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The best fitness devices for the health conscious

Rich Mogull | April 12, 2013
We look at the best gadgets for exercise and fitness enthusiasts.

These tools deliver data to online services to integrate your activity and weight in one dashboard. The FitBit Aria is a stylish option for FitBit fans, and the Withings Smart Body Analyzer adds heart rate data (good for taking your morning resting heart rate) and air quality sensors, and works with more than 40 online services.

A food tracking app for your smartphone records meals and calculates calories. Better yet, thanks to smartphone cameras, these apps can scan bar codes and pull results right from online databases. Most activity trackers include food tracking in their own apps, including FitBit, Jawbone, and LarkLife. MyFitnessPal is a top-rated stand-alone alternative.

Track and analyze all your data with a health and fitness Web site. Most of the time, it's best to stick with the site supported by your activity tracker--and almost all support smartphone companion apps. Sometimes you might want a bit of a different focus, which is where sites like MyFitnessPal for weight management or Endomondo for GPS-tracked fitness, like running and cycling, come in.

Good additions

Advanced activity trackers add additional sensors (and bulk) but may be more useful for people who need more detailed activity and caloric assessments. The BodyMedia FIT adds galvanic skin response, heat flux, and skin temperature sensors to an accelerometer to more precisely measure caloric burn during the day. The Basis Band adds an optical heart rate sensor for even deeper analysis. While great for data geeks who don't mind wearing bulkier devices, they can be overkill for basic health activity tracking.


The BodyMedia Fit gives precise measurements

Smart blood pressure monitors connect to your iOS device (and to Android devices soon) to automatically upload your blood pressure readings to many of the same online services we've mentioned. They work the same as a normal blood pressure monitor, and paired with an online service, can help you better manage your health over time. The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor works with many services and 30-pin iOS devices, and iHealth offers wireless options.

For diabetics, smartphone glucose monitors like the iBGStar work like normal glucometers, but upload your data to your smartphone and online services for trending and analysis.

Things to avoid

Wireless scales that don't measure body composition, or use Bluetooth or ANT+ instead of Wi-Fi.

Food tracking apps that lack a barcode scanning feature, or have a small database.

Phone-based activity trackers. Yes, your phone has the same motion sensor as an activity tracker, but it's hard to get the same quality of data and it will eat up battery life.

 

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