All it takes is a peek at the wrists of your friends, coworkers and passersby on the street to see that fitness trackers are all the rage right now. And for good reason!
These unobtrusive bracelets track your steps, workouts, sleep, mood, food and more, and in the opinion of this holistic nutritionist, they can be an invaluable tool in understanding your body, setting and sticking with wellness goals, and getting (and staying) super healthy and fit.
For the last 4.5 months, my techie husband and I have been testing the UP24 Band ($127), and I have to tell you, it rocks.
The sleep tracker is top notch, better then most of the others on the market right now, in that it not only shows you how much sleep you’re getting, but also how much deep sleep and light sleep. I can tell you from UP Band experience, 8 hours of mostly light sleep can feel like getting just 3-4 hours of rest in a night, and leads to a very groggy, moody day. Whereas just 6 hours of mostly deep sleep can feel like a blissful, 9 hours of rest, leading to an energized, happy and productive day.
From tracking the detailed quality of my sleep, I can see how that 4pm green tea, late night Walking Dead marathon, big dinner out, or sedentary day at my computer effect my sleep, which gives me so much more insight into exactly what I need to do to ensure high quality, restful, energizing sleep. (Hint: no caffeine after 3pm; a light, veggie dinner; and being in bed by 10:45 with a great book are key)
The step and activity tracker is also awesome, and has really shed the harsh light of reality on what I thought was a pretty active lifestyle. On days when I work from home, I average just 4000 steps, wayyyy below the recommended 10,000 step goal that the program encourages. I now make sure to take my dog on longer walks, find myself taking the stairs way more, and yes, even dancing around my apartment or running in place during workday breaks to get me closer to my goal.
My UP Band has also transformed my attitude towards walking. Whereas before, I would count proximity and convenient above all else, now I don’t think twice about trekking the extra 7 blocks to the organic juice bar I love, or schlepping for 15 minutes from the train to a doctors appointment. If anything, I get excited about the steps I’m racking up, and eagerly await the positive reinforcement I receive from the app.
The app does a great job of encouraging you to keep improving, with incremental increases to your steps, water intake, and sleep. It gives you great daily motivations, with health and nutrition factoids (most of which I actually agree with!), and comparative data on your past weeks. “You’ve walked 30,000 steps already this week, putting you in the top percentile for UP users in your age group! Keep up the great work!”
Perhaps the most useful tool in keeping me on track is the Team function, which allows you to share your feed and stats with other users you know. Though my team is just comprised of my husband and I, we’re a pretty competitive lot. Though he consistently beats my daily count by about 4,000-5,000 steps (he has a standing desk at work, and paces ALL day long — I swear!), knowing that someone else will know if I only leave the house once all day, and spend 8 hours straight in front of my computer is an excellent motivator to get moving.
We routinely leave comments and little emoticons of playful judgement or encouragement on each others feeds, making the whole thing so much more fun, interactive, and social.
The other features include a pretty comprehensive activity tracker, with tons of different forms of exercise and movement to choose from, as well as difficulty levels, and though I’m not into calorie tracking, it’s really interesting to see how many I burned off with that intensive yoga class, bike ride to Whole Foods, or dancing with my girlfriends.
The food tracker isn’t that great, admittedly. It has limited options to choose from, and although you can scan in bar codes, I find the whole process to be rather tedious. I much prefer taking beautiful Instagram photos of my food as a way to make sure that everything I’m eating is healthy and beautiful. But if you’re interested in tracking the nutritional value of your eating, the UP Band has you covered. It features a neat little breakdown of how your diet measure in terms of fat, sugar, salt, protein, carbs, fiber, etc.. Which can be super illuminating!
In short, I love my UP Band, and it definitely took my healthy lifestyle from great to supercharged. For anyone looking to make some measurable changes to their health, it’s an invaluable tool that makes getting healthy way more fun!
For a comprehensive comparison of the different fitness trackers out there,