I’ve used a number of activity trackers on and off for the last year and have concluded that all of them suit a purpose. Whether it’s getting someone to be more active by making them aware – with data – of their sedentary lifestyle or to the more advanced users who want to know in precise detail how many calories they’ve burnt during that hour of intense exercise.

Thankfully there are activity trackers that cater for both camps. When I’m in training I’m more in the latter camp and so I need a tracker that can fullfil a number of my needs. I’ve researched a number of different offerings and have concluded that the activity tracker best suited to my needs is the BodyMedia FIT LINK and here’s why.

1. Measures Calories Used While Stationary

Most activity trackers such as the Fitbit are accelerometers which mean they calculate activity and calories burnt by movement. This is fine if running is your thing but what about if you lift weights or use stationary equipment like an exercise bike? The BodyMedia’s patented sensor technology can calculate calories burn by analyzing movement via the accelerometer as Fitbit and other trackers do but goes much further by analysing both skin temperature and what BodyMedia calls Galvanic Skin Response, which measures sweat and its electrical conductivity.

iScienceSensors

Smart stuff! So regardless of the type of activity you’re doing from riding a bike to deadlifting a horse, the BodyMedia will give you an accurate measure of calories burned.

2. Accuracy

As illustrated above the BodyMedia is around 90% accurate across different exercises and the company is working on making it even more accurate. Its accuracy alongside other activity trackers has been documented by independent users across forums and blogs. Third-party endorsement is important when making purchasing decisions and the BodyMedia has a lot of them from people serious about their fitness.

3. Larry Smarr Endorses It

Larry Smarr is a pioneer of biohacking and used the BodyMedia for a year while calculating his daily calorific burn. Larry shared on Google Plus his love for the accuracy of the BodyMedia. If Larry recommends it you know it’s a great product.

4. Product Development

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 11.01.35 BodyMedia armbands aren’t the prettiest of wearable devices. Wearing a visibile one with a t-shirt brings stares from people on the street and having to explain to inquisitive friends and acquaintances why you’re wearing it often brings a raised eyebrow.

However, that’s about to change as BodyMedia announced at CES this year that it’s launching an updated body monitor¬†for the fashion conscience. The company also released information at the 2012 CES that it is working on a disposable adhesive patch that does the same as the BodyMedia Link but this has yet to launch.

5. MyFitnessPal Integration

When I’m tracking my nutritional intake MyFitnessPal is the app I use. It works brilliantly and the more it’s used the easier it is to input nutritional data, either by the barcode scanner or pre-loaded foods. It also integrates with the BodyMedia dashboard and app so you can track how many calories you’re consuming alongside how many you’re burning. A must for anyone who wants to lose, gain or maintain weight.

6. RunKeeper Integration

RunKeeper is an integral part of my training. I run outdoors a lot and use RunKeeper to track my times, pace and heart rate. Luckily for me both BodyMedia and RunKeeper integrate with one another allowing me to track my activity over both platforms.

7. It Tracks the ‘After Burn’ of High Intensive Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has numerous cardiovascular and fat burning benefits, and it’s been said that an individual’s metabolism speeds up in the short term after performing HIIT exercise. Although these examples are only an N=2 study¬†this lady found that her calorie burn had an increase on her average the following day of HIIT training and this BodyMedia user did also. I’m looking to integrate HIIT in to my training regime and will be interested to see if it is does pick it up.

For the swimmers amongst us (including myself occasionally) it’s a shame the BodyMedia isn’t waterproof. Maybe that’s in the pipeline? Regardless, in a year or so this blog post will be woefully out of date as activity trackers develop and sensor innovation continues to move at a dramatic pace.