Heart rate monitoring has been an important training tool for athletes. Some of the mainstream activity band-makers include Microsoft band and Basis Peak. Fitbit is now striving to offer heart rate monitoring for the average health-conscious consumer.
Well, you don’t need to be an athlete to track your heart rate, but working on different heart rate zones can mean the difference between actually burning fat and strengthening your cardiovascular health. Let’s see how well the Fitbit Charge HR performs in order to possibly help you make an informed purchase decision.
The Fitbit charge features a very nice silicon band that is rubber-like to the touch, which also provides an original look compared to its predecessors. The device is also among the first to offer a 100% secure latch. The original charge was secure in that it held very well but the newer latch provides a more secure fit and peace of mind.
As a general tip, make sure that when you are weight lifting or performing other normal duties around the house, flexing your wrist back and forth doesn’t cause discomfort since the band gets in the way sometimes.
Generally, wearing the band does feel like wearing a standard-sized watch. For those who work in an office setting, the band rarely snags the cuff, thereby providing a comfortable feel. Upkeep The band barely collects any dust, which is a huge plus unlike other products. Despite wearing it every day, the screen shows zero signs of wear and tear. It’s also the same for the band’s underside, which houses the optical sensors to read the pulse.
The only downfall that really stands out is the band has a rating of 1 atm, meaning it’s only splash-resistant against water. As such, you cannot go swimming with it. Exposure to detergents or shampoos can also wear out the band.
Display Clicking on the side button on the band displays the time, your total steps, your heart rate in real time, estimated distance covered, calories burned, and the steps climbed. The display then goes back to showing the time. The action button enables you can start a stopwatch application that displays the aforementioned data. You can also change the clock display to suit your individual preferences.
The Fitbit application is enjoyable to use on your phone as you can easily see all of your data at a glance. It also displays the same data, with an additional feature that shows active minutes, whereby data is accumulated either automatically or manually by long-pressing the action button.
The data in each category can also be broken down on the application in the form of bar graphs. For example, expanding the category provides a better visual, which shows the time, while offering comparative data for different times.
The right side of the main page on the app shows your daily goals (marked in grey), which you can customize by clicking on ‘Edit goal.’
The only missing feature that Fitbit should probably have included is the auto goal or smart goal. The feature enables the band to learns your activity level. Thereafter, it adjusts so that you can keep pushing. It can also lower the goal, thereby making it more attainable.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Fitbit suggests wearing the device at least one finger-length below the wrist bone in order to ensure a better heart beat reading. Blood flow in your arm increases the further up you go. As such, try not to wear the Fitbit tightly on your arm, as this would restrict blood flow, which would lead to less accurate readings.
After checking this device periodically throughout the day, it becomes apparent when it first obtains a reading, it tends to be off by at least 10 beats or more at times compared to other devices. After a minute or so, the beats become more in line with the other devices used to cross-reference.
As a quick test, I performed about 100 jumping jacks with the Fitbit Charge attached on one wrist and a Polar Loop Chest Strap on the other. The results mentioned held true. The device tended to get out of line with other devices, up to the point when my heartbeat stabilized, whereby it realigned with other devices. I even counted my pulse physically and in the end, it was practically spot on once everything leveled off. Evidently, no device is 100% accurate. However, some are more accurate than others. It’s is apparent that the Fitbit Charge HR seems to have trouble keeping up with other devices such as the Surge and the Chest Heart Rate Monitor.
After collecting all the data, the Fitbit Charge App displays the last 30 days of your resting heart rate, a horizontal timeline for each day, which is intriguing to see as you can tell when you fell asleep or woke up. By clicking on either of the lines, you can obtain information regarding your workout to determine how much time was spent in the fat-burn zone versus your cardio, where you can strengthen your heart.
The emphasis on resting heart rate is that typically, some people train regularly, which translates to a lower resting heart rate since their hearts are healthy. As such, a healthy heart requires less effort to pump blood. Therefore, your resting heart rate is likely to go down with continued exercise over time.
Additional Features on the App
Avid runners can also track their workouts by using their phone’s GPS. When you go out for a daily or periodic jog, GPS tracking will allow Fitbit to record your trail. As such, the feature maps your data. Furthermore, if you have ear buds, turning the audio cues on from the menu would enable Fitbit to notify you of statistics based on the time or distance that you choose. The voice is relayed to your ear buds and advices you regarding your distance, time, or even pace without necessitating a stop to read the data. The data can also be stored over time on your calendar, upon which you can conduct comparative reviews. You can also monitor your weight by keying in your measurements.
Fitbit also allows you to record your body fat percentage as well and make comparisons. The sleep mode feature records your sleep pattern. Oddly, it doesn’t provide a daily numerical breakdown below the graph as it does with the previously stated data. Instead, you can click on expand, whereby the feature breaks down your night’s rest- indicating periods of restlessness or wakefulness.
A food log on the app is also provided for caloric intake, but it provides a limited application since it is not as intuitive as other apps. For instance, while using the Jawbone app, you can scan the back of a package’s UPC (Universals Product Code) and it will automatically import your food data into the app. The upside of Fitbit’s app is that its data can be transferred to other apps.
The water intake feature on the app is also very important. You can use a certain-sized bottle and upon finishing each drink, log your data, which would be stored on the app. It’s simple and highly beneficial.
Non-health aspects may make or break one’s purchase decision. The top left corner of the app provides various advantageous settings. For instance, you can add some of your friends who may be using Fitbit products.
You can also compete and compare your activity level with others on the leader boards and progress reports. This provides ample motivation, especially when people see others doing well or even better.
Additionally, the challenges option allows you to activate a challenge for your group of friends or yourself. Lastly, you can also see the devices associated with your phone and app. The settings on the app provide your profile, which you can change- name, weight, age, height etc- while also adjusting your units to suit your individual preferences.
Surprisingly, more people use the alarms feature a lot. The alarm provides a strong vibration to the wrist, which effectively nudges you from sleep-a cool feature to have. You can set up a onetime alarm or the specific days you would like to make use of the app, especially for those with a consistent workout schedule. It’s great to have such a feature when you don’t want to disturb your spouse of someone around you. The caller ID feature is also important. When someone calls you, the caller’s ID scrolls through the Fitbit screen prior to picking the call.Unfortunately, the band does not display notifications.
Verdict Overall, after testing, the battery to last up to five days for the Charge HR. With the regular charge, this rises to between seven and ten days per Fitbit. Based on a personal test, the band’s battery lasted a full four days and fifteen hours of use. Compared to other tested bands, the Fitbit charge has a good to average rating. Any less time would have been a little too short.