Everyone Active’s Guide to Wearable Technology

Apps, gadgets, clothing, websites, and social networks have firmly rooted themselves in our daily workout routines, and wearable tech will only continue to become a greater fitness presence.

They are the best way to track how your body’s doing. We’re talking smartwatches, smart bands, running watches and even biometric sports clothing. They enable you to check up on your own stats, from steps, workout intensity and stress management to food and sleep tracking.

Wearables can help everyone from beginners completing their first Couch to 5K run, to hardcore gym addicts obsessing over that dream body fat percentage. But the same golden rule applies to everyone – you want an affordable, accurate device that works with an app which will show your progress and motivate you. Here’s some top tips to help you choose your first bit of wearable tech. Welcome to the future of fitness.

  • You need something light and comfortable to wear, that has the right sensors and that has a good battery life so you won’t end up abandoning it when you must charge it up every single day
  • Day-to-day wearables are great for general activity, but if you’re a swimmer, a runner or a cyclist, don’t be afraid to get a specific piece of kit. That’s the real beauty of wearables – they can come in extremely specific form factors to suit individual sports
  • Make sure the wearable is compatible with your phone. Most wearables rely on syncing to your smartphone or computer. If it’s your phone, chances are you will need an iPhone or Android phone (Samsung, HTC, LG and, more recently Sony). You may also need to update the software on your phone before you can get things up and running

Chest Strap vs optical wrist sensors

The biggest battleground is now chest straps vs wrist devices, the latter of which use optical technology to “see” the blood pulsing through your veins. Optical sensors are integrated into most new running watches and fitness trackers from the likes of Garmin and Fitbit.

Debate rages about accuracy, so we will put it here plainly and brutally. Chest straps are more accurate, and wrist devices will struggle when you’re really pushing hard. However, optical wrist devices are far more comfortable and convenient, and if you’re running steadily or training in the gym they should do the job just fine.