Fitbit Encourage 2 assessment: A near-perfect introduction to health trackers

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Over the previous 12 months, many people have been remanded to our properties, binging TV exhibits, baking sourdough, and beginning at-home exercise applications. Maintaining with train wasn’t all the time straightforward. Actually, a examine carried out by College School London throughout lockdown discovered {that a} majority of individuals throughout all genders and socioeconomic statuses labored out much less. Rediscovering the motivation to maneuver will be laborious—it actually has been for me—so many are turning to exercise trackers to enhance their health journeys. 

The Fitbit Encourage 2 health tracker, the most recent entry-level providing from the step-counting stalwart, presents a light-weight and reasonably priced information out of a protracted pandemic rut. The $100 exercise tracker follows the Encourage 1 and Encourage HR with a number of key enhancements, most notably an prolonged battery lifetime of as much as 10 days, silent alarms, extra superior sleep analytics, and a heart-rate-based metric referred to as Lively Zone Minutes. The second-generation exercise tracker additionally contains an optical coronary heart fee monitor and computerized train recognition, although it skips the personalised reminders discovered within the Encourage 1. Total, the wealth of developments makes up for this function.   

The Fitbit Encourage 2 offers you perception into your day by day habits whereas encouraging you to maneuver for cardiovascular well being. Sporting it for roughly two weeks actually revealed lots about my very own diet, sleep, and train patterns. 

Fitbit Encourage 2 Health tracker design

Fitbit inspire 2 review
A easy, simple design that isn’t too showy. Carsen Joenk

In comparison with different well being tracker choices just like the Whoop Strap 3.0 or Garmin Vivoactive, the Fitbit Encourage 2 is minuscule: just one.5-inches lengthy, lower than 1-inch broad, ½-inch tall, and weighing lower than 1 ounce. For those who’re carrying health gear virtually nonstop for max suggestions, the low profile could make a world of distinction.

The Fitbit Encourage 2 comes fitted with a small silicone band (appropriate for wrists 5.5 to 7.1 inches), whereas a bigger one (meant for wrists 7.1 to eight.7 inches) is included. Eradicating the band is simple: Simply pull the silver quick-release lever and pull again to snap the band off. At first, my fingers couldn’t get a very good grip on the pins and lever, however I used to be in a position to get the brand new strap in place after just a few tries. The silicone bands are clean and sit comfortably towards the pores and skin, and the plastic buckle is simple to maneuver. And, if I wished to decorate it up relatively than tear it up throughout a exercise, Fitbit sells non-compulsory metallic mesh and leather-based bands beginning at $34.95.

The slim black physique of the tracker is smooth and, dare I say, cool. This health tracker’s discreet dimension and minimalistic design made it refined sufficient for on a regular basis put on. The Encourage 2 seems to be rather more costly than its price ticket would possibly point out. The backlit OLED show is crisp and clear, although visibility does fade a little bit within the solar. The touchscreen is responsive, which is useful when scrolling by options and settings. Further contact sensors on the edges assist you to soar again to the house display screen and entry different settings, like water lock and sleep mod

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Getting began

Earlier than you dive right into a exercise, you’ll must cost the Fitbit Encourage 2 and obtain the Fitbit app. At solely 9 inches lengthy, the USB cable leaves a lot to be desired: My health tracker needed to cost on the ground. USB extension cables can be found from different websites, like this one from Belkin, and run between $7 and $15 do you have to, like me, want a little bit extra slack. 

Fitbit Inspire 2 comparison to pen for size

To arrange your Fitbit account, you’ll must sync the well being tracker to a sensible system by way of Bluetooth; it’s appropriate with Apple gadgets working iOS 12.2 or greater and Android gadgets working OS 7.0 or greater. After you’re linked, you’ll fill in your top, weight, gender, and health objectives. Establishing the profile takes lower than three minutes, however diving deeper to set exercise objectives past, say, the usual 10,000 steps will be difficult. I needed to seek the advice of the Fitbit assist web page greater than as soon as to find just a few options however, as soon as discovered, making the tweaks was straightforward. 

