With widespread promotion of physical activity and other healthy lifestyle behaviors, new breeds of wearable fitness trackers are hitting the consumer market every day. Pedometers and accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and all-inclusive smartwatch devices are among the most common, used by everyone from casual gym goers to diehard workout enthusiasts.
While I’m personally a huge fan of the Apple Watch and its many fitness tracking applications, this device is definitely on the expensive side and has capabilities far beyond what’s needed for general health monitoring. As such, I’m always on the hunt for more affordable, practical solutions that are reliable enough to benefit both enthusiasts and everyday consumers.
I recently vetted the YOO HD, one of the newest wearable devices to hit the market. The device itself is most comparable to the original FitBit wristbands. After having played around with the YOO HD and its essential components including the YOO Fitness+ mobile app, I can certainly attest to some of its strengths and shortcomings.
Here, I’ll discuss key functions and features of the YOO HD to help you decide whether or not it’s worth trying.
Estimating Calories Burned
Calorie monitoring is extremely beneficial if your fitness goals are centered on weight management, weight loss, and even weight gain. Like most wearable devices, the YOO HD estimates the number of calories burned each day. As you may already know, the body inherently burns calories to carry out essential vital functions and everyday physical activities.
The YOO HD is ideal for monitoring the number of calories you burn during a variety of activities ranging from general grooming (brushing teeth, washing face and combing hair) to housework to exercises like walking, jogging or running. However, similar to other wearables, it is heavily biased towards activities that require a lot of arm movements and/or lower-body locomotion.
This typically isn’t a problem if your exercise regimen involves walking, jogging or running, ‘real’ stair climbing, or sporting activities like tennis or basketball. But, if you’re one who regularly engages in cycling, stationary stair climbing, or certain forms of resistance training your daily calorie burns will be severely underestimated, as you won’t get any significant creds for these activities.
Gauging Intensity Levels
Intensity (low versus moderate versus high) is related to the amount of energy you exert or essentially how hard you work. While high intensity levels during exercise tend to result in the greatest improvements in body weight, cardiovascular function and overall fitness, mixing low- or moderate-intensity exercise with short bursts of high-intensity exercise is equally beneficial.
Monitoring your heart rate (the number of heart beats per minute) is one of the absolute best ways to measure how intensely you’re working out. Unfortunately, the YOO HD doesn’t have any built in heart rate monitoring capabilities.
Since the number of calories you burn is a pretty good indicator of your exercise intensity, the YOO HD provides a decent estimate. Still, without heart rate measurements, it’s just that – An estimate. To compensate for this shortcoming, you can manually gauge your heart rate by way of your carotid or radial arteries, although it may be a bit of an inconvenience during workouts.
Tracking Pace & Distance
If you regularly walk, jog or run for exercise, pace and distance are two values you should definitely track, especially if you’re also counting calories. It’s important to understand that 30 minutes of running at a speed (pace) of 6 mph (10-minute mile) will not burn the same amount of calories as brisk walking at a pace of 4 mph (15-minute mile) for the same amount of time.
While the YOO HD doesn’t directly track pace, it does track distance and it is pretty accurate at doing so. Using distance, you can indirectly measure your pace. For instance, if you walk 4 miles in an hour’s time that’s equivalent to a pace of 4 miles per hour. So instead of focusing on pace, you can simply set time and distance goals and measure your progress over time.
Counting Daily Steps
As with all wearable devices these days, the YOO HD has pedometer capabilities for step tracking. However, an accurate measurement of your stride length is critical for obtaining true step counts. After repeatedly comparing the number of steps counted by my YOO HD to those tracked by my Apple Watch, and even my iPhone’s built-in Health app, there was noticeable inflation.
This wasn’t the biggest concern for me, as I rarely pay attention to my step counts. Interestingly enough, upon further inspection, I realized my stride length wasn’t correctly set in the YOO Fitness+ application and changing it made all the difference.
Determining your stride is as simple as measuring the total length of 10 consecutive steps and doing so can really improve the overall accuracy of your step counts. This is especially important if you’re basing your fitness or weight loss progress on step counts alone, as overestimations can lead to false expectations.
But, I must also point out that your stride length will vary during different types of locomotion (walking versus jogging versus running) so you’ll likely have to take multiple measurements. This is definitely a shortcoming of the YOO HD, as taking multiple measurement is just more trouble than it’s worth.
Monitoring Active Minutes & Sleep Time
The YOO HD conveniently monitors the number of minutes you’re active as well as the number of hours you sleep. Active minutes is one of the most important, yet overlooked, measurable elements of fitness. While a daily exercise bout is great, it’s totally counterproductive if you’re seated in a car, in front of a computer or otherwise inactive for the rest of the day.
Research has proven this time and time again!
In fact, every hour you spend in an inactive state increases your risk of heart disease by nearly 20% and your risk of early death from all preventable diseases by more than 10%, even if you exercise regularly. Given these facts, the YOO HD’s ability to monitor your daily active minutes is quite beneficial.
Now, the sleep monitoring capability of the device is a feature you may or may not find useful. Insufficient sleep (less than 6 hours) is related to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which can substantially elevate your risk of heart disease. Although sleep monitoring isn’t a deciding factor for me, this feature of the YOO HD does hold health-promoting value.
After having used the YOO HD to monitor both my active minutes and sleep times for nearly a month and then comparing these measurements with those tracked on similar devices, I found that both measurements were actually quite consistent and accurate. This is definitely a plus!
Using the YOO Fitness+ Application
To reap maximum benefits from the YOO HD, I recommend taking full advantage of the YOO Fitness+ application so that you can continually monitor and track your progress over time. The app also allows you to set daily goals for steps, distance, calories, activity and sleep, which seamlessly sync up with your wearable device so that it vibrates as you achieve each goal.
In addition to setting goals, you can use the YOO Fitness+ to create a series of challenges to get more enjoyment and personal excitement out of your activities. While it’s great to have a consistent activity routine, you don’t necessarily want to have the same ole routine all the time. Whether you’re coming off the couch or just looking to switch things up, there’s a challenge for you.
The YOO Fitness+ application is compatible with most Apple iOS and Android devices running the latest software versions.
While no single wearable device is 100% accurate when it comes to measuring activity and other fitness parameters, they may all help increase your level of adherence to regular physical activity and exercise. I love the YOO brand’s general intention because it pits the NEW YOU against the OLD YOU through daily and ongoing personal challenges.
It’s all about YOU becoming a better YOU!
Despite a few drawbacks, I think the YOO HD is an excellent motivational tool for any one who wants to feel mentally and physically energized. Since the YOO HD retails for just $69.99, you don’t have to break the bank while doing so. In fact, you can actually get your very own YOO HD on Amazon.com and save nearly 50% off the retail price!
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Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.
Before starting an exercise training program you should first make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are under the age of 55 years and generally in good health, it is probably safe for you to exercise. However, if you are over 55 years of age and/or have any health problems, be sure to consult with your physician before starting an exercise training program.