The Fitbit Charge 5 is the latest Fitness Tracker from Fitbit but is much more than a step counter. In a robust and small fitness tracker form tracker, Fitbit integrated numerous health-tracking technologies. From Heart Rate to stress, HRV, and even electrocardiogram analyses, the Fitbit Charge has them all. Especially when considering that its price is under $200, we think this is the best health tracker device to consider in 2022.
- Optimize your workout routine with a Daily Readiness Score that reveals if you’re ready to...
- Get a daily Stress Management Score showing your body’s response to stress and take steps to...
- Track your heart health with high & low heart rate notifications and a compatible ECG app (The...
- With the Health Metrics dashboard, track SpO2, heart rate variability, skin temperature variation...
- See your real-time pace & distance without your phone using built-in GPS during outdoor activity,...
The Fitbit Charge 5 has been hailed as the best Fitbit health and fitness tracker to date. In many ways, however, the Fitbit Charge 5 could be the best overall health tracker available this year. It strikes a balance between functionality and affordability that no other tracker quite reaches.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is part of the latest line of Fitbit trackers, alongside the Fitbit Luxe and Fitbit Sense. What makes the Charge 5 stand out from the pack is that it takes elements from everything that Fitbit has learned about what people want in a health and fitness tracker and put it all in one place. As a result, it has many of the same design elements as the Fitbit Luxe but the features of the Fitbit Sense (without the higher price tag).
We will be examining the Fitbit Charge 5 from the perspective of its use as a health tracker. Some people might be more interested in its fitness tracking capabilities or its extra features, and we will cover them as well but not in quite as much depth.
And the Charge 5 has plenty of health features that make it more than a worthwhile purchase for anyone concerned with using digital technology to keep on top of their health goals.
One of the biggest improvements for the Charge 5 compared to the Charge 4 is the addition of an ECG sensor. An ECG sensor measures the electrical activity of your heart and can give you helpful information about your heart health. Be aware that the Charge is not a medical device and thus should not be used to change your medication. It is merely a tool to pinpoint a potential problem that will require further investigations to be conducted by medical professionals.
With the Fitbit Charge 5, you can take an ECG reading at any time by placing two fingers on the side of the watch. This will then give you a readout of your heart rhythm. For example, it will tell you that you have atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), normal sinus rhythm, or inconclusive.
On the health metrics dashboard via the ECG app, you can see your ECG readings over time and share the information with your doctor.
EDA and stress tracking
Another new feature, and one that was initially seen in the Fitbit Sense, is the EDA sensor. This is a proxy measure of your stress levels that works through a sensor that detects the amount of electrodermal activity on your skin. The more activity, the higher your stress level.
When you take an EDA reading, you will also be prompted to input a subjective feelings score so you can track the link between how you feel and your physiological stress level.
But the EDA sensor is only one part of the Charge 5 stress management features. You will receive a daily stress management score based on your overnight readings through the Fitbit app. This is calculated using three metrics:
– responsiveness, which measures the fight or flight response based on your heart rate data and EDA data
– exertion balance, which is how balanced your daily activity is (not too much and not too little)
– sleep patterns, which are a significant contributor to your stress level (more on these in the next section)
Wearing the Fitbit Charge 5 overnight will not just allow it to give you a stress management score, but it will also give you a sleep tracking score.
In the Fitbit app, you will be able to see a graph of your nightly sleep duration and quality. This includes a breakdown of your sleep stages (REM, deep, light) and is calculated using:
– breathing rate
– heart rate variability
– skin temperature tracking
– SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation)
– EOV (estimated oxygen variation)
You can use the EOV to see whether you had any breathing disturbances in the night. The Charge 5 isn’t a medical device, but if you see unusual breathing changes, you can use this data to talk to your doctor about the potential for sleep apnea.
Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Tracking
As with all health and fitness trackers, the Charge 5 will track your heart rate. Fitbit uses PurePulse technology that seems to use a similar optical sensor as the Apple Watch and most other smartwatches. This shines a light through your skin to see how much is absorbed and, therefore, how much blood is flowing through at any given time. This data can estimate your heart rate.
