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Activity trackers are a popular choice for aspiring athletes. The Apple Watch, the varying FitBit models and half a dozen other products from Garmin to Jawbone to Nike all have associated mobile apps to assist in tracking your progress. With all due respect to the Apple crowd, this article focuses on non-watch devices, more specifically those with dedicated indoor cycling capabilities.
Activity trackers have an inherent limitation when it comes to indoor cycling, mainly because you aren't actually moving. Outside of attaching the fitness tracker to your shoe, most devices don’t give accurate credit for your work on a stationary device. In the past year, companies have attempted to address this short-coming. Here's a list of the top activity trackers for indoor cyclists:
1. Wahoo TickerX –The TickerX wraps around your chest and uses your phone as the display. The Wahoo TickerX distinguishes itself with the ability to track your cadence when used in tandem with the Wahoo Fitness App. User metrics, including fat burning, calories, and heart rate, are stored and shared with their mobile app. Your phone doesn’t need to be present to track statistics -- syncing can take place at any time.
2. Microsoft Band 2 – Tracks heart rate and calories with a dedicated cycling mode (spinning and outside) with a full color display. Microsoft’s presence at major cycling events demonstrates their commitment to the sport. This is the perfect device for the indoor rider with intentions of taking it outside one day.
3. Garmin VivoSmart – Garmin is synonymous with cycling. They don’t disappoint with their activity tracker as activities are logged and data synced via an app. The inclusion of an accelerometer (how fitness trackers work) makes tracking for impressive tracking of indoor rides, without having to wear it on your shoe. The VivoSmart can be worn with a heart rate monitor (shown at right) for greater accuracy. The latest model, VivoSmart HR+ (an update on the VivoSmart HR), has an integrated heart rate function.
4. Moov Now: You actually wear the Moov on your leg for best cycling results (it comes with a second, smaller strap for the wrist). It tracks cadence and sends results to your phone. The uniqueness of this device is in the coaching (it talks to you via earphone – they tell you to only wear one) it provides. This is only available for outdoor rides and indoor riding support is limited. The company is on record stating they will add more support for spinning. For the cyclist who goes indoors for the winter, this might be the perfect device for you. You won’t need the indoor support for a while anyways!
5. Nike FuelBand SE (Second Edition) – NikeFuel points are a proprietary measure used to track activity. Worn on the wrist, movement is captured and stored in the device. The FuelBand uses sessions (a block of time started and ended by the user) which tracks energy output over a specific period of time.
Placing the device on your shoe (locking it around your laces) and using a session is a nice, no-frills way to track your ride. [Nike has discontinued production of the FuelBand, it’s a great starter device as it can be brought at a discount.]
Expect good, but not perfect, results from activity trackers. Find a model you like, in terms of fashion and function, and then use it until it stops working and then upgrade. The technology is ever changing. Don’t be that person with the Blackberry of fitness trackers. Show your body you care and UPGRADE.