Which fitness band is best for you?

This post comes from Stephanie Koske at our partner site Zing.

I find myself face to face with all sorts of life-changing decisions these days.

Hit the snooze button? Or rise early for a morning workout?

Hop in the elevator? Or take the stairs?

Binge-watch “Breaking Bad” on Netflix until the crack of dawn? Or hit the hay before 10:00 p.m.?

Order the beer-battered fish tacos? Or opt for the grilled salmon with vegetables?

You’re right: these aren’t life-changing decisions, per se. (Though I have had some fish tacos I’d consider COMPLETELY life changing.) But when you consider that making healthier and smarter choices truly can make a difference in your well-being – and even add years to your life – picking the stairs over the elevator seems much more sensible.

It’s not always that easy, though, especially when it comes to putting the remote – and an overflowing bowl of Fritos – down in the middle of a particularly RIVETING episode. Making smart choices and building healthy habits both take serious commitment, and it can be difficult to stay on track without someone to keep you motivated and accountable. But maybe it’s not someone we need to keep us on the straight and narrow. It’s something, like the wearable, smartphone-compatible fitness trackers currently on the market, and on the wrists of everybody and their mother (including my own … now I really feel behind the times).

That’s where my next tough choice comes in: Which fitness tracker bracelet would benefit me most? If you, too, are in search of one of these popular gadgets, check out these overviews of the Nike+ FuelBand SE, Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP to figure out which one is right for you.

Nike+ FuelBand SE

Price: $149

Band color options: Black/black, black/lime green, black/red, black/hot pink

Battery life: 1–4 days

Here’s how it works…

Nike+ FuelBand SE measures movement for nearly any activity – from cycling to raking leaves – and converts it to FuelPoints (Nike’s universal metric) based on the intensity of your workout. With its sleek display, you can view your steps, calories burned, hourly “move” reminders and time right on the band. Nike+ FuelBand SE syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth to its namesake app for Apple devices only (not currently compatible with Android), which also allows you to share your accomplishments on social media and connect with your friends by challenging them to daily FuelPoints competitions.

The Nike+ Sessions feature helps you understand which activities earn you the most points (say, mowing the lawn vs. walking the dog) and helps you monitor harder-to-track, non-step based actions. When you want FuelBand to differentiate between your regular movement and specific workouts or activities (like yoga), you can press a button on the band to begin a session. Each session gives you a more detailed look at the FuelPoints earned each minute.

Fitbit Flex

Price: $99.95

Band color options: Black, teal, lime green, hot pink

Battery life: 3–5 days

Here’s how it works…

You’ll wear your Fitbit Flex all day – even in the shower – while it tracks your steps, distance and calories burned. By night, the band monitors your sleep patterns and wakes you silently in the morning. All the stats are synced wirelessly with your computer and Fitbit smartphone app for Apple and Android devices (along with MyFitnessPal to enter your daily food choices and RunKeeper to log your workouts), and you’ll have access to graphs, charts and other tools that help you monitor your improvement.

With the Flex, you’ll know if you’re meeting your goals, and you’ll see how your stats stack up against family and friends! LED lights on the band indicate your progress toward your goals throughout the day, and you also have the ability to share your stats and compete with others on Fitbit’s leaderboard.

Jawbone UP

Price: $129.99

Band color options: Black, blue, light gray

Battery life: 10 days

Here’s how it works…

Jawbone UP’s motion sensors track your steps, calories burned and sleep quality, along with your active and idle time. Unlike the FitBit Flex and Nike FuelBand’s wireless technology, this band plugs into your smartphone’s headphone jack and syncs with the UP App for Apple and Android devices. Despite the lack of a digital display, Jawbone UP still keeps the pep in your step with its built-in idle alert that gently pulsates on your arm when you’ve been inactive too long and its smart alarm that wakes you at the optimal moment in your sleep cycle.

The UP App’s Insight Engine analyzes your stats to help you discover connections and patterns in your activities. Along with its easy-to-use meal log feature and mood tracker, it also celebrates your milestones and suggests daily goals based on your habits.

Decisions, decisions. All three fitness trackers will help you measure your progress and manage your stats and, when used correctly, can keep you motivated to make healthy changes and build lasting habits. But while they’re alike in that respect, many of their key features differ and make my choice a tough one. Nike+ FuelBand SE doesn’t have a sleep feature like the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP. Fitbit Flex lacks a built-in alert to remind me to move like the Nike+ FuelBand SE and Jawbone UP. And the Jawbone UP doesn’t accurately track non-step based activities (say, Pilates) like the Nike+ FuelBand SE and Fitbit Flex. It’s a toss-up!

Do you use a fitness tracker? Tell us which one works best for your lifestyle!

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4 Responses to “Which fitness band is best for you?”

  1. Anonymous

    Thanks for the great responses, guys. I’m going to have to look into the Jawbone Up24, Garmin Vivofit and Atlas Wearable bracelets a bit further!

    It sounds like you’re getting great results, Jon – it’s nice to hear it’s making a difference in your daily activity. Hope I’ll experience the same!

  2. Anonymous

    I have the Jawbone Up24 which is the 2nd edition of the band. I love it. I am fairly active but sit at a desk all day for work. It’s amazing to see how little I move around during the day. I am definitely “addicted” to reaching my daily goal for activity. My sleep is tracked as well and I can more better relate when I’ve had a good night sleep vs a bad night sleep.

  3. Anonymous

    I currently have the fitbit One (not a band) and have been considering the fitbit force until it was recalled. I recently saw the new garmin vivofit and it looks quit impressive. I especially love the year+ battery life. I guess I will wait until my One takes a trip through the washing machine before I’m in the market for a replacement.

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