If your heart rate gets too high or too low, the Charge 5 will notify you with a vibration. And you can also track your average heart rate over time as a way of monitoring your fitness levels.
Your heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the way that your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is functioning. The ANS regulates a wide variety of physiological functions, such as breathing rate, blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion. And it can be negatively affected by chronic stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
When you have a high level of variation in the time between your heartbeats (a high HRV), this is an indication that you are in good health and your ANS is functioning well. A low level of variation, in contrast, can indicate that your stress levels are too high or that you need to make changes to your lifestyle.
Monitoring your HRV over time can allow you to see the difference your lifestyle changes make to your health. The Fitbit Charge 5 measures your HRV and allows you to track it over time so that you can see these changes in the Fitbit App.
Active Zone Minutes
Taking care of our heart health means getting active. The American Heart Association and the World Health Organisation both recommend that people take part in a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-intense exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of the two). Meeting these goals is the best way of taking care of your heart.
The Fitbit Charge 5 can help you meet these heart health goals by tracking them using Active Zone Minutes. You gain one minute for each minute of moderate-to-intense exercise that you take part in and 2 minutes for each minute of vigorous exercise that you take part in.
During your workout, your Fitbit device will notify you every time you enter a different heart rate zone so you can easily keep on top of where you are.
Daily Readiness Score
Your Fitbit Charge 5 will also give you a Daily Readiness Score. This is a number between 1 and 100, and it indicates whether you need to rest or whether you should have enough energy in reserve to push yourself with your activity level.
It is calculated using your activity levels, HRV, and sleep patterns. If you have a high score, your Fitbit device will suggest workouts to make the most of your extra energy, but if you have a low score, it will suggest wellness activities, like yoga, that keep you active but don’t push you so much.
Keeping an eye on your Daily Readiness Score will help you not push yourself too hard and know when to rest, and it will also help you know when you can put a lot of time and effort into maintaining your health and fitness.
VO2 Max Monitoring
The Fitbit Charge 5 can give you VO2 max estimates. Your VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can use during vigorous exercise. It is an important indicator of cardiovascular health and fitness. Generally speaking, the better your cardiovascular system functions, the higher your VO2 max. So you can use these estimates to monitor both your fitness levels and the health of your heart and cardiovascular system.
Menstrual Cycle Tracking
Unlike many other health trackers, the Fitbit Charge 5 has menstrual cycle tracking directly integrated and easy to access. Keeping track of your cycle isn’t just important for fertility tracking. It is also an indication of the health of your reproductive system.
Health and wellness in the Fitbit app
If you are a Premium Member, you can access a range of health and wellness features via the Fitbit app. These include guided meditation and mindfulness exercises to reduce your stress.
You’ll be able to see a snapshot of your day, as well as your trends over time, which show you the number of steps you’ve taken, the distance you have walked, how many flights you have climbed, the amount of sleep you had, your Active Zone Minutes, how many calories you have burned, and on how many days you have exercised. Together, all of these will give you a greater understanding of your activity levels and how they correspond to your overall health.
You’ll also be able to see your heart rate changes over time in the form of a graph, your sleep score, and tools for improving your sleep health, and there is also a section dedicated to helping you lose weight.
Often, fitness tracker apps rely on drawing in data about nutrition from other apps that you already have. But with the Fitbit app, you can log your meals directly. In addition, it will give you a pie chart of your macronutrients for the day and calculate how many calories you have left after taking into account your calories in and calories burned.
There is an exercise tracking section to see all of your workouts, the calories you burned, and your heart rate during your workout.
We have touched on some of the fitness features included with the Fitbit Charge 5 device but let’s look into some of them in more detail.
One of the best features of the Charge 5 is the onboard GPS. This is ideal for runners and hikers who don’t want to take their phone with them every time they go out because the included GPS means that every run or hike will be logged without it needing to be in contact with your phone’s GPS.
