What is the best fitness tracker? If you’re wondering about investing in your health, it’s a great place to start. These days, the best fitness trackers are wearables with integrated optical heart rate sensors and GPS and apps to keep track of your health.
In addition, even the best fitness trackers are cheaper than running watches, nor do they cost as much as smartwatches. For example, the Fitbit Charge 4 is the best fitness tracker on our guide, and it costs a quarter of what an Apple Watch 6 does, yet it includes a GPS and optical heart rate sensor and features that track steps, sleep, and exercise automatically.
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Bands and Trackers
In recent years, makers of trackers and bands have realized that consumers want more information about their fitness status and improve it. However, the responses have varied in their degrees of success, it must be said. For those serious about fitness, you may be better off with a multisport watch like the Garmin Forerunner 745 or the Suunto 7, which can be used for cycling, hiking, at the gym even swimming. The fitness trackers will do just fine for everyday tracking of health and fitness.
How to Get Started Tracking Your Fitness
Start by using an app that counts steps (without a wearable) to get your fitness tracking started. It requires very little investment and could be attractive to beginners. Map My Fitness is the easiest way to start exercising if you have never done it before. Tracking anything from vacuuming to rock climbing is possible on this app.
Our recommendation is to use an app instead of a tracker if you are on a cycle. Why? If you consider a tracker with a GPS, you’ll need to decide if you are comfortable carrying your phone or if you’d rather have a tracker with built-in GPS where you do not have to carry your phone. Some apps we recommend are Runkeeper (for running), Cyclemeter (for bicycle riding), and Strava (both for running and cycling).
Another interesting helmet solution for cyclists is the Coros SafeSound Helmet, a device with a GPS tracker that allows you to track your rides and bone-conduction technology that lets you hear directions, music, and calls without blocking your ears.
Which Fitness Tracker is Right for You?
Fitness trackers can cost anywhere from $25 to $400 or more. Unfortunately, the display on some low-cost trackers isn’t always available, so you have to look at your smartphone to determine how many steps you’ve taken.
Do You Track Sleep?
Many fitness trackers record sleep. The accelerometers they use during the night are generally much more sensitive than those they use during the day. In their companion apps, most devices display graphs that describe the duration of your light, deep, and REM sleep. As part of watchOS 8, Apple will also add a feature that tracks nighttime respiration (the number of breaths you take per minute) to its wearables this fall.
The sleep tracker can also be attached to your mattress, but they haven’t offered us any noticeable advantages over wrist-based trackers. Wearable trackers are capable of a lot more than just tracking your sleep. For those who would prefer not to wear something on their wrist while they sleep, there is always the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed. Also available is the second-generation Nest Hub, which tracks sleep and respiration using a motion sensor.
Trackers designed specifically for athletes
If you’re a swimmer, you’ll need a waterproof tracker. However, not all of these trackers track swimming. For runner’s watches, it is probably best to have the time, distance, pace, and lap time. You need a runner’s watch with built-in GPS if you want good accuracy for those metrics without carrying a smartphone.
Think about the display, too. Check a tracker with an always-on display if you want to see your stats at all times or to use it as a watch. You should also pay attention to how you control the tracker. For example, wearing gloves while running in the cold might not be a good idea if your device only has touch capabilities.
Things You Must Need to Know About Fitness Trackers
Walking almost 10,000 steps daily is good than doing none, but it won’t make you an Olympic champion.
Sleep tracking may offer some interesting insights, but it is not guaranteed to improve your sleep. So instead of just literal step counters, I have chosen bands that try to do more.
There are problems with fitness trackers calculating how many calories you’ve burned, how far you have traveled, and what your heart rate is, particularly during vigorous exercise. Worse of all, most older fitness trackers didn’t even attempt to tell you how to fit you were or how you could get fitter. Instead, several brands now estimate your VO2 Max during training, mainly by measuring your heart rate and oxygen consumption.
IS FITBIT OR GARMIN BETTER?
Our recommendation for those who wish to track their fitness activities every day without spending a lot of money is to buy a Fitbit fitness tracker or smartwatch. Fitness trackers such as Fitbits track fitness data with admirable accuracy, which isn’t the case with Garmin’s wearables.
Garmin watches are better suited for training and recovery during a race, whether you’re going for a running or cycling competition. Unfortunately, Fitbit’s fitness tracker ecosystem cannot provide you with training insights/tips like the Garmin ecosystem.