Ideal fitness tracker features

trackerpile_croppedJust a few of the fitness/health trackers I’ve evaluated

Regular readers know I’ve become an accidental fitness tracker reviewer.

What started out as a simple quest for a good overall health & fitness tracker resulted in a string of companies reaching out to me over the years with their offerings and asking for my honest opinion. (You’ll find written and video reviews of all of these on this blog.)

I’ve since become rather fascinated by this technology and what’s possible with these devices and have bought several with my own money.

I keep searching for the perfect all-around device and have yet to find it.

Once again I was recently asked what features I’d like to see in a fitness tracker so I thought I’d update the list.

I’ve had every one of these features in a fitness device, mind you, but not all of these features in any one device.

Here is my fitness tracker wish list:

  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable and stylish enough for all-day wear even in professional settings
  • 5+ day battery life
  • Good at tracking exercises in the gym (sets, reps, velocity and weight amount) with the ability to train new, custom movements/exercises.  There must be a display on the device that allows you to edit exercises and change functions during exercises and activities without access to the paired phone.
  • Display easy to read in bright sunlight.
  • GPS tracking
  • An online dashboard that allows you to track data over time with the ability to export all data to a spreadsheet for long-term tracking and trend analysis
  • Automatic sleep tracking with deep vs. light sleep time
  • Ability to measure blood pressure on-demand
  • Heart Rate (HR) capabilities, both on-demand and continuous options
  • Resting Heart Rate (RHR) while sleeping (high, low and average)
  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurements while sleeping to better understand stress and recovery
  • Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2)/pulse oximetry measurements

What would put a device over the top would be:

  • Storage and playback for mp3 files so I can play music through my BLE ear buds in the gym and leave my phone or mp3 player behind
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) (I’ve tested some devices that provide this)

Features I do not care about:

  • Smartwatch features such as text message previews, message and social media alerts, etc.  We are all already too distracted.  I don’t want something else buzzing or vibrating.  When I have had these features I turn them all off.  I like to manage my devices and I don’t need or want them to manage me.
  • SIM card/cellular connectivity.  That’s why I have a phone.  I don’t need to talk through my watch (although it is very cool!)  Plus the virtual keyboards are pretty much unreadable and unusable by grown adults.

Right now I use three main trackers to accomplish what I want.  Here’s what I currently use and why:

  1. The MorePro HRV.  This is the best device I’ve tested for sleep tracking and it is also the best I’ve found to give me true insights into my overall health.  It provides very good sleep analysis and it provides HRV, HR, RHR and SpO2 analyses which all help me understand my rest and recovery.  As a nasal allergy sufferer, I’ve really come to appreciate the SpO2 measurement which also analyzes hypoxia times and apnea events while I sleep.  It has both green and red LED’s to make these measurements.  If it had GPS, blood pressure capabilities and could track gym activities it would be near perfect.
  2. The Atlas Wearables 2 for in the gym.  It is the best device I’ve found yet to recognize exercises and track reps and sets in the gym.  It allows me to edit directly from the device and it allows me to program custom exercises.  It also has an online dashboard to let me view my progress over time and track my total gym volume so it has completely replaced my old paper and pencil.  It is definitely not designed to be worn outside the gym, though, and battery life is poor.  Atlas are currently working on a next-generation device that looks promising and that new device looks to be available within the next few months.
  3. The Amazfit Bip when I’m out kayaking, hiking or cycling. Its always-on display gets easier to read in bright sunlight, it is waterproof and it gives me GPS data.  The battery life is also incredible (30 days or so) so I can use it in GPS mode for many all-day outings before it needs to be charged. Both I and my wife have these and we agree that sleep tracking and analysis is poor.

So there you have it. Those are the three main devices I regularly use to get the data I’m interested in.  One mostly for sleep and recovery analysis, one for in the gym, and one primarily for outdoor activities.

So my big question remains: If all of these features are already possible, why doesn’t one manufacturer or device incorporate them all?

If you are aware of a device that incorporates most of these features please let me know!

 

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