In a world increasingly obsessed with health, the fitness technology market is booming. Whether you’re a gym nut or just enjoy a casual run around your local park on a Saturday morning, everyone wants a fitness tracker on their arm, logging their data.
For the uninitiated, a fitness tracker is a device that looks like a watch or bracelet. It measures your steps, your heart rate, and your general levels of activity, and uses this information to calculate and track a range of other things, like how many calories you’ve burned.
Similar devices such as pedometers 三级成人视频and heart rate monitors have existed for years, but the all-in-one nature of fitness trackers makes them a compelling piece of tech for health enthusiasts. According to market research firm , in 2017, around four million fitness trackers had been sold in the UK alone – 18pc more than in 2016.
三级成人视频The good news for potential buyers is that the products are solid in general. Over the course of my testing for this article, I didn't encounter any absolute stinkers, even at the cheaper end of the market. As long as you're getting something from a reputable brand, you should be fine. (Beware, however, devices from Jawbone. It used to be a major brand but entered liquidation in 2017 and none of the accompanying apps for Jawbone products now work.)
Here's what I found when testing the best fitness trackers out there, starting with my favourite...
1. Garmin Vívosmart 4
Why we like it: A brilliant, feature-packed device, backed by the full force of Garmin’s community features
As with the majority of the fitness trackers on this list, the Garmin Vívosmart 4 is a fitness multi-tool, offering a smorgasbord of metrics about your daily activity. The idea is that you keep it on at all times; you can then check your step count, the number of floors you've climbed, your heart rate, and total active minutes at a glance. When you go to sleep, it'll also monitor your quality of sleep. You can even keep it on when you go swimming.
All that is pretty par for the course with these devices – but this particular one excels because of the quality of its all-round package.
Let's start with its looks. The design of the Vívosmart 4 is really smart. It’s more a bracelet than a watch, just over half an inch wide, and the strap is flexible but feels tough. It’s all very ergonomic and sleek; you quickly forget you're wearing it, which is important, because to get the most out of the Vivosmart, it pretty much needs to be on your wrist 24/7. And the battery life is great, lasting me well over a week of continuous usage.
I particularly liked the way the Vivosmart displayed my records alongside my goals. I found that little bit of context gave me the all-important kick of motivation to keep going. Why should I care if I’ve done 3,000 steps? But if I’ve done 3,000 out of my goal of 15,000, that’s the impetus I need to walk some more.
The other interesting thing is that your goals automatically adjust to your actual results. So, if you’re consistently struggling to hit your goals, they’ll be lowered. It encourages you to find success for yourself, rather than aiming for the arbitrary 10,000 step goal which is the default target on most devices.
There's also an exercise mode which starts automatically when you start exercising. This is a step up from most fitness trackers, which force you to activate their exercise modes manually. Unfortunately, it's not always super accurate. While I was walking around, I felt like I was constantly getting bombarded with notifications that the exercise mode had been activated, or deactivated, or activated again. All this while I was simply wandering between shops or walking down an escalator.
But that's nitpicking. The Vívosmart 4 distinguishes itself from competitors thanks to a vast range of bonus features. For example, there's a handy stress display where the device calculates how stressed you are and offers easy to follow meditation instructions to bring your blood pressure down. Plus, you can sync it to your phone to be able to check the weather or see message notifications.
Speaking of your phone, all fitness trackers have an accompanying smartphone app for you to download. These will store a record of your information (usually the device deletes the data at the start of each day), which helps if you want to look at your long-term health and fitness. I particularly liked Garmin's 'Connect' app. All the data is displayed in charming bar charts which are easy to follow, and like the wristband itself, the app is packed with features.
The fact that Garmin has named their app ‘Connect’ is fitting in more ways than one. Sure, you can connect your watch to your phone, but more importantly, you can connect to everyone else. By far the app’s best feature is the community element. Simply search for a sport or location and instantly find clubs to join from within the app. There are also a series of great challenges to partake in if you have a lot of friends using Garmin devices. Oddly, all this community stuff is tucked away in the sidebar of the app, when, in my opinion, it should be front and centre. Either way, it is by far Garmin’s most worthy feature.
