A Fitness Tracker Device sometimes called an Activity Tracker is a device for carrying out real-time tracking of fitness-related activity. These days, fitness trackers can accomplish far more than they could when they first hit the market. At first, they were but only step-counting machines, however, today they are capable of tracking: calorie consumption, distance run or walked and in some cases quality of sleep and heartbeat.
Fitness trackers prevent you from guessing in your workouts. This way, they make you enjoy better health and get in shape through tracking your calories burned, heart rate, and the steps you take.
These days, fitness trackers are usually made as smart wristwatches that are connected wirelessly to a computer or smartphone for the tracking of fitness—related activities.
- Top 5 Benefits of Fitness Trackers
- Top Features of Fitness trackers
- 5 Activities where a Fitness Tracker Comes Handy
- How to Buy a Fitness Tracker: 8 Things you need to Consider
- Top 5 Best Fitness Trackers
Top 5 Benefits of Fitness Trackers
Restricting your movement by means of sitting behind your system all day, your office desk, study or perhaps behind your giant TV at home devouring popcorn and falling bottles of beer can lead to a number of personal and health issues. Health issues ranging from low productivity at work, school and daily life to weight gain or even chronic illnesses. Contrarily, carrying out regular activities like; walking, running jumping or even making little movements in your sit can create the reverse effect.
Being active will help a lot, but if there was a way you could track your progress it will spur and will keep you a step or two ahead of the sting of defeat. Luckily enough there are a lot of fitness trackers around, available within a range of $20 to $500.
However, while fitness trackers may seem like an unnecessary gadget for those who already have an athletic boost, it might be that “coach” you have been looking for. Besides, knowing how to maximize the use of a fitness tracker will prove to be beneficial to your fitness goals.
Here are 5 benefits of Using a Fitness Tracker:
If you have visited the gym as a beginner a couple of times, you will be very familiar with the anxiety that surrounds the gym. Those questions you often ask yourself; are they watching me? Am I doing this right? Will they laugh at me? These thoughts often demoralize us and more often than not, a good number of us withdraw from keeping fit.
Statics have shown that 50% or so of people who begin fitness programs, quit within 6 months or less. However, with fitness trackers, we can confidently make the confinements of our room our gym and obtain the best results.
Furthermore, research has shown that due to the capability of fitness trackers to track, store and reveal progress; showing growth levels in various challenges we have set, there has been a significant increase in physical activities and fitness of its wearers. Fitness trackers help you stay motivated as it shows you your progress and gradual growth.
At the mention of the topic “tracking devices,” the first thought that most ever comes to mind is weight loss! However, fitness trackers have more to offer. They come very handily to those facing some medical issues such as Heart conditions, as they issue warnings of unforeseen threats. More recent models come with safety tools that are able to keep track of the wearers’ heart rate, sleep, and even blood pressure.
Some even have a feature that sends emergency reports to loved ones or a medical team. With this, one can comfortably say that tracking devices are life savers as they prevent health threats from sneaking up on us.
3. Team Spirit and Competitions
Fitness trackers go beyond just tracking and keeping records of fitness activities, they promote team spirit and health competitions. These days, some organizations organize fitness competitions amongst its members with the purpose of building relationships and encouraging goal accomplishments.
Besides this, we all know the saying about how all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, healthy workers are the most productive. In addition, some trackers offer social interaction to others sharing similar goals and as such, wearers can easily connect with teammates to share their achieved goals and projects.
Accountability in the fitness world is very important as it fuels our passion for keeping fit and leaving healthy. It functions as some sort of motivation as it shows our fitness growth. It is a very valuable tool for those who need a little push to keep up with training routine.
Accountability encourages one to do more than was done in the past, to walk more steps than you did yesterday, to run faster than you did previously. In fact, research proves that activity level of a fitness tracker wearer increases by 30 percent. It really is a good thing.
5. Habit formation
After having your sleep patterns tracked, monitoring your overall daily activity, and how they affect your health, fitness trackers recommend easy-to-make changes to you and attainable activity goals. These changes and goals enable you to form better habits and make them your daily routine. For instance, a change designed to help you incorporate better habit may involve your activity tracker recommend replacing an afternoon coffee with a long work.
As each set goal is attained by the wearer, more goals are set and with time, you level up and add to your daily routine other healthy habits. The Pavlock is a good wearable that can aid in habit formation. It shocks you anytime you break bounds.
