A couple of weeks back, Fitbit South Africa launched the Fitbit Charge HR with an amazing race type event at Gold Reef City in Joburg. Split into two teams, the collective of journos, bloggers and other partners had the opportunity to get firsthand understanding of the Fitbit, including difference in heart rate before and after rides like the Anaconda. Yes, heart rates did generally rise.

Fitness and health is one of those areas that many a tech company has been exploring and the last two years have seen an explosion of apps, features and wearable devices all designed to help us track and monitor our fitness. I used the Fitbit Flex for over a year and, while it, and other tech like it, allows you to keep track of elements like number of steps, distance travelled, etc, they are only truly effective depending on how we use it. It is about how we utilise the data that they provide us to change our habits and, by extension, our health.

The Charge HR has addressed a couple of the shortcomings of the Flex, in particular the need to actively state when you’re going to sleep and when you wake up, as well as having no real measure of physical activity that doesn’t involve taking steps. By adding heart rate tracking technology, which monitors your heart rate at all times, resting and active, you are able to get a clearer understanding of your health and training.

In their press release, Fitbit lists the benefits of their PurePulse heart rate technology as follows:

  • “Monitor calorie burn – More accurately track calorie burn for non-step based workouts and more everyday activities. When you exercise, your muscles require a greater supply of oxygen and blood to burn calories. To meet this demand your heart beats faster. As such, your heart rate is a good measure of the calories burned by your body
  • Maintain intensity – Reach target heart rate to maintain exercise intensity to achieve your goals. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensityaerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week
  • Maximise training – Simplified cardio zones let you maximize performance and train smarter Real time heart rate and simplified zones ensure you are maintaining your workout intensity to improve cardio fitness
  • Optimise health – Track heart rate trends and resting heart rate for better health insights. As fitness improves, your heart becomes more efficient and is able to pump more blood and oxygen to your muscles. So, a decrease in resting heart rate, suggests improved health”

With the Fitbit Flex, I went through 3 straps due to tearing. The Charge HR has a sleeker, more solid strap that has a watch-type clasp but is still comfortable to wear day and night. In addition to tracking heart rate, steps taken, distance travelled, sleep (automatically) and floors climbed, it also links with your smartphone and vibrates when a call comes in, showing caller ID on the little screen. It also serves as a watch and you can set a silent alarm that ‘vibrates’ youawake.

The Charge HR’s battery is said to last for up to 5 days and, while it currently comes in black, blue will be coming soon. Recommended retail price is R2299 in various outlets as well as online HERE.

Surge_3QTR_Black_Steps_Ambient_NoShadow_72dpi copyAt the launch, the Fitbit team also dropped a little teaser around the Fitbit Surge which is expected in South Africa in April. Looking forward to that.


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