So far, so convenient. But not yet life-changing. Now, combine it with the app on the smartphone – and with some new-start resolutions – and it becomes a personal wellness coach. The standard stuff is all there: tracking numerous exercise types, counting steps, and monitoring heart rate.
It’s not all low-calorie wine and roses, though. Fitbit insists that repetition-type exercise can only be customised by time, and not by actual repetitions. So you cannot set a target for number of push-ups or sit-ups for example – only the time spent doing it. But that’s not how mere mortals exercise.
I’ve raised this with Fitbit several times over the years, they’ve always said it’s a good idea, but they’ve never done anything about it. Well, here’s Earth calling Fitbit again: if you call it repetitions, allow users to track repetitions!
That said, the Versa, paired with the app, does go a few steps further: It measures sleep on several levels – including hours in different sleep stages, and estimated blood oxygen variation – assigns a sleep score based on analysis of all the data, and offers advice to improve the score.
The often-ignored truth about fitness and wellness is that one of the biggest contributors to well-being is a good night’s sleep. Sleep monitoring is common on activity monitors, but we are now seeing it integrated into a health regime – if you are willing to use it.
And then there is one of the most subtle commonly available health measures of all: “resting heart rate”. This is, often, an ultimate measure of cardiac health. The evidence lies in the fact that, the more regularly you exercise, and the better you sleep, the more your resting heart rate comes down. The Versa tracks this over time, and presents a 30-day graph to give you a precise picture of how your behaviour affects your resting heart rate.
On a personal level, my most fascinating insight into resting heart rate was the direct relationship between improved quality of sleep and decrease in that rate. Add daily exercise, and there is again a direct relationship.
Correlate sleep and exercise with resting heart rate, and you suddenly have the clearest incentive to clean up your act.
There is one further step that some may regard as an obsession too far: logging your food, to measure how many calories you take in daily, and what proportion is made up of carbs, fat, and protein. The app provides a colour coded graph showing the proportion of calories that should be taken in relative to what is burnt. Hint: eat healthy foods and burn more calories than you take in, and your weight starts decreasing.
I tried it. And reached my goal weight in less than two months – after having tried unsuccessfully for more than five years, usually with the attempted assistance of older Fitbit models.
All taken together, this is a recipe for getting your life on track, for pursuing resolutions one by one, eventually combining them, and finally turning a watch into your own private watcher.
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee
Visit the next page to read more about the specs of the Versa 2.