Fitness wearables are far from flawless when it comes to really helping us live healthier lives.
Still, many people swear by their Fitbit’s impact on how much they move throughout the day, or love how their heart-rate monitor allows them to train in target heart-rate zones for efficient fat burning and muscle building.
And there’s a ton of innovation happening in the realm, with lots of “firsts” being introduced into the category—from sports bras that monitor breathing to devices that track stress and recovery. Here are five fitness wearables should definitely know about this fall.
The OMbra ($169), made by wearable tech leader OMSignal, is the first sports bra that comes with a built-in high-tech heart rate monitor capable of monitoring both exertion and breathing. The accompanying app incorporates those stats with your distance and stride to provide suggestions on how to adjust your pace and breathe more efficiently to train smarter and prevent injury.
Think of Vi ($279) as a smarter, much fitter Siri. The creators are billing it as the first “AI (Artificial Intelligence) trainer,” since she’ll get to know your workout habits and coach you to improve your training and reach goals. The system consists of biometric sensing headphones (the inner ear is actually a great spot to get heart rate readings) and an app. When you head outside or hop on a treadmill for a run, it will monitor your heart-rate, pace, and more, and Vi will offer coaching cues based on your performance. She may tell you to speed up or slow down, for example, and you can ask her questions like how far you’ve gone or what your pace is. In other words, no more watch tapping while you’re trying to focus on the path ahead. She also gathers data from any other apps you’re using like Apple Health and Spotify, so she’ll know a ton about your habits and you can do things like ask her to play a specific song for you. Vi is expected to be available in December.
The Nike+ Run Club App, which recently got an upgrade, is the MVP of all running apps, and the brand-new Apple Watch Nike+ ($369-399) integrates its smart features into a wearable that makes it even more useful. Other big-deal new features for runners: it has a brighter display that makes stats easier to see even with a glare and has its own GPS so you can (finally!) leave your iPhone home. The Apple Watch Nike+ has a really athletic look, in combos of black, white, and neon green with a perforated band for breathability, so it’s best for fitness gear lovers (especially those who swear by the swoosh)—and will be widely available in late October.
for the seriously stressed
A new wave of wearables is focusing not on how fit you are physically, but how well you’re managing stress, a measurement that’s just as important for long-term health. Caeden’s Sona ($179) is the most innovative in the category, measuring heart-rate variability to track how well you respond and adapt to daily stressors and offering strategies to help you do better, namely in-app breath-focused meditations that are simple and easy to work into your day. The Sona is also one of the most stylish wearables to hit the market (and comes in gold, rose gold, and gunmetal!) and provides basic physical activity tracking, too, to make sure you’re moving enough.
for serious athletes (and wanna-bes)
Olympic and professional athletes have been training using Whoop ($500) for a while now, and the results have been impressive (think behavioral changes like sleeping more and drinking less, which led to serious performance gains). The comfortable band measures daily strain and sleep to give you a sense of how well you’re recovering from workouts and everyday stress, so you can push harder or pull back for optimal training. You’ll also gain insight into how hard you’re really working during sweat sessions and how much those five margaritas affect your sleep (and therefore recovery) the following day. Whoop will become available to the general public for the first time around the holidays, but after announcing a pre-order period earlier this year, there’s already a wait list to buy it, so you’ll have to wait to snap it up as a gift for your CrossFit-obsessed data geek husband.
Are you excited to try any of these new wearables or is there another that’s really changed your habits and boosted your health? Share with me in the comments!