Q. I’m looking to get an activity tracker to make me move more. I sit at my job a lot and I need some incentive to get up from my desk every so often. Do you use one? If so, which one do you use?
A. You’re right, activity trackers can make you more aware of your movement throughout the day and may give you just the incentive you need to become more active. Recent studies have shown that prolonged periods of sitting can have a negative impact on our health.
See, Aha-Now! Warning: Sitting Is The New Smoking for more information about the impact of prolonged sitting on your health.
But while we might have the best intentions of moving more, unless we track our activity we may be unaware of just how sedentary we’ve become!
You can find reviews of two activity trackers as part of my Tech & Fitness series:
- FitBit Zip: Wearable Tech Inspiring You to Get Active
- Jawbone UP – Monitor Your Fitness and Sleep with Tech!
I do wear an activity tracker and have done so for nearly a year. I wear the Nike+ FuelBand SE that helps me track my movement throughout the day. (SE = Second Edition)
This video shows you the Nike+ FuelBand in action:
Activity trackers are very personal, after all you’re wearing it constantly, so my reasons for preferring the FuelBand may not work for you. I’ve listed my top 10 reasons why I like wearing the FuelBand and then below those other reasons why you might like the Band.
My Top 10 Reasons for Wearing the Nike FuelBand
Here are the 10 top reasons I like the FuelBand:
The Nike FuelBand has a colorful display that gives you data with just the press of a button. If you’re in the middle of a workout and you want to know how hard you’ve worked, you can see at a glance whether you should push yourself more or ease up and relax.
You never need to sync your FuelBand with your computer. You can connect your Band to your smartphone using the Nike+ Fuel app and your progress syncs automatically. You can see your FuelBand data on the app and adjust your settings.
You can set the Band to remind you to move when you’ve been stationary for an hour. The display of “Go Carolyn!” has made me get up from my computer frequently so I can become more active.
You can also enable the app to remind you via your smartphone. If you have a Pebble watch you can get reminders from your FuelBand there as well.
With Nike+ you can set daily, weekly and Fuel point goals for yourself. The default Fuel Point goal is 2000, which is fairly easy to reach, unless you’ve been sitting in front of a computer all day, researching tech and writing articles. I’m just sayin’…
Nike keeps track of your streak of hitting your daily goal so if you have a long streak going and you’re in danger of missing your goal for the day, you have a huge incentive to keep your streak going strong and move. You have until midnight to make your goal so you may have to take an unplanned evening constitution to get more Fuel points.
When I reach my goal my wrist lights up with fireworks congratulating me! Colored lights at the bottom of the display show me how close I am to reaching my goal so I can know quickly how close I am to reaching them and whether I need to up my activity.
You can also set longer goals, up to six weeks, to keep you pushing towards your fitness goal.
Unlike other activity trackers, the Nike FuelBand tracks your activity using Fuel points. Yes, you can track your steps and calories burned but I actually prefer the Fuel points precisely because they’re arbitrary. I know how many Fuel points I’m supposed to get in a day, for a workout, for my racquetball games, when I walk my dog Astro.
Others who many want to be competitive with more steps, calories, etc, are befuddled when I tell them that I track my activity with Fuel points. It’s as if I’m speaking a language they’ve never heard before:
“What’s a Fuel point?”
“It’s a measure of activity by Nike.”
You earn trophies for being active, which is a very cool thing. The trophies vary for how active you are, giving you extra incentive to push yourself harder. Some trophis include video and music. I won’t spoil the surprise in case you get a FuelBand and start earning trophies.
The trophies are virtual, mostly. When I reached 1 million NikeFuel, I earned a lace token from Nike.
You can see lots of data about your activity in the NikeFuel app and on the Nike+ website. You can track your Fuel by the day, month and year to see trends and progress. You can see which times of day you’re most active and compare your Fuel earned against other FuelBand owners and those in your age group and gender.
8. Battery Life
The battery life for the FuelBand is phenomenal. I only charge it weekly and only once have I seen a reminder that the battery was low.
The FuelBand feels solid on my wrist. The design makes the Band comfortable to wear. The edges are curved and the surface is a rubberize smooth plastic that is comfortable to the skin.
The USB charger is hidden in the clasp of the Band. No parts to lose, the Band is totally self-contained.
