This is the complete guide on how to choose a fitness tracker.
Whether you’re looking for a simple pedometer to count steps or you need something a little more refined to swim some laps, map route when biking, or remind you to move, you just might find this post useful.
The fitness tracker market has evolved in a way we can hardly fathom.
Just when I thought Fitbit would take a two-year break from development after a successful launch of Charge 5, the Versa 4 arrives.
And while many of us have grown fond of Apple Watch series for their smartwatch features, they have premium built-ins that doubles them as incredibly high-end fitness trackers.
The question is:
How do you choose a fitness tracker when presented with a vast array of options that seem so overwhelming?
Continue reading to learn more.
What is a Fitness Tracker?
Before we look at how to choose a fitness tracker, let’s make sure you understand what it is as well as how it works.
Generally, a fitness tracker is a wearable technology designed to motivate you to keep your body in motion, so you can improve the quality of your well-being.
Some fitness trackers are so simple that they can only count steps.
Others feature advanced technologies and sensors that monitor heart rate when working out, swimming laps in the pool, distance covered during cycling, and the overall calories burned.
In terms of the overall functionality, a fitness tracker can monitor:
- Exercise routine
- Number of daily calories burned
- Steps taken
- Stairs climbed
- Distanced cycled and mapped routes
- Strokes and laps swam
- Blood oxygen level
- Active and resting heart rate
A fitness tracker relies on Bluetooth technology to communicate with a dedicated app.
By syncing data from the watch to a mobile device, you can see advanced activity data to help you get the most out of your fitness routine.
What to Look for in a Fitness Tracker
Now that you know what a fitness tracker is, it’s time to learn the right way to choose a fitness tracker without losing your mind in the shopping binge.
1. Determine the Metrics You’d Like to Track
For me, the first step to choosing a fitness tracker would be to consider the metrics I would like to track.
And it’s important that you do the same.
Let me put it this way:
It doesn’t make sense to buy a fitness tracker if you have no idea what you want to do with it.
I understand that fitness trackers monitor various type of physical and biological activities.
From counting steps taken and calories burned to checking on your ovulation cycle to measuring your heart rate, an advanced fitness tracker can do a lot for you.
However, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a fitness tracker with all the advanced features.
After all, people’s needs vary, which is why I recommend that you first determine what metrics you’d like to track before you get yourself a fitness tracker.
- Do you need an ankle pedometer to count steps?
- Are you interested in a device that can track all-day activities such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, and yoga?
- Do you need a fitness tracker with health tracking features such menstrual health detection?
- Are you more of a cyclist than a runner who would like to measure distance and pace?
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Whether you’re looking for a smartphone app, a fitness watch, or a strap-on fitness tracker, make sure your choice can monitor the activities you want.
Once you determine what metrics you’d like to track, any additional feature built into a fitness watch becomes secondary.
2. Don’t Take Chances with Quality and Durability
Many of us hang on the fence as to what design standards make a good fitness tracker. My thought is that a solid design combines aesthetics and durability in equal proportion.
So when it comes to choosing a fitness tracker, never take chances with quality and overall durability.
Remember, you’re going to put the tracker in conditions far worse than necessary in some circumstances. So the build must be good enough.
To begin with, the display should be strong enough to stand a drop or two in case the watch ever hits the floor by error. Preferably, choose a tracker made of Corning Gorilla glass.
You might decide to do vigorous workout that involves quick transition from one exercise type to another. And your tracker is going to be moving around quite a lot in different conditions in different environment.
You’ll sweat when running, wet the watch when swimming, and probably get yourself caught in the rain when cycling.
If you can find a fitness tracker that can stand up to such harsh conditions, go with it.
3. Go for Comfort, Not Just Style
As you browse through the options of activity trackers available, check the sizes and thickness of the bands without forgetting the type of material used.
The last thing you want on your wrist or ankle is a fitness device that will cause itching and make you uncomfortable.
In my opinion, there is no need to buy a fitness tracker only to wake up most of the nights with determination to take it off.
So as you get yourself an activity and fitness watch, also buy yourself some replaceable bands for testing.
If you find a band that fits and feel comfortable throughout the day, stick with it.
