5 Health & Fitness Trackers that Make Healthy Living Easy
If you’ve made New Year’s resolutions to be more active, lose weight, and improve your health, about a third of you are already struggling to stick with them. Fortunately, there are gadgets that can give us the motivation to keep our resolutions, nudging us to stay on track and connecting us with people who support us in our endeavors.
I’ve used the following five types of products to help improve my own health – a smart water bottle, a sunrise clock, an electric toothbrush, a smartwatch with fitness tracking, and a smart tape measure – and have found them to work well for me. All of the products I recommend below are either highly rated and reviewed in their category or I’ve personally tested and used them.
Smart Water Bottle: LifeFuels The Bottle
Even mild dehydration (1-3% of your body weight, or 1.5 to 4.5 pounds) has been linked to impaired brain function and increased fatigue. What’s surprising is that this loss can easily occur while engaged in normal activities, not just while exercising or in the sweltering heat of summer. To stay hydrated, Harvard Health recommends 30 to 50 ounces of water per day (1-1.5 liters) ingested over the course of the day.
If you find it hard to drink all of that water or just want to make sure you're hydrated, LifeFuels The Bottle may be right for you. The Bottle tracks through a Bluetooth connected app on your phone how much water you drink throughout the day. And, to make staying hydrated more appealing, you can add flavor to your water through onboard FuelPod cartridges. Choose from flavors like grapefruit, peach, blackberry acai, and lemon-lime that are fortified with electrolytes, caffeine, vitamins, or antioxidants. My favorite is the lemon-lime, which is fortified with electrolyte and tastes a lot like Gatorade Zero. Most of the FuelPods are sweetened with Stevia, but LifeFuels does offer a couple of unsweetened options — Cranberry Raspberry and Strawberry Mango. Each FuelPod delivers about 15 servings and you can track your supply and order cartridges through the app.
I found that The Bottle accurately measured my fluid intake and that it woke up and connected to my phone with little lag, so I didn’t have to think about the fact that it was recording. The Bottle gets 4 days of life between charges.
Price: $99.00 (includes 3 FuelPods) when you use NEWYOU code on LifeFuels, additional FuelPods are $11.99 per FuelPod, which dispenses 15 servings
Sunrise Alarm Clock: Philips Connected Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock
Unless you’re the type that wakes up naturally in the morning, you’ve probably been yanked out of deep REM sleep by your alarm clock. This sudden awakening not only causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, but it also leaves you groggy, in a state called sleep inertia. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the participants’ impairment was the equivalent of being drunk. And while most grogginess wore off within 10 minutes of waking, impairment was detected up to 2 hours later.
An easy fix is to wake up slowly with a sunrise alarm clock, like the Philips Connected Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock. You use the SleepMapper app (free for iOS and Android) to set your alarm (or alarms) and choose a sunrise style to wake you gradually. The app also tracks environmental data, including light level, temperature, humidity, and noise, so you can see what factors may be impacting your sleep. The clock dims based on ambient light levels and if you need to get up in the middle of the night, it’s easy to turn on the clock’s light so you have just enough light to see where you’re going.
The Connected Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm clock gets 4.1 stars on Amazon and 4.3 stars on Best Buy. Wirecutter, Health.com and Chicago Tribune all chose the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock (the version without app connectivity) as their top pick for a sunrise alarm clock.
Electric Toothbrush: Oral-B Pro 1000
Just because you are technically able to get your teeth just as clean with a manual toothbrush as you can with an electric one, doesn’t mean that you will. Studies show a 21% reduction in plaque after three months of electric toothbrush use and an 11% reduction in gingivitis. Plaque can lead to cavities and gingivitis, which in turn can lead to severe gum disease.
The Oral-B Pro 1000 is an inexpensive and highly-rated pick when it comes to an electric toothbrush. It’s a basic model with a rechargeable battery, 2-minute timer, and oscillating head, which has been found to more effective than models that just vibrate. And, it’s compatible with a variety of brush heads for whitening, sensitive teeth and more. Wirecutter and Business Insider both chose the Pro 1000 as their top pick for an electric toothbrush and consumers on Amazon give it 4.4 stars and 4.8 stars on Best Buy.
Smartwatch with fitness tracking: Fitbit Versa 2
If you’re going to use a fitness tracker, it should also serve as a smartwatch so you’ll wear it all of the time. And if you want your fitness tracker to motivate you to work out, you’ll want a device that has a built-in support community. In a study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, participants who engaged in some type of social networking that encouraged working out exercised on average 20 minutes more per week and sustained that change even 9 months into the study.
Fitbit’s Versa 2 fills both the smartwatch and fitness tracker roles nicely, and it comes with a large, vibrant online community through the Fitbit app. Plus, you can create your own network of friends and family to motivate you. As a fitness tracker, Versa 2 has continuous heart rate monitoring with real-time heart rate zones, sleep tracking with a Sleep Score so you can track your progress, real-time pace and distance, female health tracking, guided breathing and more.
As a premium smartwatch, it has an always-on display and multiple band options, it syncs with your smartphone to show you notifications, it has Amazon's Alexa built-in, and it runs apps like Spotify for additional features. Like any top-tier smartwatch, it supports mobile payments via Fitbit Pay. And, in a departure from other smartwatches, it gets an impressive 6 days of battery life from a single charge.
Smart Tape Measure: PIE by Bagel Labs
In a study by the Mayo Clinic, researchers found that your waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio are more important than your weight when it comes to predicting early death. Tracking body measurements is also a better way to track fitness. As you build muscle and lose fat, your weight may remain constant, but you’ll see inches start to come off and your clothing will fit better.
Bagel Labs makes it incredibly easy to track your progress with PIE, a digital tape measure. The accompanying app, PIE Fit (free for iOS and Android), lets you track measurements for shoulders, bust, biceps, waist, hips, thighs, and calves, as well as any other measurement you want to track. You’ll also see your body fat percentage and waist-to-hip ratio with a scale showing whether you fall within a healthy range.
As someone who has used a regular tape measure to track everything from my waist-to-hip ratio to my baby bump when I was pregnant, I found the PIE smart tape measure to deliver exactly what I needed. You can lock the tape into place and tighten it for a consistent reading every time. The app is pretty bare bones and you have to watch out when measuring because pressing too long on the button that records your weight will change the measurement scale from inches to millimeters or centimeters. But, not having to record my measurements manually is well worth it.
Updated on 1/24/2020 with information of unsweetened FuelPods
[Image credit: Measuring body via BigStockPhoto, Techlicious, P&G, Philips]