One Month With the Fitbit Charge 2

Wednesday May 31 | BY |
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Heart rate monitoring even works on my hairy arm.

Heart rate monitoring even works on my hairy arm.

 

For the past month, I’ve been testing out the new Fitbit Charge 2.
In case you aren’t familiar, FitBit is the world’s leading fitness tracker company. I’ll explain what this thing does and why I think owning one could improve your health and fitness.
I’ve been a long-time user of Fitbit, using their tiny “One” to track daily steps.
However, I’ve never been so happy with the One because of its form factor and the fact that it lacks some key features. First of all, I regularly lost the one, and finding never was so easy! It was too small and was meant to be kept inside a pocket. You can imagine how easy it is to lose a device like this.
First realization: the “watch” form factor makes a huge difference. You can see at a glance how many steps you’ve walked, your heart rate, and other vital information.
Now onto the Fitbit Charge 2. This is a fitness tracker with a watch form factor, without really being a watch. It can track your daily steps, heart rate, floors climbed, calories burned, daily mileage and other fitness activities. It also has a few basic “watch” features that you can use or not, such as call and text notification.
Now, why would you need a fitness tracker?
Basically, to help you stay more active by setting daily goals. Also, tracking improvements in your health over time.
Let me go into each main feature of the Fitbit Charge 2 and my experience using the device for a month.
The Fitbit App
First of all, the main draw of owning a Fitbit device is the app. It’s a fantastic resource to track all of your health information! You can set goals, view your sleep quality, track exercise, see how your fitness improves, and many other features I won’t have time to cover in this article. I find myself using the app a lot as a constant source of motivation.
Steps
An essential feature of the Charge 2 is tracking steps. A pedometer does this, but now you go without the hassle of clipping something to your belt or carrying a device in your pockets. Your goal should be to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. When you hit your goal, the Charge will buzz and congratulate you. You’ll also receive a few reminders on your phone throughout the day to encourage your 10K. The daily step goal is customizable so that you can set any daily minimum you’d like.
Since using the Charge, I have added about 10,000 steps to my weekly average. So it has encouraged me to be more active. My average is now close to 15,000 steps a day!
Active Minutes and Exercise
The Charge counts your “active minutes,” which are periods of moderate activity done for 10 minutes or more. It also automatically tracks certain activities like running and biking. It can connect to your phone’s GPS to give you more data on your activities.
Heart Rate
The most exciting feature of the Charge 2, for me, is the heart rate monitoring, which is surprisingly accurate. I find it so cool to be able to know what my heart rate it at any time of the day at a glance.
But in practical terms, heart rate monitoring can help you gain some real insights into how your health is evolving. You can tell how long you’ve spent in a particular heart rate zone during the day, and the app also calculates your resting heart rate and gives you a graph on how it’s evolving over time.
Sleep Tracking
Because of the heart rate monitoring, you can use the Charge 2 to track your sleep accurately. Now, it automatically analyzes your sleep cycles and gives you a graph in the app. It even tracks long naps!
What’s exciting about the Sleep monitoring is that in essentially does what would previously cost thousands of dollars in a sleep lab using complex equipment. Sure, it’s not the same, but it’s surprisingly accurate.
Now only does it know how long you sleep (vs. time awake), but also exactly how much time you spent in each sleep stage. And the graphs generated are beautiful and insightful.
So how does FitBit know how much time you spend in each sleep cycle?
Essentially through your movement and your heart rate.
Why in the world would you want to track your sleep?
Well… why wouldn’t you want to? You can see exactly how certain behaviors influence your sleep over time.
I’ve learned some incredible insights through sleep tracking.
For example, I’ve noticed that when I sleep for a shorter period, for instance: five hours, that the cycle that gets hacked off is not REM or deep sleep, but “light” sleep. So that means that this sleep is quickly regained via a nap later during the day.
If you know a bit about the sleep stages (there are some good books on the topic), you can use this information to customize a better sleep schedule.
For example, if you notice that you lack deep sleep, then a nap in the afternoon will probably help you. However, if you lack REM sleep, then going back to bed in the morning or increasing your morning sleep time will help you. If all you’re needing is extra “light” sleep, then a power nap or two during the day will get you back up to speed.
Other Features
There are a few other key features to the FitBit, but I mainly I found that the most useful ones are steps walked and floors climbed, heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking.
I’ll continue using the FitBit Charge 2 now that this one-month experiment is over. Compared to a smartwatch, it’s attractively priced. Check it out on Amazon.
Frederic
PS: If you’d like me to review a product for the website, please let me know by replying to this message!
Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

1 COMMENT ON THIS POST

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  1. Elena says:

    Frederic, great overview and useful info! Of course, I am looking for more reviews like that one:-)
    Thank you!

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