People with type 2 diabetes know the importance of exercise, but if you are like me, you may balk at the thought of joining a gym. However, in today’s fitness-conscious world, there are no excuses for not exercising, especially with the launch of wearable exercise devices.

Perhaps no other fitness-related technology has hit the market with such heart-pounding power as wearable devices. People can utilize these technologies as a way to monitor and improve their physical health. Chances are you have walked by, know of, or are someone wearing a marvel of miniature technology attached to your pocket, your belt, or discreetly hidden away in your pants pocket or briefcase.
 
For the purposes of this article, I reviewed the Fitbit Zip and the Misfit Shine. My goal was to see how these two devices compared in terms of features and functionality, and which one works best in getting me to exercise on a regular basis! However, as the saying goes: “your mileage may vary.”

The craze started around 2010 when Nike introduced the FuelBand. Four years later, enter the Fitbit and Misfit. Although the devices offer many of the same features, they differ in some aspects that may sway your purchase in one direction or another.

The Fitbit Zip
The Zip is the simplest and least expensive of Fitbit’s offerings. It is small enough to clip on to any shirt, can be kept in a briefcase or attached to your belt—with equally accurate results. Apps are available on the Apple iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone platforms. The display on the Zip is rather dark (not backlit) so I relied on the iPhone app as my primary source of information.

Photos: On the left is the Fitbit Zip; and below is the Misfit Shine.

Misfit Shine
The Shine is a thin and light disc-shaped wearable that is slightly larger than a quarter. It comes in a variety of colors and wearing options including, a wristband—which was my choice—necklace, etc. There is no display on the Shine, but its minimalist design was chosen for a reason, as you will see during a sync operation, discussed below. As with Fitbit, apps are available for phones and tablets on Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.I have tried both with equal success. However, there is no support for Windows Phone.

Syncing. The Zip has a (non-backlit) display that I found difficult to read except in the brightest surroundings. The Fitbit app will prompt you to ‘wake up’ the device before syncing by tapping on its screen. Both work well, but I looked forward to syncing the Shine, just to watch the lights around the edge of the disk light up in a circular motion as the sync progresses. Double- or triple-tapping on the top of the Shine can also initiate the sync for you. Both devices require Bluetooth to be enabled on your phone in order for the syncing process to succeed.

Competing With Friends. One of the great features for both devices is the ability to "compete" with your friends. One Fitbit-wearing friend of mine walked over 15,000 steps a day; whereas, I was increasing steadily from about 1,500 to 5,000 steps. My goal is to overtake her lead someday. Both companies’ apps also include a fun feature that compares your progress to other users around the world. Fitbit has its leaderboard, and Misfit’s is called misterfit. If you are a competitive person, you’ll love this feature as you can measure your results against a multitude of others and be notified when you are surpassing your fellow Misfitters.

One of the biggest differences between the Zip and the Shine is that the Shine is waterproof. One of my Misfit-wearing friends who swims as part of a daily routine tested this claim and found it to be 100% accurate.To further show your pride, you can also post your progress reports on social media and get feedback from your followers!

To learn more about the functionality and features of wearable devices, come check out our slideshow.

Food. Both the Misfit and Fitbit apps provide advanced methods for entering your food and drink intake. Fitbit’s app has an extensive database of foods from which you can log your daily nutrition, and based on my experience, I rarely had to enter anything manually.  Misfit’s app allows you to take a picture of the food or beverage and save it to your phone for reference from within the app—a useful feature for reminding you of a wonderful meal. Nutritional facts from these foods are automatically saved to your daily log, making your carb and other nutritional data a simpler task. Fitbit, on the other hand, allows you to scan a barcode to add a food or beverage easily to your intake.

Sleep Patterns. If you’re waking up tired—even though you thought you were asleep for eight hours—your Misfit app can show you how much “deep” sleep you are getting. According to the Misfit website, “Shine tracks and analyzes your body’s movements at night. Shine uses proprietary algorithms to identify what we believe to be the most restful periods and labels them as deep sleep.” The sleep feature is not available for the Zip, only on more expensive Fitbit models, making the Shine the clear winner for me.

Reports: Graphs and Displays. Finally, no device is useful unless you can access reports on your activities. There are graphs and summary reports available for both devices on both your smartphone and a computer. Both device apps present summary views of your daily activity but in different formats. The Fitbit report presents a very useful one-stop shopping view called Dashboard, whereas the Misfit app has a completely different look. For each of the categories on both apps, you can tap on any of your areas of interest to get more detailed information for that activity.

Goal setting is only provided for the more expensive Fitbit devices; however, in the case of the Shine, your goals are clear. The app tells you how much more effort you have to expend and how you’re doing compared to what you are aiming to accomplish.

Both companies continue to provide late-breaking innovative and additional features and products to enhance their offerings. In Part II of this article, I plan to discuss some of the accessories, software changes, and integrations with other fitness apps, as well more detailed information on food and nutrition management using these apps, so please be sure to stay tuned for the next post.

Are you a Misfitter or a Fitbitter? Tell Andrew on his Twitter @diabeartes, or vote below in our Disqus module.