三级成人视频The biggest downside to this device is the sleep tracker. According to the Vívosmart, last night I went to sleep around 5.15pm (nope, I was on the PlayStation) and didn’t wake up again until 8.15pm (dinner time.) After that, I was intermittently sleeping and waking until about 12.15am (watching television). Only then did I get to sleep where I immediately dropped into a deep sleep for just 14 minutes before bouncing back and forth between a light and REM sleep until I woke up at 7.27am (my alarm goes off at 7am for work.)
三级成人视频Another issue I had with Garmin was with the app itself. It offers a lot of information. If you can imagine it, there’s a chart for it. The opening page displays heart rate, step count, stress level, calorie count, your weight, and a curious measure called ‘body battery’ measuring how much energy you gained from sleep versus how much you’ve used to estimate when you’ll start to crash. Then you get the cumulative total for all those results over the past seven days.
If that sounds like a lot it’s merely the tip of the iceberg: the app can measure your individual exercises, look at your blood oxygen levels, encourage you to compete with friends, log your workout gear, create running or cycling courses, join work-out groups, and much, much, much more. As if that wasn’t enough you can also link it to other apps such as My Fitness Pal to log even more activities.
It's clear that Garmin has thought of everything with this device. It does everything you'd expect from a fitness tracker and more in a package that feels user-friendly and easy to understand from right out of the box.
- Read more: Best free online workouts
2. Fitbit Charge 3
Why we like it:三级成人视频 It's simple to use and with a great app
There’s a reason that ‘Fitbit’ is a byword for ‘fitness tracker’. The brand has led the industry from the off and several iterations in, the Charge line has been as good as it’s ever been.
三级成人视频With 24/7 heart rate tracking, step count, calorie calculation, and elevation monitoring, the Charge 3 has all the things you expect, plus a few nice little surprises. A seven day battery life is pretty impressive and the sleep tracking functionality is better than ever.
There’s meditation instructions, just like on the Garmin Vívosmart 4, water resistance up to 50m, and a bright easy-to-read screen. Once you connect the device to your phone, you can also take advantage of a few extra features such as weather updates, timers, and the calendar, all of which are handy albeit slightly pointless additions.
I would also go so far as to say that, as of a recent update, Fitbit may have overtaken Garmin as my favourite accompanying app. All your data is beautifully displayed and navigation is ergonomic and easy to follow. Even if you’ve never looked at a fitness tracking app before, everything is incredibly simple and self-explanatory here.
My one annoyance with the app is that it contains work-out videos. A fine addition, you might think, why would you complain about that? Well, because they’re not actually contained within the Fitbit app itself. They’re locked into the entirely separate Fitbit Coach app, most of which is a premium service. So they take up room unnecessarily in the app and do little more than advertise a paid service, after you’ve already paid for the watch.
Similarly, I find it a little frustration that nice features like contactless payments are locked into the ‘special edition’ version of the Charge 3 .
三级成人视频I also tested the and that’s also a worthy contender.
三级成人视频More a bracelet than a watch, it’s sleek, light, and easy to wear. The only differences between it and the Charge 3 is that it doesn’t allow you to reply instantly to messages through the watch and nor does it have contactless payments. The calorie counting is also probably slightly less accurate given that it can’t detect elevation so stairs are basically invisible to it.
三级成人视频Overall, the Charge 3 is the gold-standard for Fitbits, and would probably have been my favourite. As it stands though, the Garmin Vívosmart 4 offers almost all the same features, and is about £20 cheaper, which is why I've placed the two in this order. If you’re dead set on a Fitbit though (if, for example, this is the device all your friends are using) this one is a fantastic model.
- Read more: How to build a gym at home
3. Withings Multi-sport Hybrid Smartwatch
Why we like it: A beautiful fusion of analogue and smart watches, packed with features
Fusing a metal watchface and physical hands with all the best of modern tech, there’s no denying that the Withings Multi-sport Hybrid Smarwatch is one heck of a looker. It’s modern and fashionable, but with a luxurious weight to it – something that would look at home whether you're dressing up or down (although you might want to change the rubbery plastic strap for something more classy).
Looks aside, you've got all the usuals here: calories, steps, distance, sleep tracking, plus phone notifications and a handy vibrating alarm.
