Fitness Trackers and Wellness Programs 1

At work we’ve announced an internal Wellness Program to help push everyone into healthier lifestyles. One of the perks is that after we finish an initial health screening, we get a Fitbit Zip, which will be used to track a 7500 step per day goal. I’m personally excited about the Zip because I’ve been using a Jawbone UP24 for the last six months or so, and while I like the step and sleep tracking, there are issues with it I have.

First, let’s discuss why I got the Jawbone UP24 to begin with. I bought the LG G Watch, which was a nice cheap entry into the whole smartwatch world, and it was supposed to have step tracking. For the few months I had the device, step tracking was horrible. One day it congratulated me at 10am for completing my excercise goal for the day, claiming I had rode a bike for like 2 hours. I had been awake for one hour, and hadn’t even left my house yet. Even worse, I hadn’t even put my watch on. Needless to say, I needed a better solution, so I got a refurbed Jawbone from Amazon Warehouse. It’s worth noting that about three months ago my watch had an update that make the step tracking work great and I’ve tested it’s accuracy and I haven’t had any oddities since that update. The Jawbone has some nice features though.

The Jawbone UP24 itself it comfortable to wear, though it lacks any sort of real flexibility in sizing as it’s just a big loop that you hook around your wrist, this can lead to some discomfort in some situations, like typing. The tracker has an LED that lights up when you push it’s single button that serves a few functions. It’s about as basic and it can get, I think. The nice thing about this particular model is that it does wirelessly sync to your phone’s Jawbone app. The app itself is pretty intuitive too.

The UP App will track your steps, sleep pattern, offer suggestions and encouragement toward meeting your step goals. Overall the app works really well, and after a workout you’ll notice the app figured it out because it always pops up and asks “were you excerising betwen TIME XYZ and TIME ZYX?” You can fill out what you were doing and the stress level of your activity and it’ll generate calories burned based on your weight. The app will also send notifications to make your device vibrate if you’ve been sitting too long. The better part about that feature is that it’s pretty customizable so you can have it only monitor lacking movement over certain time peroids so your wrist isn’t buzzing while sleeping. You can even set vibration alarms too. Overall it’s a well designed app that engages you as you move through your day and allows for some nice customization.

The one big issue I take with the device and app as a whole is battery life notification, or rather, the lack thereof. When the battery gets low, the only notification that appears is a small battery icon already on the small UP status bar icon on your phone. If you’re not looking for it, you’ll probably miss it. Occasionally I go one or two days without noticing that it’s been dead. I felt like I was missing something, and when a coworker told me her Garmin fitness tracker sends her an email when her battery is getting low, I knew I was left wanting that particular feature.

I’ve been using both my LG G Watch alongside the Jawbone UP24 for the last eight weeks as I’ve been going through Couch to 5k, and I have to say, I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to give up the UP24. My watch tracks my steps, and while I was excited for sleep tracking, I’ve found that all it tells me is what I already know- I get up to pee at least once a night and I don’t get enough sleep, but I already knew that. I’m planning on ditching the Jawbone altogether, if nothing else, because I have to make room for the Fitbit Zip. Stay tuned, I’ll review that device at the end of August.

Also, for anyone curious about Couch to 5k, do it. I’m huge. I’m way out of shape. I’m in the middle of week six and can run (albeit slowly) for 20 minutes solid. I don’t recall ever running for 20 minutes solid, even when I was playing sports as an adolescent. As long as you’re smart, pace yourself and respect the rest days (they are important), it’s a great way to start getting into shape.