All of us plan to improve our health and lifestyle. We adapt to specific eating habits, change our sleep routine, workout schedules, and so much more. Some of us prefer indoor exercise activities like yoga, treadmills, while some of us prefer an outdoor environment with adventure hiking, mountain biking as the choice of sport.
To enhance your workout schedule, you can choose from a wide range of most accurate and best fitness trackers, whether you are a casual fitness person or into a hardcore exercise. So this fitness tracker buying guide is for you to choose the best fitness tracker in the market.
Currently, in the market, some devices shall help you in monitoring your health, cardio activity, workout schedules, performance optimization, and so much more.
If you are not up to date or don’t have enough knowledge, first decide what you are looking for in a fitness tracker.
Fitness Tracker Buying Guide
You should always choose a fitness tracker or smartwatch based on your needs and requirements. In this fitness tracker buying guide, I will explain to you how to choose the best fitness tracker based on your real needs.
Why Do you Need a Fitness Tracker?
Before jumping onto Amazon, think of all the activities you would want your wearable device to track. Having a clear list might narrow down the choices based on your requirements.
Most older versions just monitor steps and total distance covered, whereas more advanced and newer models have multiple sensors and functionalities like GPS and heart rate monitor.
Some advanced devices even have sleep trackers and also an outdoor route tracker to help you with navigation during cycling, running or mountain biking.
If your daily exercise routine is running and walking, any basic model shall work for you to help with data tracking.
If you are more of an outdoors person and prefer workouts like hiking, track cycling, biking, or any other activity involving rough terrain, you might want a more premium device having inputs of weather, GPS, terrain mapping. You could even get other complementary sensors to make your workout much more efficient.
With so many devices and critical players in the market, it is normal for people to get confused. So, we have prepared a list of parameters focusing on what to look for in a fitness tracker.
- Display Screen: The advanced trackers display their data using digits, symbols, and words with a face-like display. Whereas, the lower-end devices display data via a simple LED light display or a mobile app.
Make sure that the data interpreted by your tracker is sent to your smartphone or computer. The tracker’s supported mobile app should help in backing up the information as well as help in interpreting and analyzing so that it’s easy for you to understand.
Before deciding on a particular device, makes sure that the supported mobile app is available on the App Store/Play Store and is functional on your smartphone model.
Related Post: Best Fitness Tracker without Smartphone
- Accuracy of Data: Fitness trackers are neither indestructible nor invincible. They use sensors and algorithms to measure footsteps, punches, stairs climbed, and hours slept. This indicates a certain degree of imprecision due to technical malfunction and limitations.
If you need pro-level data, you must consider function-specific devices. Universally, heart rate monitors that are strapped to your chest to transmit info are more precise than the pre-built sensors applied to your wrist.
- Battery Life in different modes: Functionalities and sophistication are the two significant parameters affecting your device’s battery life from up to one day to even several months. A device having a high-resolution display with complex and multiple functionalities with different sensors would have to be charged more frequently than one in with a few LED lights on its screen. There are also a lot of devices that are not chargeable but use small coin-shaped cells that are replaceable.
- Compatibility with Mobile App: Before starting to narrow down your preferences, do remember that while you may find a device perfect for your needs as per functionalities, maybe the supported mobile app is running on a different OS. And most of them are not compatible with Windows, so keep that in mind.
- Device Protection: If you plan to wear your fitness tracker throughout the day even during the shower or maybe if you are a veteran swimmer, you should consider a device that can handle more than just a splash of water.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is only splashproof, which is limited to light rain or a few drops, whereas the Fitbit Flex 2 and the Misfit Speedo have excellent water-resistant certified up to 100M and more. That’s also an advantage in situations where your tracker takes an unexpected fall into the water, or if you are a swimming enthusiast wanting to track your body metrics.
- Features: Almost all fitness tracker fall under two categories concerning tracking: total steps taken and comparative data for calories shed. Most of these devices collect data on complete actions taken and total calories burnt.
However, if you are more interested and into an advanced workout regimen like calculating the distance traveled along with slope and terrain tracking, opt for a device having an altimeter with a gyroscope and an accelerometer as main functionalities.
Fitness bands like Garmin Forerunner 235, Fitbit Charge 2, and Apple Watch Series have an in-built optical heart-rate monitor equipped with colored LEDs on the rear-end of the tracker to allow light rays through the skin into the blood vessels for tracking data.
Before optical sensor technology was a thing, you’d have to wear a bulky and heavy heart-rate monitor. The device would be strapped onto your chest and connected to devices having good activity tracker reviews to get heart data using electrical impulses. This is still a more viable and accurate option. But due to its physical limitations, it cannot be worn anywhere, anytime wand that’s a significant disadvantage.
- Cost & Budget: Fitness trackers vary according to charges. The latest generation offers a vast range of specific features to choose from at very affordable prices. Also, with multiple players in the market, releasing 3rd and 4th generation devices, the earlier generations are automatically becoming cheaper.
While the above wearable fitness tracker reviews are good, they may not track everything, with some shopping around you may be able to find one that fits your needs. On the lower end (fitness tracker under 100$), you’ll find models such as Fitbit Zip, Misfit Flash, and Pivotal Living, which have almost the same features.
If, however, you are looking for a more sophisticated device, you will need to spend a bit more, for example, the Fitbit Charge 3 or one of the Garmin fitness band series.
At the higher end, you’ll find devices that close the line between fitness trackers and smartwatches like the Apple Watch, Withings Steel HR Sport, Fitbit Ionic/Versa, and Vivoactive 3.
- Music Player: If you want to listen to your favorite music while running to focus on your weight loss, look for a smartwatch that has in-built storage to save your tunes. You’ll be needing a Bluetooth headset as well. Music management is a feature that’s not commonly found on activity trackers.
- Style & Design: Trackers are nowadays available in different shapes. You could wear it on the wrist like a watch, a pendant as a piece of jewelry, an ankle fitness tracker, or even attached to your clothing. In the past, devices tended to look purely functional, giving it a bland and mechanical look. Manufacturers are now shifting their focus on a sense of style.
Exploring with a greater variety of materials, shapes, and colors, and some models created in collaboration with bona fide fashion designers, companies are trying to make devices that blend into your everyday lifestyle. So, when looking for the best smartwatch, choose a look you’ll feel comfortable wearing every day.
So, now that you have a sense of how to choose a perfect fitness tracker for yourself to jot down your goals and what specific data is needed to achieve those.
You might set a goal to run 10,000 steps in 24 hours, burn a certain number of calories or try to swim for 500m in a day. Then, have a look at the best fitness trackers depending upon your focus and perception of healthcare.
“Fitness trackers help people remain focused and energetic by presenting data in a way that users get more exercise and start living a healthier lifestyle,” by Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner. People who have interests in sports activities that are less popular, such as mountain biking, may want to check that the activity is supported and recognized by the software/mobile app.”
Those who are proactive may want a more sophisticated and complex device with advanced features, like breath analyzing, heart-rate monitoring, multiple sensors like gyroscope and barometer along with automatic activity recognition, to help better gauge your workout intensity, overall health and to help your progress/growth with accurate and relevant data.
I think this fitness tracker buying guide was helpful for you in choosing one of the best fitness trackers depending on your real needs. If you have any further thoughts on this please feel free to comment below or contact us.