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Fitness and Health Gadgets: Tracking your Life

BodyMedia FIT Armband

If you want more details and slightly more accurate details than the Fitbit, plus detailed sleep tracking, strap the BodyMedia FIT Armband on.

A little chunky, but the Bodymedia FIT measures a lot.

A little chunky, but the Bodymedia FIT measures a lot.

It’s not cheap: $180 plus a monthly subscription, but the main drawback with the BodyMedia device is the size. This is a chunky module on an elastic strap that you have to wear on the back of your upper left arm. You can hide it under a loose T shirt but there will definitely be a bulge under tighter clothes. Furthermore, if you have particularly delicate skin, you may have some irritation or even a pressure blister from the blunt prongs on the sensors. The tracker has to fit closely because it’s taking measurements directly from your skin, as well as recording your activity with an accelerometer.

That produces what BodyMedia claims is a 90 percent accurate calorie estimate, measuring activities like yoga and weight lifting that monitor with only an accelerometer can’t detect and certainly the calorie usage we measured was higher than with the Fitbit. Again it’s not waterproof, so you have to take it off to swim or shower.

Calculating your calorie burn, minute by minute – and your sleep.

Calculating your calorie burn, minute by minute – and your sleep.

It also estimates how long you spend in bed and how long you’re actually asleep; you don’t get details like the amount of deep and REM sleep you get but the overall measure of hours asleep was very similar to what we measured with the Zeo system (more on that later), and while the FIT Armband is a little chunky to wear at night it’s certainly easier to wear than the Zeo headband.

Snap the monitor out of the armband and connect it to your computer via USB to upload details to the BodyMedia site (it stores up to a month’s data but you’ll want to see it more often). You can also log what you eat on the Web site or using the iPhone or Android apps; like Fitbit, this lets you choose from a wide range of restaurant and pre-prepared foods, and you can enter details from the nutrition labels on foods or build up your own recipes. You have to enter all your meals for the day one by one, but you get feedback on not just how much you eat but whether you’re getting enough fiber. The dashboard shows your calories, activities, sleep and (if you type in the details) your weight or waist measurements as an overview or detailed charts for one day or one, two, three or four weeks (and you can click for more details on most reports). We also like the ‘personal bests’; the most you slept, the most activity you took in a day and so on.

The Fitbit is less intrusive to wear but if you’re serious about tracking your activity and diet in detail and you’re happy to wear something this bit, the BodyMedia FIT Armband is the best all-rounder.

  • pdesai2019
    I owned fitbit and I loved it. Unfortunately, it kept getting loose from my belt and eventually lost it. Company is aware of this problem but they still haven't come up with new version.