In June 2022 I started doing the Couch to 5K challenge as a complete novice who hadn’t run since school. I won’t bore you with my progress, but after finishing the program I wanted to keep track of my runs and see how far I was actually running, and after doing some research I decided to go with the Fitbit Charge 5. It is one of their latest fitness trackers measuring all aspects of health from heart rate to distance covered and measures in at 36.7mm x 22.7mm x 11.2mm and includes 2 different length bands in the box to get a perfect fit. I went with the Black / Graphite Stainless Steel colour and black infinity band. There are other colours available including Lunar White / Soft Gold Stainless Steel and Steel Blue / Platinum Stainless Steel with different bands ranging from sports bands to leather and fabric bands to match any style. I’ve had it for nearly 6 months now so here are some of my thoughts after using it.
What can it do?
For a fairly small device it comes packed with lots of features including heart rate monitoring which measures your heart rate throughout the day to let you know your resting heart rate and you can also turn on irregular rhythm notifications which will notify you if it spots a potential problem. It will automatically recognise certain activity like walking or running, but you can also record activity yourself by selecting the exercise you are going to do and tapping start. Or you can set a goal for your exercise like a set distance or to burn a specific number of calories. For example, before I go on a run I set the target distance to 5K, then along the run it will give me an update when I’m halfway through the run and when I have reached the goal of 5k. When tracking exercise it will record all different aspects like your pace, average heart rate, distance covered and the built in GPS plots your route on a map. As well as recording steps and distance, you will rack up Zone minutes which are Fat burn, Cardio and Peak based on your heart rate throughout the exercise. From this it will also work out how many calories you burn throughout the day. It’s not all about exercise though, it also logs your sleep and what type of sleep you are getting in the night like REM, deep and light sleep. Other features on the device include an ECG, EDA scan, setting timers and alarms, contactless payments, message notifications from your smartphone and it does actually tell the time as well on top of all that.
With such a massive range of capabilities you would think that for a fairly small device the battery would be useless. But think again, my one lasts at least 7 days on one charge and that is with full use tracking at least 3 runs a week. It’s pretty impressive and is exactly what Fitbit quote as the battery capacity with a quick charging time of just over 1 hour too. Also, the 1.04-inch AMOLED colour touchscreen is easy to see when on a run and gives you all the info you need.
Are there any downsides?
I haven’t had many issues at all so far but I’m well aware this has not been the case with some of Fitbit’s older devices. Hopefully now that they are owned by Google they have ironed out most of the previous issues like batteries dying. My only real issue is that the built in GPS is very unreliable. It will either just refuse to work or will work but not provide a completely accurate location so will often say you have travelled further than you actually have done. However, connecting it to your smartphone resolves this issue and has very accurate GPS.
After you’ve recorded your exercise and stats throughout the day and night you obviously need somewhere to view all that info, that’s where the Fitbit app comes in. All you have to do is connect it via Bluetooth and it automatically syncs with the Charge 5 and pulls all my info from that day onto the app. It works really well, and the dashboard summarises all the info like steps, zone minutes, calories and distance from that day as well as previous night’s sleep. You can then go into each section and delve deeper into the data like seeing your running route and which points of the run you were in cardio and what your pace was along the route. It has loads of other features as well like workout guides, mindfulness sessions, challenges where you can challenge friends or family with a Fitbit to see who can get the most steps in a day, week or weekend. You can go through guided programs where you set a goal, like getting more sleep for example, and the app will give you goals to complete to help achieve this. You can also do adventures which plots out your daily steps in a real-life location, and along the route you unlock 180 panorama viewpoints where you have walked to so far (I’ve just finished doing the Vernal Falls challenge in Yosemite National Park). There are also premium features, but I haven’t upgraded so can’t share too much about them at this point. I personally wouldn’t say it’s a vital addition to the Charge 5 as there are plenty of free features available.
If you can’t already tell, the Fitbit Charge 5 is jam packed full of features and there is loads to keep you busy. It’s the perfect accompaniment to exercise whether you are working out, going for a run or bike ride. I would highly recommend it.