Straight to the Bar

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7 Health & Fitness Monitoring Devices
Posted By Scott Bird


This week we’ll be holding part II of the ‘Future of Fitness‘ twitterchat (if you missed Part I, there’s a brief summary here).

Ahead of the discussion – which will be featuring the insights of Personal Trainer Kirk Fontaine – I’ve compiled a list of several relevant gadgets that are currently on the market. I invite you to leave a comment below, and tell us about your own experiences with them (and any others that you’ve come across); and to join us for the twitterchat. Really looking forward to it.
In the meantime, here’s a brief look at 7 Health & Fitness Monitoring Devices.

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Nike+ GPS

Nike+ GPS

The original Nike+ was essentially a wireless pedometer, specifically designed for running enthusiasts. Embedded in the shoes, it passed information to an iPod or iPhone which was worn by the runner.
The Nike+ GPS uses the phone’s GPS to provide similar information – quite accurately – with your own choice of footwear.

Note that if you’re not using an iPhone, you’re limited to the original Nike+ system (using an iPod as your display), with much the same information being tracked – running duration, distance, calorific expenditure and so on.




RunKeeper provides similar information to the Nike+, again using the ‘phone’s GPS. This includes the distance run, time taken and average speed; with the whole lot plotted on a map.

And as with the Nike+ offering, your daily running details can be tracked in your profile; and shared with your friends.




FitBit is a small clip-on device, based around an accelerometer, that monitors your physical movements throughout the day. This data is used to provide feedback on your sleep patterns, exercise habits and a whole lot more.

The FitBit is wirlessly linked to a USB basestation, and whenever you’re within range (currently about 15′) it’ll upload your latest data to an online profile. This lets you see long-term trends, and make adjustments accordingly.
What’s more, it’s deeply integrated with some of the other products listed here; particularly RunKeeper. And a freely available API will doubtless see many others following shortly.

Jawbone Up

Jawbone’s ‘Up‘ Wristband

Jawbone’s ‘Up‘ Wristband

Although it won’t be released until next year, Jawbone’s ‘Up‘ Wristband looks to provide similar functionality to the FitBit. No screens, wear it all day – nice and simple.

Withings Scale

Withings Scale

Withings Scale

The Withings Scale is a standard digital scale – measuring your weight and estimating fat levels – with the ability to transmit that data wirelessly to an online profile. This profile can either be kept private, or shared with others as a sort of external impetus to change.

As with the FitBit, this information can be shared with other applications if you choose – chief among them again is RunKeeper. The API ensures that there are many others on the list, with more following shortly.

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor is easily the most stylish personal Blood Pressure Monitor available.

This device connects directly to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, tracking measurements over a period of days, weeks or more. Trends are displayed using a similar application to that used by – unsurprisingly – the Withings Scale.




Zeo is a more comprehensive version of the FitBit’s sleep component; designed to give you a better understanding of your sleep patterns.

Comprising a wireless headband, bedside display, online analytical tools, and an email-based coaching program; the Zeo lives by the principle that if you can measure it, you can improve it.

NB : there are also a number of sites that interract with many of these devices and present their data in various ways. These include the extraordinary PatientsLikeMe (PLM), Vitality City, and Google Health (now closed, but I suspect it’ll be reappearing in an updated form soon).

As you can see, there are plenty of ways (well, 7 anyway) to keep track of various aspects of your health & fitness. And as always, I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Which ones have you used? What would your perfect monitoring device do/look like?

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.


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Written By Scott Bird
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