Best of wearable tech
Which one is right for you?
You know exercise is heart smart and good for you. But do you know how much physical activity you’re getting? How much sleep you’re getting? Deep sleep? HRV and other biometrics?
Wearable technology offers a wide variety of features that can help you take more control over your health. Much more than understanding ‘steps’. Those who use this technology are able to get more involved in their own healthcare. Keep in mind, the challenge is also interpreting data and know what individualized health strategies to take for your health. Simply buying a device will not make your healthier. However, it’s a great place to start. Let’s take a look at a few devices we use in our high performance health programs.
The Garmin Fenix is a top-tier multisport GPS watch with a slew of customizable modes and functions. It collects all the data we typically monitor, from HRV to sleep quality, to fitness activity. This is a great choice if you also want to measure your performance across activities such as golf, running, cycling, triathlon, etc. It has all of the bonus features you’d expect from a device in this price range- including text messaging and alerts, on-the-go contactless payments, customizable watch faces, and apps created specifically for the device. It’s incredibly resistant and performs to military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance. General battery life up to 14 days before need of a full charge. Garmin offers many other options at various price ranges, and also with various designs and sizes. We recommend the Fenix because it’s such a robust product, however, depending on your specific needs, you may want to compare their other great offerings.
The Oura ring is stylish, discrete and unique because of it’s low profile. Oura boasts to have the most accurate sleep data out of all wearable devices, and we think that might be true. If tracking sleep and sleep quality is your main priority, then this is likely the best device for you. Conversely, we find that it’s not the best at tracking fitness or activity, though it does have those capabilities. We also caution clients about potentially scratching the surface of the Oura if doing manual work or weight lifting.
Whoop is a low profile wearable device that tracks sleep, recovery and fitness about as well as the Garmin watches, but doesn’t have the myriad extras, GPS, or sport functionality of the Garmin products. Whoop shines because of it’s very robust phone app that allows easy visualization of your health and progress. The device itself has no screen and little interaction, which leads to maximized battery life. Whoop also stands alone because it operates as a subscription service. Users pay a low monthly rate for the device and service as opposed to buying anything outright or having an ongoing financial obligation. When updated devices are released, users have the option to switch with no increased cost.
Biostrap is a device similar in concept and function to Whoop, though between the two we prefer the Whoop. Benefits of the Biostrap are that it can be purchased outright, instead of being locked to a subscription. It can also be purchased with accessories to be used as an armband, chest strap or attached to a shoe for activity tracking, instead of just on the wrist. Head to head, the Whoop tracks more data, has more accurate sensors and a slightly nicer phone app for reviewing all of your hard earned stats.
Fitbit is a well established and innovative fitness tracking brand with several competitive devices at different price points. While not as robust as the Garmin offerings, Fitbit has several smart watches that interface well with Apple and Android devices for easy biometric tracking and on wrist productivity. If you’re not concerned with the additional connectivity, Fitbit also makes many wearable devices focused solely on tracking biometrics. These options are typically less expensive, lower profile and have greater battery life than the Garmin and Fitbit smart watches.
The Halo, by Amazon is a very minimal wrist worn device without a screen or the advanced functionality of many other fitness devices we have highlighted. It still, however, tracks fitness, sleep and stress data and compiles it into a well done Apple/Android app. The Halo is attractive because of it’s lower price point, but also because it keeps your fitness/sleep data interesting by gamifying your results. The sleep data is well done, and it calculates an overall sleep score for you with recommendations on how to improve sleep quality. The fitness section of the app awards you points for light, medium and heavy activity, suggests a target score, and will penalize you for long periods without activity. Some will find this motivational and others may feel pestered by it, but it’s potentially a fun way to compete against yourself for better sleep and fitness.
The Halo also offers a paid monthly membership with additional functionality, but we’d say it’s not strictly necessary, especially if you’re choosing the Halo because of it’s lower price point.
Firstbeat Analytics, acquired by Garmin, is a company focused on Heart Rate Variability research for nearly twenty years. The Firstbeat is a minimal device that adheres directly to the chest and thus remains discrete for daily use. The product uses a proprietary algorithm to track HRV and EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) which is a strong indicator of metabolism and fat loss. The data collected by Firstbeat gives great insight into stress and recovery. If sleep data is your main focus, this might not be the best single device for you, but it continues to estimate your sleep quality through heart rate changes during the night. Exercise is also handled a bit differently on the Firstbeat than other wearables, but physical activity scores are calculated by the device to help you understand and improve your performance.
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