I made a decision to set 4 private targets: train 5 days per week; sleep for 7 hours and half-hour every night time; take 10,000 steps a day to fulfill the step counter; and full 22 “Lively Zone Minutes” per day. A Fitbit-specific metric, Lively Zone Minutes equals the time you interact in heart-rate-raising workouts. I caught with the American Coronary heart Affiliation-recommended 150 minutes of average exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise as my total weekly aim. It’s also possible to set goal weight and weekly mindfulness classes.

Key options of the Fitbit Encourage 2

Regardless of all of the app’s deeper options, the “In the present day” homepage is the place I spent most of my time. It tracks and shows your day by day actions, resting coronary heart fee, steps taken per hour, and proximity to reaching your day by day objectives. It’s also the place you possibly can log water, meals consumption, and menstrual well being—when you select. 

The Encourage 2 depends mainly in your coronary heart fee to find out your sleep high quality, energy burned, and the rigor of your day by day actions. It shops coronary heart fee knowledge in 1-second intervals throughout train monitoring and at 5-second intervals all different occasions, compiling weekly knowledge about your resting coronary heart fee (RHR), respiratory fee, and coronary heart fee variability over 30 days. Monitoring your RHR helps the system actively determine and remove stressors (as an illustration, an excessive amount of caffeine) and measure health progress. Usually energetic folks have decrease RHRs, so when you discover a dip over time, it means you might be doing all the precise issues to develop into more healthy. It could take just a few days to parse by all the knowledge earlier than deciding on any routine modifications. 

Fitbit Premium

Together with all these included monitoring options, the Encourage 2 features a free, one-year subscription to Fitbit Premium, after which you’ll pay $9.99 a month or $80 a 12 months. Beginning with full entry could make it a bit tough to discern which components of the app are free and that are part of the subscription. 

screenshot of exercise data for a Fitbit Inspire 2 fitness tracker
Preserve an correct report of your well being knowledge. Carsen Joenk

Primarily, Premium offers you entry to further exercises, guided meditation classes, superior sleep analytics, and wellness studies (an summary of well being knowledge, stats, and charts compiled each 30 days that you would be able to share together with your physician). Whereas there’s a small choice of free video exercises, Fitbit Premium provides 150 video or audio routines from skilled trainers, searchable primarily based on time, tools wanted, train sort (like cardio or pilates), or goal muscle group (like abs and core). I attempted just a few 10-minute deep muscle exercises, which left me feeling challenged but succesful. 

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My favourite Premium function was the superior sleep analytics, which alone might make the renewal price price it. With out the paid subscription, you’ll see the sunshine, deep, and REM sleep you’re getting every night time, decided by coronary heart and respiratory charges. Fitbit Premium will compile an in depth Sleep Rating report with minute-by-minute knowledge, so you possibly can see when within the night time you had been in varied sleep levels, your coronary heart fee, time spent tossing and turning, in addition to the occasions you had been awake. This can assist you determine areas of enchancment. For instance, I believed I used to be getting no less than eight hours of sleep every night time; nonetheless, it turned out I spent near an hour, divided over a number of minute-long intervals, awake. Now I do know it’s important for me to get into mattress earlier to compensate. I additionally seen that if I had wine earlier than mattress, chances are high my restorative REM or deep sleep would dip. Fortunately, the battery does hit its promised 10-day lifespan, so I didn’t have to fret about charging in a single day.

Fitbit Encourage 2 day-to-day use

Premium subscription or no, the Encourage 2 delivers on its core promise: monitoring your health. I wore it whereas working, power coaching, doing HIIT exercises, and working towards yoga. The health tracker can be submerged in as much as 50 meters of water and log the gap you swim; I’m not aquatically inclined, but it surely did survive my showers. 

