The Fitbit Charge HR: A first step to many, many more steps.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking, camping, jogging, taking the kids to the zoo, or like some of us here at NBO, trying to get healthier, Sometimes you need help. You could go to a gym and pay a personal trainer an ungodly amount of money. Or you could take a less costly route and put the responsibility on yourself. The Fitbit Charge HR is just the tool to start you on that path.

Izzy wearing the Fitbit Charge HR at Shot Show 2016.
Izzy wearing the Fitbit Charge HR at Shot Show 2016.

Similar to many people I know, fitness has suddenly become a concern for me. Maybe not enough to join a gym and try to adhere to any kind of schedule that would include getting my money’s worth, but close. Instead I got a Fitbit. More specifically I got the Fitbit Charge HR. I was excited when I got this model over a year ago because it was one of the newest offerings in the line of heart rate monitoring fitness trackers. I wasn’t looking for a model to prepare me for a marathon, as many heart rate monitoring fitness trackers seem to. Instead I was looking for something that estimated my burned calories well and measured my activity over the day. The Fitbit Charge HR seemed to for the bill. As I poured over the online reviews and literature there was talk of it being able to withstand being worn in the shower. Then just before the official launch they removed that feature from any of the official write ups. Regardless of its durability in water I was still excited to have a device that would measure my heart rate, keep track of how many flights of stairs I had climbed, a pedometer, and a calorie estimator. Some of the features I really didn’t care about were the alarm clock and the caller ID function.

Charging cable.
Charging cable.

It’s available in a few different band sizes to accommodate wrists of different thicknesses; I got the large. It’s worn just like a wristwatch but you need to avoid placing it directly on the wrist. If that happens the heart rate monitor won’t be able to properly keep track of your pulse. Something about the bones in your wrist. Instead, the instructions told me to slide it 2 inches up my forearm, away from the wrist. I set the band to a comfortable tension and pushed it up my arm until it stopped and felt snug. I’ve been wearing it that way ever since. Charging is easy and accomplished with a pigtail cord that plugs into any USB port. Don’t lose it, ever. It’s proprietary and you’ll probably have to send off for a replacement if you do lose it. Now, I haven’t wanted to test the limits of its water resistance. To avoid damaging the unit I typically charge it when I take a shower. After I get out of the shower I unplug it and the Fitbit usually greets me with some kind of encouraging message or fun little quip and I go about my day. I was very aware of it during the first month. Now I hardly noticed that it’s there. Except when I forget to put it on and try to check the time. Which is easy given that the watch activates when I raise my wrist and turn my wrist to read the time. It’s one of the updates that the unit has had. So now, instead of having to raise my arm and operate a button or tap the face to get the OLED display to tell me what time it is, I simply raise my wrist to look at my watch as if it were always on. I’ll admit that it doesn’t work 100% of the time but it’s so easy to do that I hardly even think about it while checking the time.

The heartrate sensor.
The heart rate sensor.

So how does it do? We’ll I’ve found it to be a good motivator. Whenever the pedometer registers my goal of 10,000 steps for the day, it vibrates and lights up. It’s something that I look forward to. There have been times that I’ve felt worn down or tired and I’ll get that notification from the Fitbit and it’ll make my day better. It helps me feel a little more accomplished and pleased with myself. It’s that little bit of encouragement that made it worth it. I’ve read a few articles here and there complaining that the heart rate monitor is inaccurate; I haven’t had these issues. On a few visits to doctors offices I have compared the on-screen number to the number that the nurse has from her manual method or even a doctor’s office auto blood pressure cuff. My Fitbit’s numbers are usually within one or two beats per minute of their reading. And this has consistently been the case. So I’m pleased with its ability to measure, or estimate, my heart rate. I have connected my Fitbit to the online Fitbit account and I can review my numbers for weeks or even months. I have also tethered it to the app on my smartphone. Using a Bluetooth connection I’m able to see instant data from the Fitbit charge HR. I can get up-to-the-minute pedometer count and current heart rate. Another thing that can be done in the app or online is a review of sleeping habits. If you have a concern over how well you’ve slept, or haven’t, over the last few weeks you can bring up the data on your smartphone or at a computer using your browser. You can see how many hours you were asleep how many times you were restless and how many times you woke up. Restless and awake during the sleep cycle seems to be an arbitrary assigning of terms. I have seen some data suggesting that I was awake but I don’t recall being active. If anything, it suggests that I was perhaps tossing and turning a few times before I settled back into sleep. While monitoring your sleep may not be important for some people I find that it’s a good way to hold myself accountable and encourage myself to at least try and get to bed sooner.

Fitbit Charge HR wrist positioning.
Fitbit Charge HR wrist positioning.

Sleeping with a Fitbit can be challenging as well. If the sensitivity for the watch function is too high it may turn the screen on while you’re sleeping if you turn your wrist. This has happened to me a few times and I have been momentarily blinded as some ungodly hour is displayed on my Fitbit. Also, there may be times when it pushes away from your skin. This may allow the green pulsating lights underneath the Fitbit to shine into your eyes. These lights are what the heart rate monitor uses to measure your pulse. The green strobe isn’t that bright, unless it’s dark. It can be annoying to suddenly have a discotheque on your arm at 3am, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. I’m just more aware of where my wrist is and if I do catch a glimpse of a green strobe light I just turn my wrist a bit. It has an alarm function, which I mentioned earlier, that vibrates and flashes to alert you or wake you up. You may find that useful but I stopped using it after a few months.

Fitbit Charge HR OLED display.
Fitbit Charge HR OLED display.

Overall I really enjoy it. It’s got the features that I wanted for a price that didn’t make me feel buyer’s remorse. If you’re in the market for a budget fitness tracker, I can honestly say that I recommend it.

If interested, and would like to try the Fitbit Charge HR yourself, Click right here.

If you would like more information about the Fitbit Charge HR, Click here for Fitbit’s information page.

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