Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Bellabeat Leaf Health Tracker

I recently got the opportunity to try out the Bellabeat Leaf health tracker. I'd heard of it when the product was at the crowdfunding stage, so I was eager to see how it worked. The Leaf is essentially two things: a small wood & metal electronic device that is worn on the body, then a smart phone app to keep track of the information gathered by the device, as well as a few other things.

First off, the Leaf is great looking, the wood is lovely & very different from all the very sporty fitness trackers out there. Bellabeat calls it "smart jewellery" which is a cool concept, especially for those of us who are health conscious but don't want to look like we just walked out of an MEC catalogue. I like the weight & size of the Leaf as a pin or a necklace. I wore it as a necklace a lot initially, then started using it mainly as a pin on my shirt, which was more secure while hoisting children, etc.

The Leaf 'talks' to the app on the phone via Bluetooth. I had issues syncing nearly every time I did it--it took two tries or more--despite doing everything suggested in the troubleshooting page on their website.

The Leaf app is simple to use, & fairly intuitive, I found. The app tracks your activity, menstrual cycle, sleep, & also has a meditation feature which I didn't try much. There are various guided meditation sequences you can download & listen to within the app. I added in my cycling & other activities manually, as it doesn't track other activities than walking accurately.

I found that the Leaf worked best as necklace or clipped to my top for step counting or sleep tracking. It didn't count many steps inside the house, only the longer stride, more regular steps when walking somewhere outside or more purposely walking all the way across the house. Because I felt it wasn't giving me an accurate sense of how many steps I take in a day, I switched the 'goals' in the app to hours of activity, rather than steps taken per day. This worked better for me.

Another feature I liked is the alarms--you can set the Leaf to remind you to get up & move if you've been sitting for more than a certain length of time. You can also set an alarm to wake up from a nap or take medication. The device just vibrates for a few seconds, which will wake you up or remind you discreetly.

The Leaf's sleep detection feature was interesting--I've been wanting to work on getting more sleep, & tracking it in this way is helpful for me. It records how much you move during sleep, translating that into an estimate of how much of your rest was deep sleep. If you are just lying in bed reading a book or surfing Facebook on your phone, it may record that as sleeping, but you can edit the entry if you like.

The menstrual cycle tracking is fairly basic--if you're using a fertility awareness method for birth control or getting pregnant, you might want to try something with more details like OvuView. It is handy to have it all in one place so you don't forget Aunt Flo's imminent arrival, like I tend to.

Overall, I like the Leaf & I will probably keep using it. If you're interested in one too, you can order a Leaf online here. There are two different version, one with light wood & silver coloured metal like mine ($119), the other with dark wood & rose coloured metal ($149). The Leaf comes with a necklace & battery as well as the tool you need to open it up & replace the battery eventually. There is also a strap you can buy to wear it on your wrist ($25) & I've also seen Etsy sellers making their own beaded versions too.

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