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Review: Garmin Vivosmart 4 activity tracker


My birthday was in January, and my husband gave me some cash for my present (I love when he does that, because I can buy whatever I want guilt free). One of the things I was considering buying was an activity watch. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on one, which meant that the Apple fitness watch was out, but I also didn't want one of the cheapest things on the market, because I assumed you kind of get what you pay for. I came across the Garmin Vivosmart 4, and I started researching it.

After reading over what the Vivosmart 4 offers and checking out the price point, I decided that was the one I was going to go with. However, in the back of my mind I had this voice that kept reminding me that just about everyone I know who has had a fitness watch doesn't actually use them. They start using it, and then it seems to be a fad that quickly dies off. I feel like most people who have them wear them a couple of weeks and then they must stick them in a drawer. I didn't want that to happen to me, but I didn't know if it would or not. 

The price of a new Vivosmart 4 through Garmin is $130. I found that there were some places selling them new online for around $100, including through Amazon. Still, the voice kept saying "what if you don't use it after two weeks?" That led me to looking at the Facebook Marketplace, which turned out to have numerous listings for activity trackers and fitness watches. I read them over and found someone locally who had gotten one as a Christmas gift, but she didn't want to use it, so she had never even opened it. I jumped on it and ended up getting a brand new one for $65. I felt good about that deal, just in case it sat in a drawer!

I have been using it for three months now and I have to say that I really like it a lot! I leave it on all of the time, with the exception of when I need to re-charge it. What this has done is motivated me to make sure that I take a walk every day. I try to live a physically active life and have for at least the last 10 years, but this helps give me the data to prove that I'm doing it. I set a steps count goal and I exceed it daily. The activity tracker shows:

  • Number of steps per day
  • Current heart rate (as well as average resting heart rate)
  • Body battery (how much energy you have)
  • The time and temperature
  • VO2 Max (your fitness level)
  • Tracks your sleep (it shows how much REM, deep sleep and light sleep you got each night)
  • and more!

You can also set an alarm and test your pulse ox. You can add activities that you do regularly, so I track such things as going for a walk, biking, yoga, and strength training. You can connect to your phone's GPS so that you can track with more accuracy when you go for a walk or bike ride. This syncs with the phone, so I can get a good snapshot of the information, or I can log into my Garmin Connect account on the computer and see even more information. 

I found out after I bought this one that there are activity trackers that go on your ankle, too. I wish I had known that ahead of time, because I may have opted for one of those (I'd have to research them before deciding, but I would have considered them). The Vivosmart uses your arm movement for counting steps, which means that when you raise your arm to brush your teeth, for example, you are adding steps. To account for that, I added an additional 500 steps onto my daily goal! Plus, if I'm walking through the grocery store and holding the small cart on my arm or pushing a basket then I'm not racking up steps. Those minor things I don't care for, but overall I do love wearing the tracker.

Garmin states that the battery lasts for seven days, but that hasn't been the case for me. I charge it about every four days for an hour while I'm sitting at my desk. I'm sure there are things that impact the battery length, such as the screen brightness, and I opt for a brighter screen, which likely accounts for the shorter battery time. The Vivosmart 4 is also waterproof, by the way. You can use it in the shower and while swimming, which is great.

I do also use a Garmin running watch for my weekly runs. I've been using that for over five years. I still want to use that for tracking all my runs, so I don't turn the run feature on my Vivosmart when I take a run. I let it track my steps, but I still wear my running watch so that those are tracked on that watch. 

If you are wanting a way to motivate yourself to get more steps in each day, increase your daily physical activity level, or get a snapshot of what you do, consider getting an activity tracker. There are numerous kinds to try, and you can shop around for ones that are new, refurbished, used, or being sold new in the Marketplace. If you do get one, don't let it sit in a drawer. Use it, even if you have to keep re-starting your use of it!

- Jacqueline

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