The Fitbit Blaze Helps Cyclists Track Health

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The Fitbit Blaze is Fitbit’s newest smart fitness watch. It has an optical heart-rate sensor, so the wearer can measure heart rate at any time and track daily patterns. Cyclists can record rides through the exercise function, which can be set to upload directly to Strava. Like many fitness trackers, however, the watch doesn’t have its own GPS, so riders will need to carry a dedicated unit or phone if they plan on tracking the distance and elevation of their rides. The accompanying app lets users track many different measures of overall health, including steps taken, calories eaten and burned, water consumed throughout the day, weight and body mass percentage, and hours slept.

The watch also provides three workouts through the FitStar function. It’s simple: The move you’re doing will display on the watch’s face, and it’ll vibrate when it’s time to move to the next one. There are three bands available for the Blaze: soft plastic, leather, and stainless steel links. The face is similar to that of the Apple Watch, but larger and squarer. Wearers can choose from several colors to match their own style. The Fitbit Aria smart scale ($130, sold separately) integrates with the Fitbit app and gives data on total body weight and composition.

Who It’s For
This watch is great for cyclists who are looking to improve their overall health, not just their performance on the bike. There are a lot of metrics that can contribute to health—like total movement throughout the day, water intake, and sleep quality. The Blaze helps users measure those and more to get a better picture of their well-being.

What I Liked
The Blaze can add a higher level of fitness accountability to everyday life, which really helped our testers focus on metrics other than power, speed, and ride distance. Plus, it helps set targets for everything from calorie intake to sleep, which is helpful for goal-driven wearers to keep track of health. The watch constantly tracks your heart rate, and knows how many calories you’ve burned, even at rest. I figured out that I was overestimating the number of calories I burned in one day, and eating more calories than I thought.

As far as fun, techy features go, the Blaze has a few that are very convenient. It will vibrate when you get a text or call (though you have to respond via your phone). If you’re not into it, it’s really easy to turn the notifications off. The battery lasts for a long time between charging (about three days), and you’ll get reminders to charge it before it’s drained. The watch syncs with your phone via Bluetooth, which makes it easy to shuffle through your playlist as you spin through town, and makes it easy to upload your rides to apps like Strava.

Using the Blaze’s Fitstar workout program was fun. The exercises were simple and easy to follow, and the 10-minute abs routine was pretty tough. However, there weren’t enough workouts for it to be super useful. More options to break up the routine would be nice.

The calories in-calories out functionality can be helpful for anyone who has tried tracking calories but found themselves hungry on long-ride days. The Blaze minimizes that problem by operating on a deficit—you can choose whether you’d like to lose, maintain, or gain weight, and it factors in your activity and calories consumed to tell you how many calories you should eat for the rest of the day. Big ride days mean you can still track how much you’re taking in without blowing your calorie counts or feeling too hungry.

The Fitbit Aria scale, which connects to your app and watch via WiFi, is also a useful tool—it tracks body weight, lean mass, body-fat percentage, and BMI, and can identify up to eight different users. That information gets transmitted directly to your devices, so you can access it whenever you need to and see where you’re at with your weight goals.

The Blaze and the Aria were both very easy to set up—it took just five minutes to follow the simple instructions.