Top Features of Fitness trackers
Fitness trackers as you would know by now have a couple of features which makes them capable of tracking most of your day and even nighttime activities. However, beyond that, there are some key features that might interest you. Here are some of them:
5 Activities where a Fitness Tracker Comes Handy
Sleep is a really important factor which determines a lot of things that go on in the body. Your metabolism rate, safety, cravings, mood, and energy are all affected depending on the quality of sleep we have.
Fitness trackers play a very important role when sleep is involved as they have the capability of monitoring our sleep; tracking our sleep pattern, sleep durations, depth of sleep and how often we wake at night. Having such information regarding your sleep can help you improve your life performance by inspiring life-changing sleep habits.
While you think of walking as a regular activity you carry out every day and one you wouldn’t need a fitness tracker for, there is a lot of good a fitness tracker will help you achieve.
It is quite easy to force ourselves into believing we have accomplished so much if there are no actual records to disprove our psychologically nurtured claims. A fitness tracker comes handy as it provides actual facts about our daily walks, these facts spur us to take greater steps. A fitness tracker records the number of steps taken, the total time of walk and calories burnt. Although most people doubt if the results from the fitness trackers are accurate, a matter we will talk more on as we proceed.
A lot of people swim today, ladies trying to lose weight, athletes trying to build endurance, some to better health and others just to appear better on the beach, how can you get the best out of swimming?
Fitness trackers designed for swimming do not just record info such as heart rate, calories burnt, or a number of strokes taken, these are important but they do cooler good stuff. For instance, some of the fitness trackers have sensors that are very much more aware of our swimming area than we are, they kind of act as an instructor and guide at the same time. Instructing you to begin, to speed up (if you set a goal but still swimming at a previous speed) as a way of making you better, to even a tempo by displaying a blue light, slow down by displaying a yellow light and even warn you of approaching the end of the pool by displaying a red light. So you see, using a fitness tracker while swimming does not only record your in-water activity but also act as a safety device.
3. Gym-based Exercise
For gym-based exercises, whether they are cross fit style training, high-intensity training or weightlifting strength training exercise, they are fitness trackers that will help you accomplish way more than you will ordinarily do without them.
The trackers help you focus on your training rather than bugging yourself with numbers. It records your heart rate (based on experience, one fitness tracker does not cover all gym activities accurately, a good combination will. We will speak on this as we proceed), number of lifts, push-ups and lots more. With this information, you have a good knowledge of your previous limits and how well you have beaten them.
However, based on personal experiments and experience, a combination of several fitness trackers is required to obtain really accurate results of gym-based activities.
In the past, most cyclists tracked their ride data with the use of cycling computer or GPS unit which was not as convenient.
Today, with the use of special trackers for cycling (must have GPS feature), recorder data, setting goals and beating them have become easier and interesting. The information that these trackers provide them creates room for their development. Some of these trackers create room for social interactions amongst cyclists in which they can share their performances, set records for other cyclists in other places to break etc. In essence, you get to have competitions which are usually fun and also encourages you to become better.
Some fitness trackers are capable of tracking your all day calories, all day steps, all day distance and all day heart rate during exercise. They also have built-in GPS to track distance and locations for various apps, built-in heart rate optical sensors.
With all the information obtained from the tracker, a lot of adjustments and improvements can be made by the athlete as understanding about how calorie intake, sleep, and heart rate affects performance is noted.
It also comes really handy as it is able – through its built-in GPS – to track distance covered and specific location, speed and allows interaction based on goals with other athletes which is usually a form of driving force.
How to Buy a Fitness Tracker: 8 Things you need to Consider
In our world today, the use of smartwatches and activity trackers is becoming very rampant. There has also been a rapid increase in the number of brands and models available. This has made decision making as to which to use increasingly difficult. In fact, if you start going through every wearable, you might not come to pick any in weeks.
This is why we have provided really important things to look out for (depending on what you need it for) to help you make a good choice easier and faster. Enjoy!
1. Why Buy a Fitness Tracker
While there are many fitness trackers out there, it very important that the first thing you consider down your journey of picking an activity tracker is; the exact thing you need it for. Do you need it for swimming, running, cycling or do you just need to monitor your heart rate? Once you know what you need it for, you can move further down your decision path.
For instance, if it’s just about your heart rate, a chest strap heart-rate-monitor will do (even though it might be a little inconvenient) however, if you are an athlete a TomTom spark 3 might be great for you as it won’t disrupt your activities like the chest strap but aid you with its awesome functionality.
- For Swimming?
- For cycling?
- For running?
- Gym-based exercises?
- Heart rate monitor?
