we think it’s the most comprehensive on the market today. The only real drawbacks are the somewhat cumbersome design and the odd nighttime band. If you’re looking for a sleeker alternative, the Nike + Fuelband (nike.com/fuelband) and Jawbone Up (jawbone.com) are both futuristic-looking data bands worn around the wrist.
Tough, durable and data-heavy, the Garmin fēnix (sites.garmin.com/fenix) is ideal for the adventure traveler. Hands-free GPS, altimeter, barometer, temperature sensor and compass are all built into this durable black wristwatch, making it perfect for navigating rough terrain. It also wirelessly links up to a separately-sold Garmin heart-rate monitor, temperature gauge and a cadence sensor to help you adjust to the elements and pace yourself. Travelers who are more into traditional athletics than high-altitude adventure sports might want to test out the Garmin Forerunner 910xt (sites.garmin.com/forerunner910xt) instead. This multisport trainer is perfect for sporty travelers and triathletes, tracking running, cycling and swimming with surprisingly in-depth metrics. Water resistant to 50 meters, the watch measures swim distance and pool lengths, counts and identifies your strokes and, via GPS sensors, even maps the path you swam. All this data is stored and sharable through the Garmin Connect online community.
BodyMedia Wireless Link Armband
This little contraption is the only one of the bunch that’s a U.S. FDA-certified medical device. The armband measures four performance indicators designed to help you lose weight: the steps you are taking; skin temperature; galvanic skin response (how much you are sweating); and heat flux (the speed at which heat is leaving your body). Paired with the app that lets you log your meals, you can compare the calories you consume with the calories you burn. Once you know how the two correlate, you can easily set and track your weight-loss targets. bodymedia.com.
Zeo Sleep Manager Pro
New bed, different pillow, jetlag, conflicting time zone: grabbing
a good night’s sleep while you travel can be a tall order. A few of
the gizmos we’ve mentioned, like FitBit and JawBone, monitor
sleep cycles in the same manner as your day-time activity:
by measuring movement. But Zeo uses a totally different
technology—it reads your brain’s electrical signals—and the
result is a much more dynamic assessment of your nocturnal
habits. Once the information has been gathered, the app will
recommend changes to your sleeping habits to increase your
energy and improve your overall health. myzeo.com.