A fitness tracker could be the extra push you need to get more active by showing how effective your workouts are and your overall general health. On a basic level, fitness trackers count your steps, distance covered, calories burned, and will also monitor your heart rate during exercise. Some sense your stress levels and help you regain calm through mindful breathing exercises, while others track your periods if you menstruate. Others track your sleep to help you improve it over time.
Fitbit Luxe Fitness and Wellness Tracker (opens in new tab)
The Fitbit Luxe Fitness and Wellness Tracker is waterproof, offers up to seven days' battery lie, and dishes out 24/7 heart rate monitoring. The Fitbit Luxe keeps tabs on your everyday activity, including steps taken and distance covered, as well as your workouts. There are 20 exercise modes here, covering the most popular exercises, such as running and cycling.
- 24/7 heart rate tracking
- Stress management tools
- 20 exercise modes
- No onboard GPS
All of your fitness data is shown on a bright, color AMOLED display, and you can fire up the companion app to dig deeper into various workout and wellness metrics. In short, the Fitbit Luxe encourages you to take a good look at your overall health to see how you could enhance it, day by day. This includes your shut-eye, with the Fitbit Luxe generating a Sleep Score based on how much sleep you got the night before, plus what type of sleep (Deep, REM, etc) you enjoyed. You have the option to download a dedicated meditation app for breathwork including guided breathing sessions. These tie in with the Fitbit Luxe's Stress Management Score feature. One feature that is missing is an onboard GPS system that helps keep track of where you are when you do any outside exercise and helps get you back on track if you get a little lost.
Apple Watch Series 6 (opens in new tab)
Fitness and sleep tracker
The Apple Watch Series 6 focuses on health-tracking and does an excellent job at it. This includes features like a blood oxygen sensor for on-demand readings. This Apple Watch also sports an ECG app that records your heartbeat and rhythm, then check for atrial fibrillation (AFib). Data can be exported and shared with your doctor.
- Heart rate tracking
- Blood oxygen sensor
- ECG app
- Limited battery life
- Only compatible with iPhones
Sleep tracking is included with the Apple Watch Series 6 too, though, as with most trackers, it’s quite basic. Wear the Watch to bed and you can create a custom sleep schedule and view your sleep history. In terms of fitness tracking, the Apple Watch Series 6 utilizes an altimeter to measure the height of your runs or walks, and it carries over the excellent heart rate sensing, step counting and GPS-tracking of the Apple Watches before it. The only real issues are short battery life, which means it needs to be charged daily, and that it's only compatible with iPhones.
Garmin Vivoactive 4 (opens in new tab)
Add your playlist to this tracker
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has everything you'll need for tracking your runs and treks. It's a fantastic GPS fitness watch, with an onboard workout coach to keep you moving. It even includes a safety function that automatically sends your live location to selected contacts if it detects you have fallen while out running or hiking. Over 20 GPS and indoor sports apps (including walking, running, golf and swimming) are included, and there’s an on-wrist running coach.
- Great running tracker
- Fully hike ready
- Smart heath tracking
- Big on the wrist
Switch off GPS and it'll follow your exercise and daily activities for a solid eight days straight. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 works very well without a phone, capably hosting things like music and NFC payments, so if you want to go for a hike or run without taking your bank card, you're all set here. There are tons of health and fitness features starting with animated on-screen workouts. These enable you to follow along with cardio, yoga, and pilates workouts. You can also build your own workouts via Garmin Connect. The Vivoactive 4 monitors your blood oxygen saturation and stress levels. It’ll also track your period, hydration levels, and respiration. Our favorite feature is called Body Battery Energy Monitoring. Quite simply, this enables the fitness watch to figure out your best time for a workout and when to rest
Polar Ignite 2 (opens in new tab)
Detailed exercise stats
One of the most interesting health features of the Polar Ignite 2 is the Polar FitSpark system. This clever technology offers suggestions each day for different workouts based on your recovery, fitness level, and training history. It’s like having a personal trainer on your wrist, taking the guesswork out of how to make your fitness regime more varied and whole-body centered.
