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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Fitbit Charge 4: The nudge you need to keep moving during quarantine

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I used to log a daily average of 7,000 steps on my wearable tracker pre-pandemic. Over 10,000 if I was running multiple errands.

Today, wearing a fitness tracker seems pointless, especially if you’re just staying at home, walking from your desk to the bathroom, to the living room, to the kitchen—logging a whopping 700 steps per day.

But it actually makes more sense to don a fitness tracker while at home.

It urges you to move

Leading wearable fitness tracker company Fitbit recently launched the newest member of its bestselling Charge family, the Charge 4.

And more than the usual steps counter and PurePulse 24/7 heart rate tracking system, which measures calorie burn throughout the day, the Charge 4 comes with the new Active Zone Minutes feature; the first device among Fitbit’s line of fitness trackers and smartwatches

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SMART TRACKER. Consumer electronics company Fitbit launches the latest addition to its bestselling Charge line, the Charge 4, which has built-in GPS, Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, Spotify control, and other smart features in one sleek wearable with seven-day battery life.
SMART TRACKER. Consumer electronics company Fitbit launches the latest addition to its bestselling Charge line, the Charge 4, which has built-in GPS, Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, Spotify control, and other smart features in one sleek wearable with seven-day battery life.

While counting steps and determining floors climbed offer a quick overview of your activity for the day—more steps means more active, right?—Active Zone Minutes “provides a more personalized measurement of how hard you worked during an energizing activity, beyond just steps.”

The metric is calculated using your age and resting heart rate. For reference, a normal resting heart rate for adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm); athletes may have lower resting heart rate close to 40 bpm.

According to health experts, lower heart rate is better because it means your heart muscle doesn’t work too much to keep a strong and steady rhythm. Exercising regularly lowers your resting heart rate.

Based on the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization guidelines, everyone’s default Active Zone Minute goal is 150 minutes per week or 22 minutes per day of moderate activity.

On-screen update lets you know if you’ve reached your goal, may it be the standard recommendation or a personal target you can customize in the Fitbit app.

Speaking of the Fitbit app, it now has a workout intensity map that provides a detailed breakdown of different heart rate zones during your GPS-enabled workout.

And speaking of GPS-enabled workout, Fitbit has finally built in GPS in its fitness trackers, the Charge 4 being the first. This means you can leave your phone at home when exercising outdoors, just select one of the six compatible workouts, wait for the GPS signal, and tap Start.

The Run Detect and Auto Pause options allow the device to automatically connect the GPS and record your workout once you start, for example, running, and pause when you stop for a water break.

During the exercise, Charge 4 shows your distance, pace, and time lapse on the screen. It will buzz once when you reach fat burn zone, twice indicates cardio zone, and thrice at peak zone.

But perhaps, the most obvious way Charge 4 and other Fitbit trackers help you stay active while stuck at home is their Reminders to Move hourly notification, which basically tells you to get up and move—ideally take 250 steps per hour. The reminder actually gets the job done, urging me to take a break and do a few laps around the house or get a glass of water in the kitchen.

For a monthly fee of P519, you can also access custom challenges (versus other Fitbit users), guided programs, and health and fitness content from various brands available in Fitbit Premium.

It helps you connect and disconnect

Overlapping boundaries between work and free time have led many homebound folks to become more glued than ever to their mobile phones, especially since they currently are our primary way to connect with others.

Charge 4 helps us take a phone break with its Notifications function for call, text, email, and calendar alerts, as well as Quick Reply feature—quite handy still, even if we’re not on-the-go. Swipe down on the clock face to view your notifications.

Meanwhile, the new Agenda feature on the device lets you access upcoming appointments, just sync your calendars to the tracker in the Fitbit app.

Fitbit Charge 4 offers functions that help wearers stay active, rest and relax, and go about their day more conveniently.
Fitbit Charge 4 offers functions that help wearers stay active, rest and relax, and go about their day more conveniently. 

Fitbit Charge 4 offers functions that help wearers stay active, rest and relax, and go about their day more conveniently.

But if you want to truly take a break from any updates, turn off the notifications feature by holding the left inductive button (Charge 4’s only physical button) and tapping the Do Not Disturb (DND) mode.

The device also boasts a couple of sleep tools that promotes better rest. Sleep Score—which can be viewed in the app and in Charge 4’s on-screen dashboard—provides daily insight into your sleep quality based on the amount of time spent asleep and awake, how much light/deep/REM sleep you got, and your sleeping heart rate.

What you will see on your device is your daily score when you wear it while sleeping. Fitbit says 90 or above is considered “excellent” and less than 60  is “poor.”

And since Fitbit promotes wearing the device in bed (make sure it’s a snug fit), it also has a Sleep Mode that lets you turn off notifications, disable the screen display, and lowers the screen brightness.

Smart Wake, first available on Fitbit’s smartwatches, is also on the Charge 4. This feature uses machine learning to wake you at the optimal time when you’re in light sleep. For example, if you set your alarm at 9:00 a.m., a gentle vibration will wake you up at the best time before the alarm set.

It’s an ideal device in the time of pandemic

We are strongly advised to reduce contact when outside: use digital payment options, don’t wear too many accessories where viruses can cling on to, and don’t touch your phone often.

Fitbit Charge 4 provides a no-touch payment solution with Fitbit Pay that you can use to pay for purchases. However, it cannot be used yet here in the Philippines as there’s no registered bank available in Fitbit Pay here in the country.

The Spotify Connect and Control feature lets you play, stop, skip, shuffle content, or like songs and choose the music output using the Charge 4. However, you must have a Spotify Premium subscription to enable this feature.

Finally, Fitbit Charge 4’s sleek design (measures less than half an inch), grayscale touchscreen, and sophisticated colors (black, rosewood, storm blue/black; Special Edition comes in granite reflective/black woven band plus a classic black band) make it a stylish gizmo to wear outside.

Since it’s water-resistant up to 50m, you can wash it after every wear.

Oh, the battery life is excellent as well. Fitbit claims a full charge can last you seven days, and the Charge 4 lives up to its promise—it even lasts eight days when used moderately.

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