My Love-Hate Relationship with the Nike+ Fuelband

As an exercise scientist, fitness enthusiast and die-hard Nike fan, I’ve been a devoted user of the Nike+ Fuelband since its original launch in 2012. The primary reason for my initial investment was by far its accelerometer capabilities. There was a time that a good accelerometer would cost you in excess of $400-500 dollars so paying the reasonable price of $150 was indeed a no-brainer.

After two years and a total of three replacements, I’ve grown to have a sort of love-hate relationship with my Fuelband. There are certain features I look for in any fitness-tracking device and this is where it has several shortcomings.

Calorie Monitoring

As you may already know, the body burns calories to carry out essential vital functions and everyday physical activities. For weight loss and long-term weight management continuous calorie tracking is an absolute must!

Pros: The Nike+ Fuelband is ideal for monitoring the number of calories you burn when performing different types of physical activity. This includes anything from general grooming (brushing teeth, washing face and combing hair), to housework, to exercises like walking, jogging or running.

Cons: The Fuelband is biased towards activities that involve multiplane arm movements and lower-body locomotion. This generally isn’t a problem if your regular exercise regimen involves walking, jogging or running, ‘real’ stair climbing, or sporting activities like tennis or basketball.

However, if you’re one who regularly engages in cycling, stationary stair climbing, or some forms of weight lifting your daily fuel levels will be severely underestimated. This is annoying, as I perform strenuous bouts of cycling and weight lifting on the days that I don’t run and I never get credit for it! That’s about 1,500-2,000 ‘fuel points’ that go undocumented on these days.

Gauging Intensity

Intensity (low versus moderate versus high) is related to the amount of energy you exert or essentially how hard you work. Higher intensity levels tend to result in greater improvements in body weight, cardiovascular function, and overall fitness.

Pros: Since the number of calories you burn is a good indication of how intensely you’re performing exercise or any given type of physical activity the Nike+ Fuelband is great for gauging the overall intensity of your workouts In addition, thanks to a new algorithm, the second edition (SE) Fuelband can better classify and detect the intensity of most multiplane movements and locomotion-specific exercises.

Cons: Monitoring your heart rate (the number of heart beats per minute) is one of the best ways to measure how intensely you’re working out. Unfortunately the Fuelband does not have built in heart rate monitor capabilities. While you can measure your heart rate by way of your carotid or radial arteries, this can become a bit of an inconvenience when you’re in the middle of a long-distance run.

Step, Pace and Distance Tracking

In terms of calories burned, steps, pace and distance are three of the most important values to track during workouts, especially if you’re a walker, jogger or runner. In relation to pace and distance, walking briskly at a speed of 4.0 mph (~15 minute mile) will burn about the same amount of calories as walking at a more leisure pace of 2.0 mph (~30 minute mile) for an hour.

Pros: The Nike+ Fuelband has pedometer capabilities. A pedometer records the number of steps you take during walking, jogging, or running. Ideally, you should take a minimum of 10,000 steps a day for weight maintenance or general health benefits. For significant weight loss, a minimum of 12,000-15,000 steps a day (or more) is an absolute must.

Cons: The Fuelband does not track pace or distance. To track these values, you might want to buy a Nike+ Sportswatch as well. Another option is to purchase the Nike+ Sportsband or an iOS device. The downside here is that you also have to purchase a Nike+ sensor, which requires purchase of Nike+ shoes designed to hold the sensor. Indeed, to ensure accumulation of the fuel I’m owed, I regularly wear two devices during my runs.

Despite some drawbacks of the Nike+ Fuelband I still can’t seem to switch it up! I continue to take full advantage of all the free web and smartphone applications that Nike offers in order to track my progress and set goals while also competing with friends. I especially love the new motivational feature that essentially tells me to get up and move whenever I’m inactive.

While a daily exercise bout is great, research shows that it’s totally counterproductive if you sit in a chair for the majority of the day. The Fuelband remains to be an excellent tool for motivating people to move more.

Leaving Your Fat BehindLearn how you can effectively achieve and maintain good health with regular exercise and other forms of physical activity. Get your copy of Leaving Your Fat Behind today!

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.