To supply correct cardio analyses, Encourage 2 lets you choose from greater than 20 several types of train. Navigating to decide on an exercise was complicated at first: That you must swipe up from the clock face, faucet “train,” scroll by the choices and faucet to start out monitoring. The watch dimension and sensor sensitivity result in unintended picks, and I realized by trial and error that pushing the aspect sensors is equal to “going again,” and you have to press and maintain “end” on the display screen to finish a exercise. If I forgot to pick out my exercise sort preemptively, the Encourage 2 would try to determine it for me. It precisely detected all my runs, however didn’t acknowledge at-home exercises like power coaching. 

sensors on the back of a fitbit
Fitbit Encourage 2 again sensors. Carsen Joenk

For these workouts I did, the Fitbit tracker logged my coronary heart fee, Lively Zone Minutes, and energy burned, which I might view on the watch face. Inside the app, I might see distances I ran, real-time tempo (or miles per hour), and a exercise depth map. The map recognized the place I put in essentially the most or least effort, which led me to vary my route, spending extra time in hilly areas. Although I used to be usually hitting my Zone minutes aim, this report led me to comprehend I used to be spending most of that point within the Fats Burn zone after I actually wanted to push myself into Cardio and Peak minutes for max outcomes.  

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The Fitbit app additionally presents an total cardio health rating primarily based on an estimate of a key health metric referred to as VO2 Max, which is a measure of how a lot oxygen your physique makes use of throughout train (the upper the quantity, the higher). The app assesses this primarily based on coronary heart fee knowledge throughout train and allows you to know when it is best to shoot for extra high-intensity cardio exercises.  

Further health tracker options

Although I discovered the exercise and sleep monitoring components of the Fitbit Encourage 2 significantly useful, the well being tracker additionally offers a useful nudge to maneuver when you’re sedentary too lengthy. For those who haven’t logged 250 steps per hour, the tracker will set off a fast vibration and a message. It’s also possible to customise when or when you get these reminders. 

It’s also possible to obtain vibrating alerts to telephone calls, texts, and calendar occasions. Although this method was additionally a bit difficult (I wanted setup help as soon as once more from the Fitbit assist boards), it was a helpful option to keep linked after I didn’t have my telephone in hand. I made frequent use of the tracker’s Do-Not-Disturb mode, particularly throughout work hours. And when you want much more chill, personalised guided respiratory classes can assist you decrease your coronary heart fee. 

Lastly, the Encourage 2 offers you entry to the Fitbit group, within the app or on-line. That is the place you possibly can share experiences with different Fitbit customers, discover present contacts, and be a part of teams to share objectives and passions comparable to weight reduction or mountaineering. It’s principally one other social community to watch, however an simply accessible help system might give some people a jolt of encouragement.

Who can buy the Fitbit Encourage 2?

The Fitbit Encourage 2 is the proper introduction to monitoring common train and exercise patterns. Compact and modern, it’s a good way to check constant health watch carrying with out breaking the financial institution. Whether or not you’re an train fanatic or simply kicking off a brand new routine, you’ll have all the mandatory options and accountability controls when you get oriented to the Encourage 2. For those who’re a sophisticated athlete in search of the most-accurate, greatest health tracker, Fitbit does promote extra superior fashions. Take into account the Cost 4, retailing for $130, which is a Fitbit with GPS to trace tempo and distance with out connecting to your telephone, SpO2 sensors for blood oxygen monitoring, an altimeter to log flooring climbed, and a function referred to as Good Wake, which makes use of knowledge evaluation to wake you up at an optimum time. Nevertheless, the Encourage 2 is among the greatest health watches for the typical, health-conscious individual trying to keep energetic. You’ll be able to snag it on their web site right here.

Carsen Joenk is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence School and a contract author specializing in well being, music, and expertise. She has been writing for Common Science since early 2020, contributing product critiques and suggestions.