- Personalized workout guidance
- Built-in GPS
- Guided breathing exercises
- Huge watch face
The Polar Ignite 2 is water-resistant that also has strong GPS functionality, tracking your movements via a number of different positioning systems to record an accurate depiction of your rungs. It also tracks your running cadence and heart rate zones during workouts to help maximize your gains, showing all those metrics on its always-on display. While having this information handy is a plus, it also means that the watch face is really big and might be too much for some users. Other types of exercise are covered by the Polar Ignite 2 including swim-tracking, plus workout modes for up to 130 other sports. This makes it the best fitness tracker for monitoring a gargantuan range of exercise types, whether you’re into yoga or boxing.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 (opens in new tab)
Great for beginners
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 is one of the best looking fitness bands we've seen. This is part thanks to its bright, high-resolution AMOLED screen, with gorgeous curved edges. The silicon case and band are available in six colors. Because it isn't too expensive, this fitness tracker is a good one to see if tracking your health and fitness goals suits your lifestyle.
- Cool and curvy design
- Smart notifications
- Impressive battery life
- Not the most advanced fitness tech
There's plenty of functionality on board here, including some very detailed sleep tracking options and breathing exercises on board which can keep you feeling calm. The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 has a total of 30 fitness modes covering all kinds of varied exercise. Whether you're playing basketball, getting down to some Zumba, or even strapping on the skates and hitting the ice, you'll be able to activate specialized tracking, though it isn't a detailed or personalized as other fitness trackers. It will sync to smartphones, both Android and iPhones, where you can save data for comparing later or get notifications. You don't need to continually recharge the battery since this tracker holds enough juice to keep running for almost two weeks.
Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 (opens in new tab)
Fun and feature-filled
The Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 could be just the thing to help your kids be more physically active. It's a fun fitness tracker with several colors and theme options, including Marvel and Disney Princesses, to make it fun to wear. The watch encourages your little one to enjoy being active, and in a variety of cool ways too. For example, 60 minutes of daily physical activity unlocks mobile games, and they can collect points over time to unlock badges, images and icons.
- Fun challenges
- Vibrant designs
- Basic tracking only
The Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 also includes a host of functions designed to help them through their day. These include reminders to brush their teeth, through to a chore-tracking system with rewards for house jobs well done. All of these features interact with a parent-controlled app. Garmin's Toe-to-Toe challenges encourage kids to playfully compete against their buddies and family members (the app works with grown-up Garmin fitness trackers too). Great battery life (via a replaceable cell) eliminates any pesky charging issues, though it's mainly so long because the tracking functions on the Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 are basic.
How to choose the best fitness tracker for you
Choosing the best fitness tracker for you depends on what level of fitness you currently have, what types of exercise you enjoy, what level of stats you want available to you, and whether you're interested in sleep tracking and period tracking smarts too.
Most of today's fitness trackers offer contactless payment support, while a good range offer GPS, either integrated or when connected to your phone.
Also think about how you want the fitness tracker to feel on your wrist: whether a lightweight tracker that you can leave on at night for sleep tracking is your top priority, or whether you need a super-robust tracker that can withstand any rough and tumble during outdoors exercises and bootcamps.
Many fitness bands come with automatic workout tracking, too. That means the best fitness trackers will automatically recognize a number of exercise ‘types’ and start monitoring your workout without you having to press a single button. Stats will be shown on the fitness tracker’s display, as well as being stored in a companion app if you sync the fitness watch or band with your phone.
Heart rate tracking is now a staple feature on the best fitness trackers, but there’s a big difference in accuracy between something like the Apple Watch, one of the world’s best smartwatches, and a cheap fitness tracker. So if you want super accurate heart rate monitoring, it’s worth shelling out a little more.
Are fitness trackers worth it?
Virtually anyone can benefit from a fitness tracker. Even if it's just a case of having a curious look at what you've been doing in the day, having that data readily available is a great motivator.
More advanced trackers are a real plus if you're doing any kind of serious exercise because they can clearly show improvements in your health and fitness over time, helping you to set and reach goals. Some even act as a coach, suggesting the best next step for your plan.
Those with medical needs might find them useful, too - particularly if your pulse rate or blood oxygen is important, or you need to track your sleep.
But if all you want to do is track your steps, bear in mind that virtually every modern phone can do just that without the need for a separate fitness tracker. Yes, you'll need your phone in your pocket at all times, but you'll save money and keep your wrist clear.
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