Maps and GPS navigation
Although you need your phone to take advantage of GPS tracking, chances are you’ll have it with you anyway if you want to listen to music or stay connected like we all seem to want to do these days. I found the maps created by my activities to be accurate.
The Charge 2 is highly customizable. There are nearly a dozen “faces” you can choose for the band and, depending on which you choose, they display the time, cumulative steps for the day, heart rate, and of course the time and date. Tapping the screen will then scroll through distance, calories burned, active minutes, and floors climbed, all of which can be customized to display in the order you choose.
A nice feature of the Charge 2 is the reminder to move. You can set a window for when the reminders start and end. During this window, you’ll get a reminder 10 minutes before the end of an hour when you haven’t reached 250 steps, a very useful feature for those with desk jobs.
You can learn a lot about yourself by looking at your heart rate, and the app really allows you to dig into that information. You can take the long view, looking for patterns over weeks or months, or you can drill down and the app will tell you what heart rate zone you were in during various times of the day — fat burn, cardio, or peak. It also tracks your resting heart rate.
I was a little disappointed that the band didn’t automatically pick up on one of my workouts. I meet with a personal trainer once a week for an hour, and the band didn’t pick up that I was doing any kind of activity. To be fair, weightlifting isn’t one of the auto-recognized activities, but I would have thought my high heart rate would have prompted the band to recognize I was doing something. The key to auto-recognition seems to be continuous movement for more than 10 minutes minimum (this can be adjusted upward), which you aren’t really doing if you’re weightlifting. Fortunately, you can manually log activities in the app, which will automatically assign calories burned.
Alternatively, you can start and stop activity tracking on the band itself. There are a couple of ways to do this, and this is one of the benefits of the new screen functionality. You are given the option to choose up to seven “exercise shortcuts.” Tap the screen to choose the appropriate activity, then hold the button to start tracking — weightlifting included.
The Charge 2 is water resistant but not water proof. You can’t swim with it, and you’ll need to take it off to shower, but in my case, it’s a welcome break for my wrist.
Fitbit has really upped its game when it comes to sleep tracking, which is critical to overall health, as science continues to prove. Sleep tracking is automatic with the Charge 2. The resulting data is broken down into time spent awake, and in REM, light, and deep sleep stages. The resulting graphs are interactive and can be viewed in a couple of ways with more or less detail, depending on your preference.
Food tracking is also extremely robust, and the app is set up to help you track calories consumed and calories burned so you can stay on track with your weight loss, if that’s a goal. There are many common food items to choose from, or you can use the barcode scanner to customize your menu.
Something new is the “relax” function that will walk you through a guided breathing session of either two or five minutes. You can access it right from the band — no need for your phone. It’s a great way to get in a little meditation and mental health in our increasingly hectic lives.
Because I already had Fitbit on my phone and PC, I simply had to add a new tracker and delete the old one. If this is your first Fitbit, find the app that’s right for you in the app store — Fitbit is compatible with both iOS and Android operating systems. Other than that, the app is pretty intuitive. You’ll want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with it and exploring all of the various customizations that are available to discover what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to touch things on your screen. I’ve found this to be a good way to discover new functions. There is also a basic tutorial that I’d recommend watching if you’re a newbie.
December 12, 2017