Sample provided for review.
When I’m considering which fitness tracker to wear, the most important consideration is how much data it can collect. Any tracker can tell you how many steps you’ve taken – but the ones that go above and beyond provide detailed information on all aspects of activity, including sleep patterns. So when I received an email about the new LifeTrak Zoom HRV, I was immediately intrigued by its features. Although it’s billed as the “First wearable to accurately and conveniently monitor heart rate variability”, it’s not just a heart rate monitor – it also offers detailed activity information including calories burned, steps taken, distance covered, hours of sleep and even hours of exposure to natural light. This sounded like my type of fitness tracker, so I was eager to try it out!
My last experience with this brand was testing out their LifeTrak Move C300 fitness tracker in 2013, so I was curious to see what this model would be like. And I had the perfect opportunity to try it out last month when I went on an adventure-packed trip to Florida that included activities such as kayaking past alligators and zip lining at an aerial adventure park!
Zoom HRV collects data continuously, and also has a workout mode to record detailed heart rate and activity data. You can choose specific workout types, such as running or swimming (It’s waterproof to 50 meters!), or “General”, which is the mode I put it into right before setting off on my zip line adventure. Since I find heights to be quite frightening, I thought it would be very interesting to see what my heart rate looked like!
The zip line at Orlando Tree Trek was an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones: I swung on ropes, crossed swaying bridges, walked a tightrope and made my way across trapeze-style swings before plunging 425 feet down a zip line. I was terrified to be up so high off the ground, to the point where my whole body was trembling – and if you want proof of how scared I was, just look at the heart rate readout:
The chart is just fascinating – you can see how I started out at a normal heartrate, and climbed way up as my fear level rose. It drops off and spikes back up in correlation to each new high-flying obstacle I tackled. Pretty illuminating! As I’ve tracked my heart rate during day-to-day activities, it’s very clear that I have a healthy resting heart rate that spikes up when I experience stress.
You can track your heart rate in real time with a detailed readout in the Zoom HRV’s corresponding phone app, and in a more basic capacity with a readout on the device itself. You can also just let the Zoom HRV collect data and analyze it after the fact, as I did during the zip line. Being able to track heart rate so accurately has a lot of really helpful implications – for example, being able to amp up your workout to burn more calories, as well as tracking your day-to-day stats. My gym has heart rate monitors built into some of the cycling machines, but they never seem to really work very well. I’m so impressed by the technology that’s gone into this device. Of course, this is not a medical device or intended to be a replacement for health services.
The data collected by Zoom HRV is compiled into a “VScore”, which gives an assessment of your general fitness level. You can set goals for yourself and track different aspects of your health and fitness beyond heart rate, including detailed sleep tracking. Here’s how I slept last night:
As you collect data over time, you can compare your sleep records with your activity and blue light levels to see how they correlate, and give yourself notifications through the device to get more natural light as needed. As far as collecting data goes, this has to be one of the most well-rounded and comprehensive fitness trackers that I’ve seen.
Zoom HRV is a basic black fitness tracker that blends in well with most things I wear. Here I am wearing it by the pool in Florida! It also has bands that can convert it to being worn on the arm or ankle, if desired.
The only downside to the LifeTrak Zoom HRV is that display and controls are a little counterintuitive. Rather than a full digital readout, the Zoom HRV tells you the time by illuminating LED lights on the face of the device in correspondence with the numbers on a clock. It also uses these lights to display various different goals and readouts, which will take some time for me to memorize in order to know what they’re indicating. I think this could be made simpler by just having a digital readout that could tell you heart rate and goal status more plainly rather than communicating it through symbols.
Indeed, there are so many features and options with the Zoom HRV that I’ve only just scratched the surface of what it can do. For example, I just learned today that I can set an intelligent vibrating alarm on the device to wake me up within a window of time in the morning, so that it will go off when I’m in my lightest sleep phase for an easier, less groggy awakening. This is amazing and something I’ve been trying to find a way to do for ages, and it’s something that’s only mentioned in passing on their website! The instructions provided with the device are a little sparse, given the number of features that this device has. But to be fair, I haven’t had much time to dig into it while I’ve been traveling this past month, and I also switched phones in the middle of testing it which added and extra layer of setup. I’m excited to continue collecting data and learning what the LifeTrak Zoom HRV can do – it’s definitely earned a spot as a must-use accessory in my life!