2. How Much Data do You Need?
There are so many fitness trackers, some with screens for display, some have the resemblance of an ordinary wristband with led indicators, and others with no display whatsoever. A fine example of an activity tracker without a display is the Moov Now (costs about $60), as can be seen in the image above. Despite the fact that the Moov does not have a display screen, it tracks your activities accurately and its records can be accessed via your smartphone.
Are you fine with checking your performance after your activity or you would prefer to get results on the go? It’s up to you.
Fitness trackers are able to track your activities by utilizing special sensors and mechanics to pick up signals from your body which they interpret to give you results. They operate on algorithms which help in calibration and production of the information they output. Some trackers do not have all the necessary sensors, (… this is why you should pick one made for your specific activity e.g. swimming – that can link up with other trackers for specifics) they produce some results based on calculations from other gained parameters and might not be very accurate.
This is why it is important to get trackers that can be linked up (via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) to other highly accurate fitness trackers made specifically for an activity. The video below from Eric – who has other helpful videos regarding the best activity trackers for different activities – will expose you greatly, enjoy it.
4. Battery life and Charging
The battery life of an activity tracker greatly depends on its sophistication. Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication said Leonardo da Vinci, unfortunately, that does not really apply in the world of fitness trackers, at least for now. An activity tracker with a color touchscreen display and a good number of sensors, battery life might stretch from 1 to 3 days and require regular charging.
Whereas, simple trackers with just a few LED lights on its face can go 6 months without charging as they use coin cell batteries often found in calculators. So, bands fall into two categories: Those that require regular charging every 1 – 3 days via a USB cord (…the sophisticated ones) and those that use a cell battery and can last up to 6 months. Now you know.
You might be wondering why cost comes this low on the list. This is so because if you start by looking at the cost, you might end up with a $20 activity tracker which might be irrelevant to you. The price of activities trackers ranges from about $20 to $500 and sometimes, a little above that.
It is a wise saying: that cost doesn’t always speak of quality, however, from the activity-band-point-of-view, it is unwise. This is so as more sophisticated activity trackers which are very accurate cost more. This does not mean that we walk into the market, asking for the most expensive tracker and then purchasing it. It might not serve your exact purpose.
If you are looking for a device to track your calories and steps, a less expensive activity tracker can get the job done. However, if you’re looking to improve upon yourself, perhaps, you need motivation and advice, a higher-end device is just what you need. It will provide you with the kind of info that will help you reach your set goals. It will be worth your money’s worth.
The nature of activities you carry out is a strong determining factor of the kind of fitness tracker you select. If you just walk around your neighborhood morning and evening, you don’t probably need a John-Rambo-kind-of-fitness-tracker. Just any tracker which tracks your heart rate burned calories, steps taken, and sleep – and comes with a GPS for the routes taken – will be OK. However, if you spend your weekends participating in triathlons, swimming in the oceans or mountain climbing, you definitely need a strong tracker.
For instance, if you swim professionally, don’t just go for a water-resistant activity tracker – even with all the necessary features, – go for a waterproof tracker instead. A water-resistant activity tracker will resist splashes of water and your bodily sweats, however, if immersed in water it will get damaged. A waterproof activity tracker can go deep underwater (…depth is usually specified in bars: where 1 bar = 10m I.e. 3 bars = 30m and in that order) for long periods. Now you know better.
You don’t want to be carrying your mobile device around when excessing or training especially when it is outdoor. For instance, I don’t think you will like carry your phone into the pool if you are a swimmer, just for call and SMS notifications and some other mobile device features (even in a waterproof bag, it still faces risks).
Furthermore, it is worthy of note that the mobile app that comes with your activity tracker is a really important factor to check. The app is important as it determines the way you view the information taken by your tracker, it is also through it you are able to set goals and challenge your friends in other places.
It will be very wise to buy an activity tracker which is capable of linking up with other activity trackers, – designed specifically for tracking specific activities (e.g. heart rate monitor) – mobile devices and other sophisticated devices.
8. Read Reviews
Just when you think you have found your fitness tracker, take a pause to read reviews dropped by the early birds. Reading consumer reviews give you a good insight of how you might feel after purchasing the tracker. These reviews can also let you know the flaws of the product you are about to buy and if you will be ok with them. They should be trusted more than the specifications on the manufacturer’s data sheet. Asking your colleagues how they like their fitness trackers is also a good way of obtaining review as they will always give you honest responses. Taking this point into consideration will save you from future regrets.
