The rising popularity of fitness trackers from various companies such as Garmin, Fitbit as well as the Apple Watch has provided a way for people to stay active and keep tabs on their health. These devices have been very popular but the companies making these wearable devices are making continuous improvements and the current models offer a variety of additional functions such as heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking as well as a variety of exercises.
As far as their accuracy is concerned, these are not designed to give military level accuracy but these wearable devices allow people to live a more active lifestyle. In addition to fitness trackers, smartwatches have also hit the market and there is some overlap in their function which makes choosing a device harder. However, if you are looking to buy a smartwatch for staying active, here’s our list of the best smartwatches you can buy this year.
Tips for purchasing a fitness tracker
Fitness trackers allow users to monitor their heart rate, sleep, activity levels as well as daily step count among other things. As far as choosing the right one is concerned, it depends on your needs. For instance, you might want a high-end device in case you are looking for a detailed breakdown of your workout or you can go for an entry-level tracker if you’re only interested in casual step counting.
Some fitness trackers may also be used as a timepiece but not all fitness trackers come in the form of wristwatches. Some fitness trackers are available in the form of lightweight and small bands such as the Fitbit Alta HR or you can also attach one to your ankle like the one from Moov Now. These are also available in the form of dongles that can be easily attached to your clothing.
Most of the models available in the market today are different from smartwatches and do not support multiple apps but most of these models have similar functions. The line between smartwatches and fitness trackers is blurred as many smartwatches available today also focus on health tracking. For instance, the Apple Watch is not just a smartwatch but is also a powerful fitness tracker whereas Fitbit, the popular maker of fitness trackers, also makes its own smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic.
A fitness tracker is often accompanied by an app that can be activated on your smartphone as well as other smart devices. User-friendly software is essential along with a good fitness tracker in order to keep up with your activity levels. Various apps from the makers of these fitness trackers such as the Fitbit app or the Garmin Connect as well as the Health app from Apple is capable of logging various activities that allow you to keep track of your progress.
Most fitness trackers available in the market today allow you to get a detailed breakdown of relatively simple exercises including cycling and running in order to calculate the calorie burn from such activities. Most models are unable to analyses different types of activities or sports though some trackers are capable of tracking various activities including weights, swimming, boxing, elliptical, cycling, running and walking.
The advanced models also come with a built-in GPS whereas other models need to link to the smartphone in order to provide location data. Having a GPS helps in keeping track of your running activity but a GPS sensor not only adds to the price but also to the weight of a fitness tracker.
Keeping Track of Your Health and Eating
The apps accompanying fitness trackers also come with various other features that allow you to keep healthy. For instance, you can log the amount of water you drink as well as your eating habits. Most apps also allow you to keep track of the number of calories in your food though these gave a very rough estimate and may not be most accurate.
Checklist for Buying a Fitness Tracker
Watch: Some models available today come with a touchscreen or a watch face but other devices come in the form of dongles which are only capable of working with your smartphone in order to track your fitness levels.
Heart Rate Monitor: A heart rate monitor is usually not included in the budget fitness trackers but the current standard models usually include a heart rate monitor.
Accuracy: If you want perfect accuracy, you will need to use a chest mounted GPS device or heart rate monitor as wrist worn trackers are never going to give you perfect accuracy. You need to know that the best use of fitness trackers is to measure incremental improvements and to encourage activity and these are not perfect for keeping track of your daily calorie burn.
Battery: Fitness trackers shine in this aspect as these usually have excellent battery life as compared to smartwatches, and the battery can last anywhere from several days to even six months.
Waterproofing: Waterproofing isn’t exactly standard in most fitness trackers. You should look for watches made by Garmin as these watches are water resistant and are great for use in case you are a keen swimmer.
Team all of this up with some quality fitness gear and a nice pair of comfortable shoes for walking – like these from Arcopedico and you’re golden.
Price of Fitness Trackers
You should be able to buy most budget sports bands for less than GBP 50. These basic bands have all the basic functions and can monitor your movement and steps but most of these don’t come with a built-in watch. You will need to spend just a little over GBP 100 in case you want the standard fitness trackers made by Garmin or Fitbit. These mid-range models usually include detailed exercise tracking as well as heart rate monitoring.
If you are willing to spend close to GBP 150, you can buy a smartwatch that allows you to answer calls and texts. These usually also feature a variety of activity modes and fitness functions but come with a limited battery life.
If you want a value for money device, our recommendation is Fitbit Charge 2 which currently retails at only GBP 109. This model is great for activity tracking but you won’t get the full smartwatch experience.