4. Remember Battery Life is Counts
For me, a fitness tracker’s runtime on a single charge means a lot.
If the device has a longer battery life, it’s a good. If the battery can last for less than 24 hours in standard performance mode, it’s a useless piece.
What’s the point of buying a fitness tracker whose battery will die only after 18 hours of use?
Even if you’ve spotted a fitness and activity tracker with unique features, it won’t really be as helpful if battery life sucks.
My advice is this:
Once you’ve determined what fitness metrics you’d like to track, check the quality of the battery and guarantee on the runtime per charge to determine whether the watch can sustain your fitness tracking needs.
Most WearOS watches and Apple Watches offer an average a battery life of a day or two. On the other hand, Fitbit and Garmin fitness trackers have a battery life of up to 10 days on a single charge.
Garmin fitness trackers with disposable batteries can run anywhere from a couple of months to a year before battery replacement.
The bottom line is this:
It’s best to choose a fitness tracker that doesn’t leave gaps between tracking sessions. And to me that means battery runtime on a single charge matters a lot.
5. Go Waterproof
Wearable technology has improved so much that water-resistance is a factor to consider when looking for a fitness tracker.
The idea here is that it’s best to go waterproof than to pick a device that will die on the spot when submerged.
To be abundantly clear,there is no such thing as a waterproof fitness tracker.
However, many wearable options have a water-resistance rating of up to 5 ATM, which means they can stand up to water pressure as deep as 164 feet.
Such devices are technically waterproof provided you don’t use them in steam rooms or for scuba diving.
6. You Can Go Cheap or Buy Premium
Fitness and activity trackers vary greatly in price.
I’m certain you’ve seen those that sell at high-end cost, and they just might be for prestigious purposes – or perhaps for the elite.
Then there are dirt-cheap options, but they do have unique features that make them just as good as the most expensive series.
So, think about how much you’re willing and able to spend before you buy a fitness tracker.
Examples of fitness trackers under $100 include:
- Amazfit Band 6
- Xiaomi Mi Band 6
- Fitbit Inspire 2
Some examples of expensive fitness trackers are:
- Fitbit Luxe
- Fitbit Charge 5
- Fitbit Sense
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
- Garmin Vivoactive 4
Whether you go cheap or buy premium really depends on you. My only solid advice is that you pick a fitness watch that meets your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Fitness Tracker is Most Accurate?
Fitbit Versa 3 and Apple Watch SE tend to be more accurate than the previous models that these brands have ever released.
These two fitness trackers can count steps, monitor calories, and estimate calories burned. Also, they use the built-in GPS technology to track distance and even help you to map your route.
Perhaps the most noticeable downside with Apple Watch SE is a poor battery, which runs for only about 18 hours on a single charge.
2. Why Do You Need GPS on a Fitness Tracker?
A GPS is a feature that tracks the positioning of your fitness tracker using a satellite navigation system.
In addition to tracking your location, the GPS system determines speed, distance traveled, pace, and elevation changes.
You won’t need the GPS feature to count steps and track swimming. But it might prove to be a lot more helpful when running, jogging, walking, and cycling.
3. How Long Do Fitness Trackers Last?
How long a fitness tracker lasts depends on the quality of the device, the frequency of use, maintenance, and price.
Generally, though, you should be able to use your fitness tracker for at least 24 months.
4. What is the Difference between a Fitness Tracker and a Smartwatch?
There is no big difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, but it’s still important to learn how they vary anyways.
As I mentioned earlier in this guide, a fitness tracker is a device that will monitor your all-day activities. And given that it works with a mobile app, you can synchronize data to your phone and analyze your stats.
A smartwatch does more than what a fitness tracker does.
In addition to monitoring your daily activities, smartwatches allow you to connect to your phone for smart notifications such as incoming calls, text messages, and emails.
I’ve come across varying views on the usefulness of a fitness tracker. And from where I sit, these devices are some of the best wearable techs to use to enhance workout and training to boost your overall health.
Most fitness trackers will connect to their dedicated iOS and Android apps via Bluetooth to send, monitor, and access custom activity programs.
Then there is the social side of things.
Some fitness trackers let you share fitness data with your friends, so you can motivate each other to set goals and work towards achieving them.