5 Health Trackers That Really Work

Tracking how well you eat, move and sleep is a great way to lose weight and get fitter. Here, new body monitors that can really help.

By Judy Jones
weight losstracking fitbit philips directlife gruve bodymedia armband zeo sleep
(Clockwise from top) 1. Bodymedia Fit Armband BW 2. Philips DirectLife 3. FitBit 4. Gruve 5. Zeo Personal Sleep Coach
Photograph: Levi Brown

TRACKS Body acceleration along three planes: up and down, forward and backward, and sideways
COST $149 for the tracker package, which includes 12 months of personal coaching via e-mail; directlife.philips.com
The Directlife is waterproof, making it the only device in this group that you can use while swimming (it’s also one of the safest for wearing near toilets). Instead of numbers, this simple plastic square displays a string of lights that quickly show how close you are to achieving your daily activity goal. After a weeklong assessment period, you connect the tracker to your computer to get a readout, along with a personalized 12-week program of gradually increasing activity levels and managed calorie intake. Although the DirectLife doesn’t feel like a loyal sidekick, the program as a whole offers one major advantage over its competitors: The price includes the services of a live coach. My mentor e-mailed me at least once a week with advice, encouragement and answers to my fitness questions.
BUY IT IF You need a detailed exercise plan and a support system.

TRACKS Body movements, including very small ones, in all directions
COST $200, which includes a one-year Web subscription; muveinc.com
Inspired by the work of Mayo Clinic researcher James Levine, MD, PhD, a leader in the study of non-exercise-activity thermogenesis—the calories we burn daily through everyday movements, such as fidgeting—the Gruve takes a minimalist approach to self-monitoring: It aims simply to get you off your butt. The teardrop-shaped clip senses movement, whether you’re standing up, sitting down or bobbing for apples. As you accumulate activities throughout the day, it flashes a sequence of colors that lets you know how far you’ve come and how much more apple bobbing you’ll need to do to reach your calorie-burning goal. If you sit still for too long, the tracker vibrates, gently reminding you that you might want to wear a swimsuit again someday.
BUY IT IF You want to lose weight without doing traditional forms of exercise and don’t mind receiving a nudge or two (or three . . .).

TRACKS Steps taken, calories burned, hours of sleep and more by measuring body temperature and galvanic skin response (sweat)
COST $249 plus up to $11 for a monthly Web subscription; bodymedia.com
I wish I loved it more than I did. This armband, which was worn by The Biggest Loser contestants, takes an amazing 5,000-plus readings every minute of every day; the online Activity Manager provides a running tally. Bluetooth wireless technology lets you log in foods and get real-time stats on your smart phone. So much information! So much charging, pairing and synching! Too bad I found it so exhausting. Bugs in the system’s Mac interface didn’t increase my ardor. On the positive side, the Body-Media team responds quickly to customers’ teeth gnashing and seems to be working hard to resolve all issues.
BUY IT IF You live on your smart phone, want maximum data feedback for your buck and know it’s harder to lose an armband than a tiny piece of plastic.

First Published April 26, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!


Alexandru Petru05.20.2011

I know that a lot of people want to get thiner but I actually want the opposite. I just can't get any fat to stick to my body, but I noticed that when I work out, I actually gain weight. I don't really know why this happens. jocuri cu masinijocuri barbie

Peter Rudy05.18.2011

I've played Play2Bfit twice and found it amazing. Losing weight, increasing my energy, improving my cholesterol levels, and all while having fun competing. It's a great way to get back into the swing of an exercise program.

Sarah DeVries05.10.2011

Our office is abuzz with positivity and healthy activity since first playing the game nearly 3 years ago. We stay motivated through the competitiveness and bonus activities and the team aspect is beneficial for both our individual commitments to fitness as well as our work environment and corporate culture. Play2BFit is AWESOME!

Cytheria 05.10.2011

And unlike old-school pedometers and heart-rate monitors, the newest gadgets are incredibly sensitive and comprehensive: They use brain wave monitors, galvanic skin sensors, 3-D technology—everything, it seems, except spells and incantations—to follow your behavior patterns around the clock. And in doing so, they raise your consciousness. replica watches replica handbags

Tim Carroll05.09.2011

Play2Bfit has tremendous opportunities for me to maintain a routine that is manageable at a variety of levels. If my schedule is super tight I can still play at a level that works and that I can succeed at. When I have more time schedule wise and during any given game, I can "Up my Ante" and soar. The easy to use website and the team building that logging in online manifests is a constant encouragement. Last winter while Minnesota was under a mountain of snow I was able to devise activity that suited the environment and learn new ways of challenging myself. The progress that is visually displayed and the tips and goals sections are also highly motivational.


It's been a year since I first discovered Play2BFit and not only am I still enjoying the healthy level of activity that I started then, but I still keep in touch and receive support from my teammates too. Such encouragement makes a big difference!

judy waple05.06.2011

My husband and I are in our late 60's/early 70's and credit Play2BFit with keeping us movtiated to "move, move, move". We enjoy the team spirit and challenges and find the fact that our team is depending on us for points to be motivating. The real proof of the game's value though is how much better we feel, how much stronger we are,the improvement in diet, and the shift to better habits. Access to a plan, encouragement, advice (and prizes!) from the professional trainer and owner, Britt, are invaluable.

Our company sponsored a team of 4 to join Play2Bfit, back in the Fall 2010. You get started by choosing 3 goals. For me, I wanted to increase the # of days I exercised; I wanted the duration to be longer; and I wanted more variety in my regime! Play2Bfit and that competitive spirit and training advice you get from Britt was exceptional! 5 months since achieving my goals and they're still in place! I'm biking, swimming and running - 6 days a week for a minimum of 45 minutes and up to a couple of hours! The game created the focus I needed to change my habits and make them stick! As a company, we continue to use Play2Bfit as part of our Wellness offerings.


I love Play2Bfit. I work in a calorie demanding industry and I find this game to be the perfect complement to motivate me to keep moving -- doing something-- every day. It isn't overwhelming with 'shoulds' - just keep moving in a way that's good for you- for life. And I do! Great team game too.

jen 05.05.2011

I LOVE Play2BFit! I played it for almost a year straight. I'm already very active, but this game motivated me to try new activities and push for those extra couple of points. I really liked having data on my exercise & still keep up the good recording habits this game started.

Tammy Beasley05.05.2011

Just discovered Play2BFit a few months ago, and love it! It is a fabulous motivational tool to keep you on track with fitness, and the team game complete with weekly challenges and prizes adds to the fun. I am encouraging my nutrition clients to play as a team, since regular exercise and group accountability are two of the key components of long term weight management success.


We have been playing Play2BFit for about 4 years and really like the way it keeps you motivated. It's fun to play with (or against) family members even if they live far away. There are always helpful tips, and weekly games to keep you focused on your goals. We are always more active when we play the game. We love it!

Lana 05.04.2011

I've been playing Play2BFit for several years. I'm 64 and plan to play until I'm 90, maybe longer! The team approach is motivating and I do so much more than I would on my own. And classes at the Y count as points in the game! Win-win!

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