Are cheap ‘Fitbits’ any good?

‘Walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day is considered a moderately intense level of exercise’ – Michael Greger

I wasn’t all the sold on Fitbit’s when they first appeared. Mainly because I thought they looked like a court ordered electronic tag than a fancy-dan pedometer. Everyone who has one though seemed to really rave about them. My job recently has forced me to come mildly obsessed with data and trends and charts and such so off the back of that I started to become really interested in the built in pedometer on my phone and trying to aim for 10,000 steps a day. Problem is I don’t have my phone on me all the time, particularly at work so I was having to basically try and run a marathon a day to get my steps in.

For my birthday I was given a Shonco Fitness Tracker, or my ‘Faux-bit’ as I like to call it and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with it so far. I’ve reduced the steps to 8000 a day which is roughly 5K as 10,000 was proving damn near impossible. It comes in a variety of colours (mine is like a turquoise blue colour) and is nice a slim so doesn’t look too chunky on my skinny wrist.

It’s on the basic side, it doesn’t have a heart rate monitor in it or anything but that’s fine, all I really want to know if how many steps I do a day. It calculates steps, walking distance, calorie consumption and monitors your sleep quality everyday. As it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth you can set it to remind you by vibration when there are any notifications or phone calls coming in. Although the Bluetooth disconnects when its’ out of range from your phone the bracelet still tracks your steps or sleeping and updates retrospectively when you’re connected again. Oh it also tells the time too. Handy.

The data on the app on your phone is basic too but tells you everything you need to know, and breaking things down by daily, weekly and monthly data although one downside is it only shows you the current day/week/month, you can’t go further back and compare months or weeks, which is a shame.

Charging is easy, the band pulls apart to reveal a usb port that you can just plug into any computer. It takes about 30 minutes to charge fully and lasts about 3 days. The app that comes along with it is free on Android and iOS and although it means I have to keep my Bluetooth on and have the app running in the background all day I haven’t noticed it significantly reduce the battery life on my phone.

The main question with any of these things I guess is does it actually work? Well functionally it’s pretty accurate, however my advice would be to only actually wear it when you’re on the move, for example it thought I’d done over 1000 steps while straightening my hair one morning. It certainly encourages me to walk around more. I’ve started going out for walks at lunchtime if the weather’s nice and I walk the 1km to the gym now whereas I’ll be honest I used to take the car. I go to the gym often as it is so it’s not like I live a completely sedentary lifestyle but I’ve lost weight every week I’ve had it since my birthday so I think it is assisting on keeping me more active.

My favourite part though is the sleep data (I do love my sleep!), it calculates your quality of sleep based on your movement during the night and works out how many hours deep sleep and how many hours light sleep you’re getting per night. Makes it really easy to spot the nights I was drunk….

So it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a fitbit, but it is also only £20 instead of £70 so if you’re more worried about price than you are data analytics (or accuracy) it’s a decent enough substitute and will encourage you to get your steps done for the day!

Get yours here 

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