You can switch the display between your right and left hand, depending on where you want to wear it. I have found my dominant hand records more activity so I wear it there.
The black color is classic, but I like the subtle splash of color too. The FuelBand comes in:
- Volt (Green)
- Pink Foil
- Total Crimson
I have the green one. I wish turquoise were an option, but I’m satisfied with the green.
I’ve lost 22 lbs. since I started using the FuelBand a year ago. I’m much more active with it and the Band, plus My Fitness Pal, have made me much more healthy than I was this time last year.
Bonus: My dog Astro gets more walks so he is healthier too!
Other Reasons You May Like the Nike + FuelBand
Easy Set Up
Setting up the FuelBand is easy. You can plug it into the USB port on your computer and/or sync it with an app on your smartphone. You can easily change the settings if you find your original ones aren’t to your linking (reminders to move, preferred hand, etc.).
The Nike+ FuelBand also functions as a watch. Double-tap the button and the time is displayed. Because I wear my beloved Pebble watch, I don’t rely on my Band as a timekeeper, but it’s still handy to have easy access to that feature.
You can connect with others on Facebook or in your Contacts to set group goals and compete with your friends. I prefer to keep it personal, not social, so I don’t take advantage of this feature, but I know others enjoy the ability to connect.
You can also share your goals, trophies and other achievements on Twitter and Facebook when you’ve earned those bragging rights.
The Nike FuelBand is water-resistant so you don’t have to worry about taking your Band off when you shower.
I lost my first Nike+ FuelBand earlier this year in an unfortunate
cliff diving, scuba diving, snorkeling incident off the coast of Belize. I was so accustomed to wearing my Band that I forgot I had it on. When I jumped off the boat and hit the water my FuelBand snapped off of my wrist and is now lying somewhere at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea.
You can set the FuelBand to record activity sessions so you know exactly how much Fuel, calories, steps you’ve earned during your workout. I don’t use sessions because I would probably forget to turn off the session.
This summer Nike placed a Nike+ FuelBox vending machine in various places around New York City to encourage you to move more. The FuelBox is filled with cool stuff and the only payment allowed is NikeFuel. See, SlashGear, Nike Fuelband points could end up getting you free stuff.
The Nike+ FuelBox is back in the city tomorrow. To find it, keep your head up. To unlock it, keep your NikeFuel up. pic.twitter.com/kr8nfYcDRu
— Nike NYC (@NikeNYC) July 22, 2014
IFTTT Nike+ Channel
You can use the recipes on the Nike+ Channel on IFTTT to be notified when you reach your goals, share your progress with others, add your Fuel data to a spreadsheet, etc.
See IFTTT- Tech to Make Your Life Easier! for more information.
Room for Improvement
When I tested the Jawbone UP for review, I really liked the sleep tracking feature. I wish the FuelBand had that feature too. I wear the Band when I sleep at night and I can tell in the morning how restful my sleep was by how much Fuel I earned overnight. But having more sleep data would be interesting.
Better Measurement of All Activity
Because the FuelBand is worn on the wrist it isn’t an effective tool to measure all activity. Bicycle riding involves very little wrist motion, for example, but there are work-arounds. You can attach the FuelBand to your shoelaces when you go bike riding to get a measurement of your movement.
Some activity, while being quite strenuous, doesn’t earn you much Fuel. Rowing, for example, doesn’t involve much wrist or foot movement so the FuelBand doesn’t record much activity. A better way to track this sort of exercise would be a great improvement to the FuelBand.
In April news spread about Nike firing its FuelBand team and canceling plans for future versions of its Band. Nike stated that it would continue to support existing FuelBands, but the danger does exist that this FuelBand will become obsolete at some point. Perhaps after an Apple iWatch is on the market?
Nike has dropped the price of the FuelBand SE from $149 to $99. The FuelBand is available from Nike.com.
The FuelBand app is available free for:
Do you like the idea of activity trackers? Which features of the FuelBand are attractive to you? Which features would you like to see on the FuelBand? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Carolyn is away from the Internet, trying hard to earn her second million Nike Fuel points. She will return to respond to comments on August 25 (after she catches her breath). Awesome articles about the coolest tech will continue to be published at The Wonder of Tech while she is away.