Whether you are starting to train or you are a professional athlete, you may have wondered what is the best technology to track your progress. There are many reasons to want a reliable one: you may want it to lose weight, stay in shape, control your professional workouts, keep track of your physical health, improve your sleep habits or simply know how to make better decisions based on how your body behaves.
All of them are very valid reasons for wanting to take control of your health, and depending on your way of life and objectives, some devices will work better for us than others.
There are mainly three options. First of all, we have mobile apps, which are the cheapest option. In second place we have the “wearables” classified into two types: Smartbands and Smartwatches.
If you want to know which one best suits your lifestyle, keep reading. Here we will tell you everything you need to know to make the best decision.
The best thing about mobile apps is their versatility and how inexpensive they are. When I talk about versatility, I mean the wide variety of topics that they cover. Depending on what you need, you can download one or the other.
On one hand, there are applications that offer information on nutrition or that allow you to keep track of your diets, meals, calories and carbohydrates. In this area we find applications like MyFitnessPal.
On the other hand, we have the applications that teach you workout routines to be able to exercise autonomously at home or in the gym. In this area there are mainly two types: those that have pre-programmed plans or those that recommend videos to follow the training based on your results and your progress. Shred, Fitbit Coach or Nike Training Club are some of the applications that address this topic.
There are also other types of complementary applications for our training such as applications with music for our sessions, motivational apps, yoga exercises or even meditation guidance.
And there are also applications that mix all these concepts to have it all in one.
Last but not least, there are applications that help us to keep track of our most common health habits such as the steps we take, the routes, the type of exercise we have done or our heart rate. They are usually called (fitness) trackers and are especially useful for obtaining graphs about our body and its behavior and being able to make better decisions about health habits in our day to day life.
In short, they are cheap, because we already have a mobile phone. Some may have a premium version, but it is considerably cheaper than a wearable. Also, the versatility: you can find the one that best suits your way of life and your goals.
What are they, what are they for and how do Smartbands differ from Smartwatch?
Smartbands are thin, light and cheap bracelets that allow us to keep records of our health habits. They are also known as activity bracelets, they are attached to the wrist and have sensors that, placed directly on our skin, can detect things like our heartbeat. The prices of these products start from 20 dollars, approximately.
The main objective of the Smartbands is to collect data about your habits. Most are capable of counting your steps, connecting with the GPS (or through the GPS of your mobile) to know exactly your routes, control the heart rate and monitor the hours of sleep (divided into its various phases of sleep: light, deep and REM â€”Rapid Eye Movementâ€”). Some are even able to measure oxygen and interpret the type of sport you are doing only with the effort and the type of movement you are doing. And, in addition, the battery is usually quite durable, lasting between one and two weeks (or even more) without the need to charge it.
The Smartband connects with the fitness tracking app that you have installed on your mobile phone to send all this data. With this information, the application will be able to create more detailed and complete graphs with much more data than you could fill in manually if you did not have a Smartband.
Smartwatches are usually more robust, resistant and expensive than Smartbands. They are known to be much more interactive than the others. These have a much more similar functionality to a “wrist mobile” than to a health tracker. Their prices can vary a lot, but they usually start at 120 or 150 dollars.
Although Smartwatches also start from the idea of collecting information, they focus much more on their functionality as a mobile phone. While Smartbands are not capable (not the vast majority, at least) of taking calls, responding to messages or having mobile applications on them, Smartwatches can do all of that.
These tend to have greater resistance to shocks, water and are more aesthetic. Just because it is a much more technologically powerful element than Smartbands, Smartwatches have a less durable battery. Its battery usually lasts only a day or two, that is the reason it may do without some features like the sleep tracker.
Even so, Smartwatches are mainly designed for those people who take sports more seriously, because the more expensive they are, the more precise sensors they can have. They are especially useful for all those people who need more control of their health habits (such as professional athletes) or people who need a complement for their mobile phone.
As we have said, your decision will depend on your finances, your needs and your goals.
If you need the cheapest option, you can opt for the mobile applications or the Smartband. If you can afford a more expensive device, you can consider the Smartwatch option. If you are a professional athlete, the Smartwatch will probably work better for you, although it may not have some options (such as sleep control) and will be a bit more expensive. If you are looking for something simple, discreet and that allows you to have indicative graphics about your health, you better opt for Smartbands. Although you know that with a Smartband you will not be able to answer calls or text messages. If you are only looking for exercise routines or an application to control your diets, you probably don’t need any extra device, and mobile applications will work better for you.