Daily routines were thrown out the window as a result of the global pandemic; sleep schedules, diets, workout regimens, and even hygiene were all altered. Stress levels were reported to be at an all-time high.
Fitbit CEO James Park said the company has been thinking about how its fitness trackers can help with mental health and stress management for the past 18 months. Its solution: a next-generation fitness tracker that assesses users’ mental and physical readiness to face challenges each morning and provides personalized recommendations to help them plan their day more effectively.
“We realized [during the pandemic] we were capable of more than we thought and what it means to be strong took on a new meaning — maybe it isn’t about being in the best shape physically,” Park said in a press briefing. “It’s about checking in with your body and balancing activity with rest. It’s about finding time for both your mental and physical health and managing your stress. It is about giving yourself a break today.”
The Charge 5 ($179.95) has all the features you’d expect from a fitness tracker, including a thin, sleek design, a bright AMOLED screen, and built-in GPS. The new daily readiness feature, on the other hand, is a major selling point. Fitbit (FIT) claims to generate a score each morning based on the previous day’s level of activity or exertion, how well you slept in the previous few days, and heart rate variability during deep sleep, which helps measure the body’s responses to stress factors like illness and emotional stress.
After that, these benchmarks are compared to a personal baseline. When a user receives a low score, the app will recommend activities such as yoga, stretching, or a mindfulness session to help them recover. When a high score is received, it will recommend one of the hundreds of workouts available.
Fitbit’s Premium service costs $10 per month (or $80 annually) and includes advanced health insights, sleep tools, games, and guided programs. The Charge 5 includes six months of service for free.
Other Fitbit devices, such as the Sense, Versa 3, Versa 2, Luxe, and Inspire 2, will be able to get the feature as an upgrade. According to the company, there are approximately 1 million Premium subscribers.
Fitbit also brought over several tools from its Sense smartwatch line, including an EDA sensor that monitors sweat gland changes to measure the body’s response to stress, and an ECG sensor that monitors heart rhythm and potentially flags abnormalities that could help prevent blood clots, strokes, and other risks.
Fitbit is in a unique position to offer a daily readiness score because it tracks both sleep and heart rate and learns about the user over time.
When a user receives a low score, the Fitbit app will recommend that they focus on recovery. When a high score is received, it will recommend one of the hundreds of workouts available.
“Body readiness is clever because over-exercising can be a problem and lead to injuries down the road — and under-exercising leads to being out of shape,” said Ramon Llamas, research director of market research firm IDC. “This provides proof to the user what their body is ready for or what it needs, taking the guesswork out of how a user is thinking about how their body is doing. It uses the user’s own data to come up with a score instead of comparing to some vague and sometimes inaccurate set of information.”