Fitbit Charge 5 the most advanced health and wellness tracker
June 25, 2022
Consider what you and the world have endured over the past two years. There’s no better reason to jump on the health and wellness bandwagon. If you’re seriously pondering trading in that wristwatch for a health and fitness tracker, then the latest Fitbit Charge 5 is the one to take along for the ride. It may help you turn over that new leaf, helping you keep a pulse on your stress, heart health fitness, typical daily activities and overall well-being, regardless of your age or daily activity level.
Fitness trackers have come a long way since the pedometer, the original step-counter that’s gone the way of Sears, Blockbuster video and the dodo bird. Ownership and utility are no longer just for obsessive health nuts and those who simply want to shed weight, get fit or simply get in their 10,000 steps a day.
Even better, newer devices are no longer big, clunky and odd shaped – in fact, they’re downright stylish – like a typical wristwatch. And now they’re affordable. To top it all off, they’re app-enabled and can easily connect wirelessly to hundreds of devices, such as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets for even greater functionality.
Redesigned added functionality
The latest iteration of the Fitbit Charge series, the Charge 5 has taken health and wellness tracking up a huge notch. It’s been redesigned, maintaining for the most part the functionally of the Charge 4, its predecessor. It gets a new body and an entirely new look. Gone is the plastic housing, swapped for a still sleek and sturdy slightly thinner and rounder stainless-steel case. The greyscale touch screen and side button are a thing of the past, replaced with a colour AMOLED screen which is twice as bright, and which you can now see much better in direct sunlight, and a plethora of new coloured watch faces.
EDA stress-monitoring and ECG
Its two largest enhancements by far are the EDA sensor, which measures your body’s stress response and its ECG capabilities, a test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. The former measures stress by monitoring even the most minute changes in the sweat glands of your fingers through a simple two-minute test. The latter, a 30-second test, records electrical signals and looks for signs of AFib – atrial fibrillation – an irregular heart rhythm that might necessitate a conversation with your doctor.
It already has a built-in heart rate sensor that measures your pulse 24/7. You can optionally set up monitoring to alert you if your heart rate goes outside a desired range. While many factors can affect your heart rate, a high or low heart rate may be an indication of a heart condition that requires medical attention.
Beyond heart health, the Health Metrics dashboard in the Fitbit app offers a holistic view of other key wellness metrics. These include your breathing rate, variations in your skin temperature and SpO2 , a measurement to estimate your blood oxygen saturation level while you sleep. Active Zone Minutes can also alert you to a target heart rate during a workout. With the Premium app, you can also track long-term trends and personal ranges.
Some of the other new features include a Water Lock, so the screen will not illuminate, wasting valuable battery power when in the water, an Always-on mode if you want to continually monitor your stats while working out without the display turning off.
Other features added to the Charge 4 model in 2020 and still present in the Charge 5 are built-in GPS functionality added to keep track of your location-based workouts, the ability to save your data, navigate through adventures in real time, share the journey with friends and family and, on occasion, even leave your phone behind. And Sleep Mode turns off notifications and disables the screen, so you’re not disturbed at night.
Fitbit never sleeps, but it can keep tabs on you when you do. Ever wonder how much deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep or how much time you’re awake during the night? The app tracks that.
A lifting of the wrist quickly displays the date and the number of steps taken. Tap it again and see your heart rate and again for the distance travelled today, calories you’ve burned and more. A quick swipe gives easy access to a stopwatch and a battery indicator that gives a visual and a percentage of battery life remaining, so you know when it’s time to recharge. What you see and when will, of course, depend on which of the more than 20 virtual watch faces you select from the companion app.
Functionality beyond health and wellness
Beyond health alerts and tracking of your activities, the Fitbit shines when partnered with a smartphone or tablet. From the app’s dashboard, you can set fitness goals, track workout routines and embark on new challenges. The app offers weight and nutrition guidance and tools, and measures your hydration.
You can also use it for some of your daily work or home-related activities.
Alarm alerts and message capabilities
Functions of the Fitbit I’m now hard pressed to do without. and you might be too, are alarms, alerts and messaging capabilities. While you might think of these as redundant smartphone features, having them built in is a definite plus – especially if your phone isn’t handy.
Alarms are handy for more than just a morning wake-up. They can be used to alert you of an appointment or perhaps a reminder to take medications. And instead of a loud racket disturbing the entire household, your Fitbit will gently vibrate to notify you. And it has a snooze button as well.
Fitbit can also be configured to receive notifications. It will vibrate and, with a quick glance, you’ll see calendar alerts, text messages and who’s calling your phone. This can be extremely handy, especially when pulling out your phone is inconvenient or just not a good idea, You’re also able to accept or reject a phone call – of course, there’s no mic or speaker to take the call. If you have an Android phone, you can also use your Fitbit to send back quick auto-replies.
And finally, another handy feature is FitBit Pay, enabling you to make contactless payments from your wrist – if it’s supported by your financial institution. (There are only a select few in Canada).
Battery life is rated at seven days without recharging. Results will depend on many factors, including display use and GPS connectivity, amongst others. I’ve been typically getting about four or five days.
This is just an insight into some of the vast number of features and benefits of the Fitbit Charge 5. There is also a full array of accessories and a wristband to suit any taste.
If you want to step up your health and wellness gig with a little added functionality and are not necessarily in the market for a full-fledged smartwatch like a tablet shrunk down to fit on your wrist, then the Fitbit Charge 5 is certainly the charm regardless of age or level of activity.
It is important to note that these types of devices are designed for general wellness, and certainly not a replacement for proper medical attention.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is available in three colours and retails in Canada for $199.95 and includes six-month free trial of the premium app membership.
About Greg Gazin
Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger and podcaster, and has been a contributor to Active Life Magazine since 2016. He also contributes to canoe.com and Troy Media. gadgetguy.ca