Top 5 Best Fitness Trackers
Besides the 5 Fitness trackers we haves listed below, there are several other great trackers out there with nice features. However, the list we provide is based on trackers we have tested ourselves and compared with reviews actual users of these same trackers have left. Our aim is to simplify your search and we hope that we do. So, our top 5 best fitness trackers are:
- Garmin vivosmart HR+ (Latest Price)
- Fitbit Charge 2 (Latest Price)
- Fitbit Alta HR (Latest Price)
- Moov Now (Latest Price)
- Fitbit flex 2 (Latest Price)
1. Garmin Vivosmart HR+
The Garmin vivosmart HR+ is a totally awesome high-end activity tracker with built-in GPS. It has every other feature you will expect from a fitness tracker; it counts steps, calories burned, distance traveled, and quality of sleep. Because of its inbuilt GPS, it is able to track cycling and running to precision with more details. Its battery life is good, it lasts for about 4-5 days with regular use and about 8-9 hours with the GPS on.
It is fully water resistant and has a built-in heart rate monitor which saves you the stress of linking up other devices. It looks decent, it is comfortable and comes in a few different colors. It is a really good option if you are into the serious business of running or cycling as it offers more detailed tracking, including the actual pace compared to the targeted pace. It costs about $180.
2. Fitbit Charge 2
If you actually want to stop your search for a fitness tracker, this is the tracker to get. The Fitbit charge 2 is the best mid-range fitness tracker we could come up with. It is the most popular fitness tracker out there, it is stylish, looks really nice on the wrist and can be worn for almost any occasion. In addition to looking nice and being stylish, the Fitbit charge 2 has an inbuilt heart rate monitor, a good battery life that can last up to 5 days depending on usage though. Just like the Garminvivosmart HR+, it can track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep and can even display your smartphone notifications.
However, what differentiates the Fitbit charge from the Garmin vivosmart HR+is the fact that it isn’t water resistant and doesn’t come with an inbuilt GPS. It needs to be connected to your phone if the GPS data is required. So, the Fitbit is a really good one if you don’t have a problem carrying your phone along for running or cycling. It cost about a $150.
3. Fitbit Alta HR
The Fitbit Alta HR, an upgrade of the Alta comes with a heart rate monitor and a watch-style lock system. Aside from the fact that it is not approved for swimming, doesn’t have as many sports features as other devices and has a somewhat low screen display, it is great. Just like the Fitbit charge 2, the Alta HR tracks steps, distance, sleep, and heart rate. It also has the smartphone notification feature which lets it display phone notifications such as text messages, calls and calendar reminders. It comes in two sizes, small and large which you can choose from depending on your wrist size.
While the large size of the Fitbit Alta HR costs about $149, the small size costs around $129. Aside from its downsides mentioned above, the Fitbit Alta HR is a really good device.
4. Moov Now
The Moov Now activity tracker an upgrade to the Moov tracker is a good one although it has no display screen. Irrespective of the fact that it is packed with an accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer which enables it to provide several coaching stats, it still manages somehow to feel really comfortable on the wrist. All in one app, the Moov Now tracks steps, strides while swimming (Check out the “Garmin Swim”, if you need an activity tracker specifically for swimming),number of punches while boxing (if you equip both wrists with it) and it supports 3rd party heart rate monitor to compensate for its lack. However, despite its wonderful features, audio coaching feature, and data on the Moov Now cannot be assessed without the app in your phone.
Just like the Fitbit charge 2, it needs your phone for GPS data.Generally, it doesn’t have sleep tracking as a strong feature as it assumes a wearer is asleep whenever movement seizes. The Moov Now is right for you if you don’t have a problem with getting your recorded goals from your phone and tracking your sleep. It costs about $60.
5. Fitbit Flex 2
The Fitbit flex 2 tracker is a nice product which doesn’t always have to be worn as a wristband, it has bangle and pendant holders. You can swap the tracker itself between these wearable accessories if you wouldn’t like everyone to know you have a fitness tracker on. However, the bangle and pendant are sold separately. It is a good tracker which is capable of tracking activities like walking, biking, and running. Unfortunately, it has no built-in GPS, no heart rate monitoring system, and no display.
The Fitbit flex 2 is not an activity tracker for really serious activities, it serves as a good entry-level tracker.Just like the Moov Now, it costs about $60.
With so many fitness trackers out there right now, it gets really hard to pick one that will take care of your fitness needs. However, we have tried to make things a little easier for you by providing a list of the top 5 best fitness trackers available. This list was compiled by putting the results of several trackers which we tested, together with positive reviews left by users of these products. We hope our list helps you make a fine selection, just remember the 8 things you need to consider before buying a fitness tracker as you select. We wish you all the best, good luck.