Every step measured. Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch 4.

When I purchased the Fitbit Versa and the Apple Watch 4 my excitement for new electronic gadgets lasted for two weeks. I liked experimenting with the fitness trackers to see what they could do. As the newness wore off, I found myself interacting with them less often. I even became resentful at times of the reminders to be active. However, despite my resistance to exercise, I continue to be more active during the week than I was before I started wearing the trackers. In addition, I am more conscious of the calories and portions of the food I am consuming.

The biggest surprise was over Thanksgiving weekend. The total amount of calories I consumed was more than I should have for the day.  Everyone knows that as Americans we tend to eat way too much food during and after Thanksgiving. In the US, we have an abundance of food.  A celebration with family and friends can easily turn into an overindulgence. How quickly the calories added up on Thanksgiving was difficult to accept when it plotted out in graph form and shown to me on my Fitbit tracker. To my benefit, I was able to play nearly 2 hours of tennis to counter the extra calories consumed. I give the Fitbit tracker credit for making me aware of calorie input. If you are going to make efforts to be healthier, the types and amount of food consumed is an important aspect of that equation. I think that is why more athletic trainers and coaches prefer the Fitbit. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Fitbit is the more effective, economic and practical choice for fitness when comparing it to the Apple Watch 4.

Pumpkin Pie

My cons for the Fitbit include trouble setting up Pandora with the Versa. It was more complicated than it should be. When I finally did figure out how to get Pandora working on the Versa – my wireless AirPods were not discoverable by the Versa. Instead, it found the wireless sound bar under the television. The quality of sound was great, but will not help when I want to listen to music while running. I had to go to Apple support and learn how to pair the AirPods with a non-Apple device. Once connected, the quality of the sound was great. Other reviewers online have stated that their music didn’t play as clear and so far, I have not found that to be true. Another negative for the Fitbit Versa this week was a miss for the heart monitor. I was comparing the heart rate feature on the Fitbit Versa to the Apple Watch 4 after playing tennis. My rate was in the mid 120s. The Apple Watch was correct while the Fitbit Versa was showing a rate of 80 to 90 beats per minute. The Versa watch was not loose on my wrist so I could not explain why the Fitbit was off with the rate.

Last week the Apple Watch 4 released the ECG feature. It took over 60 minutes to download the updates. The first update was on the Watch itself and took about 40 minutes. I then had to update my iPhone which took another 30 minutes. I eagerly opened up the Watch to use the ECG feature. It gave me an introduction into basic heart rhythms comparing a normal sinus rhythm to an atrial fibrillation and gave many examples of how the ECG tracing does not detect heart attacks, other irregular rhythms and is not accurate when the rhythm is greater than 120 beats per minute. Although not intended to be an FDA approved measurement for your heart rhythm, at the end of recording your ECG, it allows you to keep a PDF and send it to your doctor. I am curious how many people with an AFIB diagnosis will be using the new feature on the Apple Watch to monitor their heart rhythm and how it will influence them to make decisions about how to treat. Will this new technology lead to more emergency room visits for abnormal rhythms? Will it lead to improved communication between patients and their doctors? I suspect in a year or so, we will know. Apparently, this new feature is available in the United States and is not an option for consumers in other countries.

I decided that I do not want to swim with my trackers on. While the benefits of swimming are well known for both aerobic benefits and muscle tone while being easy on the joints, it just is not my choice for exercise. Thus, I will not be comparing the two trackers with this feature.
I did set up the cellular feature with the Apple Watch 4. It is a great feature if you want to leave your phone at home. You can still be called via the Watch. I’ve used the watch as a phone only three times so far, but I do like the ability to do so. I can go for a run without having to worry about bringing the phone along, allowing for more freedom.  If you want this feature for a fitness tracker, then the Apple Watch is a great choice.

Health Care Professional

About Paul Connor

Nationally Certified Physician Assistant.
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