This wearable analyses my heart rate instead of just counting steps to give me more accurate picture of my overall health

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Health trackers are increasingly popular. As I’ve said before, they perfectly cater to a growing collective interest in personal health and busier lifestyles. They collect the data for you, put it together into meaningful infographics, and help you achieve your fitness goals by keeping you informed and honest.

The latest health tracker that I’ve tried is Mio’s SLICE, which departs from other fitness trackers out there in a notable way: The SLICE uses “PAI” to determine and score your health, which is a scientific metric based on heart rate, since your heart rate is the single most accurate reflection of your body’s response to physical activity.

The SLICE uses this new metric to determine exactly how much activity you as an individual need to live a longer, healthier life. Simply keep your PAI score above 100 over a rolling seven-day window to maintain optimal health.

So how does it work? Your PAI score is derived from your body’s responses to the most recent seven days of activity based on your heart rate intensity. It’s calculated based on age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate. So while everyone who owns the SLICE is trying to get to the same number of 100 PAI for the perfect health score, not every user is “graded” the same; since your own unique cocktail of age, gender, and heart rates is particular to you, the PAI will determine where you land on that 100 scale in a grading scale different from that of your neighbour.

The PAI algorithm is founded upon data collected from the HUNT study — one of the world’s largest health studies involving 45,000 participants over 25 years. The study was conducted at the Nobel Prize-winning Faculty of Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and developed by Professor Ulrik Wisløff, one of the world’s leading scientists in Exercise in Medicine.

The benefit to PAI, besides giving potentially a more accurate view of your body’s reaction to exercise, is that since the health score isn’t based on steps, the SLICE will include activities that aren’t based in steps, such as rowing and biking. You won’t be able to shake your arm up and down to cheat the system either unless that raises your heart rate a notable amount. For those who like to see how much they have walked around in a day, the SLICE does keep track of your steps as well. However, not all steps are created equal — the steps you took around the block to grab lunch aren’t as valuable for fitness as steps you took jumping at a fast pace with a jump rope — it’s your heart rate data that matters. This is where the Mio SLICE delivers where other fitness trackers do not.

I covered the Bellabeat fitness tracker, and in comparison, one of the features that I really liked is that the SLICE has a more traditional interface, and will notify you of your smartphone notifications.

If my phone was in my pocket when I received a text, the Mio SLICE vibrated and showed the name of the person that had texted. If I’d been waiting on their reply, I took out my phone. If I thought it could wait, I could save myself the trouble on the subway. It won’t show you the content of the messages, but it will show you the number you have yet to open. For me, this hasn’t really been an issue, since I’d prefer a smaller interface over being able to read the texts on the device itself. If notifications bother you, you can turn one or all of them off in the app.

I wore the Mio SLICE alongside my Bellabeat for a few days, and they were both equally consistent when tracking my sleep and steps. The app is simple and intuitive, and it’s resistant to water up to 100 feet, so you can wear it as you swim laps or even do some recreational scuba diving.

This is the fitness tracker you’ll want if you truly want to grade yourself with brutal honesty.

I have night classes three nights a week and sit at a desk every weekday for the majority of the day. Unless someone pops out from the office supply closet and scares me, my heart rate is decidedly mellow for most of my days. As a result, I did very poorly on the PAI scale — I might finish out the week at 50 or 60, which is not where you want to be out of 100. This can either be demoralising or motivating, depending on the person.

It is a more traditional look for a wearable, though to be honest I truly didn’t mind that — it’s slim enough to not feel completely utilitarian and clunky. But if you want something that will track your fitness (but without PAI) and pass for jewellery, then the Bellabeat is going to be the best option for you.

It will work with the iPhone 5s or later and the leading Android devices, and you’ll receive both the device and the charger in a box.

Buy the Mio Slice Heart Rate and Activity Tracker on Amazon for $A127 – $A166.

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