The Charge 5 also has an impressive range of workout types. Some types of exercise will be automatically identified, such as swimming and cycling. Still, you can tell the Fitbit device when you are about to participate in a specific type of exercise beforehand. This makes its tracking more specific and more accurate.
Alongside using the Charge 5 to track your workouts, you can also use the guided workouts. Fitbit estimates that there are over 200 workouts that you can use, and some of these are through partnerships with third-party brands. These workouts are only available for Fitbit Premium members.
Alongside the wealth of health and fitness features included in the Fitbit Charge 5, there is also a range of other bits and pieces that can make your life easier.
Google now owns Fitbit, and with this, you can expect a greater level of integration with Google services. To start, you can access Google Fast Pair, which helps you sync your device more efficiently with an Android smartphone.
You will also now be able to use Fitbit Pay which allows you to make contactless payments using your Fitbit Device, in the same way as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
You can see a wide range of notifications from your smartphone on the Charge 5, some of which you can interact with (e.g., accepting a call). This plethora of notifications can be overwhelming sometimes and will impact battery life. On top of that, it can be disturbing, should I say annoying? to feel your watch vibrating all day long. We only receive notification for the New York Times breaking news and nothing more in our case. This way, we stay informed but are not disturbed continuously.
Battery Life and Other Specs
Good battery life has always been a notable feature of Fitbit devices, which is no less accurate than Charge 5. The battery life will last around six days before it needs charging, although some activities such as the ECG and EDA scans and the Always On option will drain the battery faster.
Compared to the Charge 4 and the Fitbit Versa, the Charge 5 has a higher resolution screen which is easy to see and interact with even in bright sunlight.
Like many other Fitbit devices, the Charge 5 looks more like a fitness band than a watch, but this is part of the aesthetic. In addition, it has smoother lines than previous incarnations and a stainless steel casing as opposed to a resin plastic casing. Both of these design changes make it look and feel more high-end.
Why choose the Fitbit Charge 5?
There’s no doubt that the big competition for any health tracker at the moment is the Apple Watch Series 7. The Apple Watch is often seen as the gold standard in health-tracking wearables, with good reason.
When you drill down into the two devices’ features, however, there isn’t much to choose between them. The Fitbit Charge 5 offers the same health features as the Apple Watch Series 7, apart from fall detection, hearing protection, and hand-washing help.
In contrast, while the Apple Watch Series 7 does offer stress tracking, it uses heart measures alone without an EDA sensor.
Of course, the most significant difference between the two is the battery life of the devices. The Series 5 does offer faster charging but no improvement in battery life, so you can still expect to charge it every day. This pales in comparison to the Charge 5’s 6-day battery life.
And finally, the price. The Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399, going up to $499 for the cellular version. In comparison, the Fitbit Charge 5 is $179.95. Of course, if you own an Apple iPhone and value the integration between the watch and the phone, or if you appreciate the extra features of the Apple Watch, the jump in price might be reasonable. Otherwise, it is a big jump for two devices with broadly identical health tracking features.
Pros and Cons of the Fitbit Charge 5
- Has the same health features as the Apple Watch Series 7 at a much lower price tag
- Google owns Fitbit, so you can expect a range of integrated features and stability/reliability
- Great battery life
- More health features than the majority of health trackers currently on the market
- The Premium App allows access to an impressive range of extra features and the ability to see 90 days of the Health Metrics Dashboard
- The Fitbit Premium Membership is required to access many of the features
- It doesn’t measure blood pressure
- Fitbit has removed the Spotify playback functions that were present in the Charge 4
To Wrap Up
If you are looking for a health tracker in 2022, the best bet for most people will be the Fitbit Charge 5. It accumulates all of the different features that Fitbit has trialed across their other devices, all contained in one place. And it comes in at a very reasonable price (although you will need a Fitbit Premium Membership to access some health features). A health tracker can help you take control of your health, wellness, and fitness goals right there on your wrist, and the Charge 5 has everything you need to achieve those goals.