Happy new year! The more fun the holidays—and I hope yours were a lot of fun—the more you need your new year’s resolutions to get off to a strong start. Technology can help, with gadgets and accessories designed to inspire, encourage and guide you.
There are smartwatches that count your calories, measure your workouts and even warn you if your heart is beating unexpectedly hard, for instance.
Smart wearables let you perform an ECG on your wrist, or check your blood pressure in the background. And bathroom scales can give you more information than ever about your weight, fat content and more, even if they don’t always show your weight is going in the direction you want it to, for instance.
And, as a sidebar, I’ve also checked out some accessories like recovery footwear which, though there’s no electricity coursing through them, can be key to keeping your fitness goals on course.
5 Smart Health And Fitness Monitors
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple’s smartwatches have consistently led the pack, and the latest models are no different. The Ultra 2 is dazzlingly good, though it is quite big. If your wrist baulks at something this chunky, the Series 9 has almost all the same sensors inside and comes in smaller sizes. But the big screen is one of the delights of the Ultra 2, and its ruggedness is exceptional. The Ultra 2 also has a useful extra side button, handy for quickly launching the Workout app, for instance. There are plenty of workouts to choose from and the Watch can spot some activities so that if you forget to start an outdoor cycle workout, it can check in with you and see if you’d like your exercise recorded.
Health monitoring is key to this Watch, with heart rate sensors which can let you know if your ticker is suddenly going unexpectedly fast or slow, the capability to record an ECG on your wrist and blood oxygen tracking. Brilliant.
Google Pixel Watch 2
One of the best-looking smartwatches around, the cute circular screen on the Pixel is bright and pin-sharp. As well as tracking your heart rate and temperature, recording an ECG and analyze blood oxygen levels, it can look out for signs of stress, offering guided breathing sessions when it spots those signs in its Body Response feature. Google owns Fitbit, so the fitness metrics in the built-in Fitbit app are irreproachable and includes features like automatically starting and stopping workouts.
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
There are two models of the latest Samsung watch, Watch6 and Watch6 Classic. The Classic is the one I prefer, just because of its cool rotating bezel as a neat way of interacting with the device. There are plenty of health capabilities, such as sleep tracking with cute graphics (and a way to discover what kind of sleep animal suits you best), ECG and irregular heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking for more than 90 activities.
Note, if you have the U.K. version of this watch, it includes blood pressure monitoring (which needs to be periodically calibrated with a standalone blood pressure cuff) but this pressure has not been cleared by the FDA so does not apply to U.S. models. Still a great smartwatch even without this, though.
Best of the Rest
Fitbit’s distinctive squircle shape is elegant and attractive. This being a Fitbit, the physical tracking is excellent: comprehensive and accurate. This is a fitness tracker watch, with few of the apps and extras on rivals.
The most affordable Apple Watch has a lot going for it, though no ECG or blood oxygen tracking. And there’s no always-on display. But the fitness tracking and range of apps make it a key purchase.
The outstanding smart ring
Oura Smart Ring
From $299 from ouraring.com
Sometimes wearing a smartwatch or other device can be cumbersome, especially when wearing them at night to monitor sleep quality, for instance. The Oura Ring is made of titanium, and is so light (just 4g), so you quickly forget you’re wearing it. Oura (say it like aura, to rhyme with Dora the Explorer) is a Finnish brand and the ring is now into its third generation. The latest model, Horizon, is fully circular, lacking the distinctive bump of earlier models which led fellow wearers to nod to each other like members of a private club. On the under-finger side, there’s a tiny dimple that lets you know which way up it should be: the sensors sit there for best performance. It measures heartrate, body temperature and blood oxygen levels. Check the Oura app, and you’ll see how rested you are when you wake and, for the fittest among us, how hard you should work out today. By measuring metrics like heart rate variability, it can even predict when you may be getting sick—medial studies suggest it could provide early warning of illness, perhaps even of Covid. For optimum benefits, the $5.99 a month membership is a must. The Heritage ring costs from $299, the new Horizon is $349, though you can opt for pricier finishes like the glorious brushed titanium ($449).
The Blood Pressure Monitor
Aktiia 24/7 Blood Pressure Monitor
£179.99 from aktiia.com/uk
White coat syndrome is that thing where you get anxious when a doctor is taking your health metrics. If you suffer from it, you’ll know that your blood pressure can spike just because someone’s wrapping a cuff around your arm. The unassuming-looking Aktiia gets around this problem by measuring your blood pressure on your wrist in the background. You need to calibrate the band with a standalone cuff (which is supplied) once a month. The only downside is you can’t action a reading, it does it in the background when you’re sitting still. It’s not yet available in the U.S.
OOFOS OOMG Sport LS Shoe
This health option concerns recovery. If you’ve been running and have overdone it, or you suddenly suffer from the annoying and painful plantar fasciitis, then you need recovery footwear. The incredibly soft foam that is exclusive to OOFOS is different from the bouncy effect you find in performance shoes—this is to help you get better. It works brilliantly and is amazingly comfortable to wear. There are different styles from clogs to slippers to mules to trainers. Your feet will thank you.