Picture the scenario – it’s the start of a New Year, the weather’s getting colder and you’ve just noticed a few extra pounds on the scale after having one too many mince pies in December.
Look we’ve all been there, and if you do want to start the New Year on the right foot with some healthier living then that’s great, and the best part is, there’s so much tech out there that can help you realise those ambitions. The only problem is – where do you start?
Well, having spent a ton of time reviewing fitness related tech over the years, here are my recommendations for the devices you need to check out if you’re planning to make a change in 2022.
When you think about tech and healthy living, there’s no bigger crossover than in smartwatches and fitness trackers, but of all the tech we’re going to cover here, the wearables market is easily the most crowded of the bunch.
Just as with smartphones, there’s a ridiculous amount of companies all trying to vie for your attention with their own device to help you stay fit, but in reality, there’s only a handful that are really worth your time.
For the best all-rounder, I recommend the Garmin Venu 2. It’s got great health and wellness tracking to keep an eye on your recovery, and it has offline Spotify support for listening to your favourite tracks. Plus, because it’s a Garmin watch, it’ll give you back plenty of data to keep track of your progress.
If you want something a bit cheaper then the Fitbt Versa 3 is an excellent shout – it too has offline music support but this time via Deezer, and Fitbit’s app does a great job of keeping things simple without ever throwing too many statistics you’re way, so it’s a good option for beginners.
With that said, if you’re an iPhone user then there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll probably get the best experience with an Apple Watch. You don’t have to spent a fortune though, as the affordable Apple Watch SE has the same great fitness software as the Apple Watch 7, packed with sleep tracking and GPS connectivity for post-run analysis. It’s a very easy watch to use and I find myself coming back to it in between reviews.
If you’re already in fairly decent shape (and props to you on that one), then there is a wearable designed with you in mind – it’s called the Whoop Strap 4.0. While it doesn’t have fancy things like a display or even any buttons, it does excel as a health monitor. When you’re wearing it, the Whoop Strap is constantly checking your heart rate variability, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels and even your skin temperature to let you know if your body needs to recover, or if you might be coming down with an illness.
The accompanying Whoop app also gives you plenty of workout and sleep data to let you know exactly how you’re performing and where you can improve. For amateur athletes, the Whoop Strap is a must-have.
With wearables out of the way, what’s next? Well, just as when you listen to music at work or on the go, a great soundtrack can really motivate you during a workout. I know I couldn’t get through a run without my playlists on hand, so with that in mind, let’s talk about the ideal headphones to get.
I’ve recently been using the UA Project Rock headphones and yes, Rock as in Dwayne the Rock Johnson who developed these headphones with JBL. They’re a rugged pair with IPX4 water resistance and soft cushioning around the ear cups that keeps the seal tight without ever feeling uncomfortable. They’re a bit on the pricey side at around £260 but they come with active noise cancellation, auto-pause when you remove the headphones and crucially, the sound quality is pretty good.
If you’ve become too accustomed to wearing earbuds, and over-ear headphones just don’t appeal, then might I suggest the LG UFP8 earbuds instead? These little guys use an oblong design, not too disimilar to Apple’s AirPods Pro, which allow them to stay snug and fit whilst out on a run. They’re water and sweat resistant with an IPX4 rating, and even though the sound quality is among the best that I’ve come across for a pair of true wireless earbuds, they’re significantly cheaper than the competition at £179. If you don’t want to go above the £200 mark then the LG UFP8 are a great shout.
Of course, I do have one other alternative in mind with the Shokz Aeropex (formely Aftershokz Aeropex). This headband uses bone conduction technology to let you listen to music without ever obscurring your ear canal, so you can still have complete awareness of your surroundings. They’re very handy for runners who may have to cross busy roads on their route, and their lightweight design means that you barely notice when you have them on.
Amongst all of the aforementioned wearables and headphones there is sure to be a pairing that suits you, but what about the extra accessories that don’t fit into either category. Well, if losing weight is a key part of your fitness plan then you might want to consider investing in a smart scale.
I use the Withings Body Cardio which has not only had a decent price cut over the years, but it’s also seen new features added as well. Sure, the scale can track your weight and muscle mass which can be viewed at any time in the Withngs app, but it also measures your heart rate to let you know your heart age in relation to other people within your age bracket. It’s a nifty feature that can be a decent indicator of exessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, two factors that play a huge part in maintaining ideal cardiovascular health.
As a final curveball product, if you want to leave your phone at home but you still want to listen to music whilst working out, then the Mighty Vibe is your best bet. This dinky audio player feels reminscent of the iPod shuffle, and while some of its design quirks feel a bit outdated, such as the need to use the accompanying app to connect the Vibe to wireless headphones, it still gets the job done and there’s something to be said about the level of focus you can achieve when your phone isn’t around to distract you.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into the options you have at the start of your fitness journey, but if you have any questions then give us a shout on Twitter or Facebook @TrustedReviews.