And there are a few nice little extras that you won’t find on the likes of Garmin or Fitbit. As someone who writes about sleep health a lot, I was pleased to find a Smart Wake Up function. In short, you tell the watch roughly when you want to be up – between 6.30 and 7am, for example – and the watch monitors your sleep and wakes you up at the ideal moment in your sleep cycle. It helped me to feel more refreshed than usual when I woke up.
There’s also a sporty 25-hour battery life, a simple, easy-to-follow one button interface, and a physical hand which tells you what percentage of your step goal you’ve made it to.
And while, to my mind, Fitbit and Garmin represent the gold standard of fitness tracking app design, I have to admit Withings’ own app, Health Mate, is a handsome bit of software, displaying all my results in a simple, concise format. I really like how you can hide metrics you’re not interested in. Don’t care to log your food? Hide it. Just bought a new scale that can tell you your fat mass? Put it on the screen.
With all this data, the app does risk becoming quite confusing. The trouble is that Health Mate works with devices across the Withings portfolio, including scales, blood pressure monitors, and in-bed sleep monitors. This means that the app includes metrics and sections which aren’t accessible if you’ve just got the watch, which can easily get confusing.
Still, on balance, this is a top notch product, which looks and feels great and works well.
For those looking for something a bit more specialised, I also tested the brand new Withings Move ECG () which both gives and takes away from the pricier smartwatch.
三级成人视频This one looks more like a proper watch, with no electronic screen at all, which means updates from your phone are not possible, nor can you see an accurate step count on the fly.
三级成人视频However, it does still do a lot of the things the Multi-sport Hybrid does, tracking everything from steps to sleep. In fact, this one can even track when you climb stairs, making the calorie counting slightly more accurate.
三级成人视频It has an incredible 12 month battery and is water resistant up to 50m. Not bad at all. But it gets its name from the best feature, an electro-cardigram built into the watch. Just tap the button, and hold the watch face then count to thirty and it’ll measure your heart rhythm. If you do this often enough, you should be able to spot any changes. This is important because changes to heart rhythm can be a sign of heart disease, so they’re worth keeping an eye on.
三级成人视频Actually, given the lower price and the new functions, the Move ECG might be the better of the two models, though I would miss having the notifications if I was to purchase one. Different strokes for different folks, I think.
4. Honor Band 5
Why we like it: One of the most ludicrous tech bargains of our age
三级成人视频There’s a lot to love about the Honor 5 Band. The sleek, bracelet design of this one reminded me very much of the Garmin Vívosmart 4 and it’s got a great, responsive touch screen with a nice big friendly button as an interface.
The functionality is also very strong. You’ve got all the usual stuff like step counting and calories burnt being estimated, as well as some other interesting stuff like 24/7 heart-rate monitoring (most devices measure heart-rate at intervals to save battery), swim stroke recognition, support to track 10 exercises, and an incredibly good sleep monitoring function.
In fact, I’ll pause a moment just to wax lyrical about how good the sleep monitoring of this device is. Looking at your heart rate and breathing, the device provides probably the most accurate sleep tracking of any device on this list. I am, it tells me, a very good sleeper, but I’m told by Honor’s PR that the device can accurately identify six common sleeping problems such as sleep apnea. If you’re struggling to sleep, this might be just the thing for you.
三级成人视频There’s also some handy smart features too. While a lot of these devices will show text alerts, the Honor Band 5 allows you a bit of extra smartphone control. You can use it as a selfie remote for example or you can use it to get your phone to ring if you’ve lost it.
Suffice to say, all this goes above and beyond what an average fitness tracker is capable of, and given the discount price, I was left wondering exactly what the downside would be.
Turns out there are a couple. First of all is the state of the apps involved. As well as the Huawei Health app, which you’d expect, users must also download Huawei Mobile Services. And that one asks for a lot of data if it’s to do anything at all.
Arguably the more pressing issue though is that the step counting can be a little off. Mine sometimes seemed to randomly count steps several times when I was sitting at my desk. Alright, so it would only add an extra couple of steps, but it’s disappointing given the quality of the rest of the package.
Finally, the setup process was a struggle, with the band struggling to connect to my phone for a long time.
Still, if you can stand those minor quibbles the Honor Band 5 is a really top notch piece of equipment, significantly cheaper than some of my top picks but still very much able to keep up with them. I’m seriously impressed.
5. Moov Now
Why we like it:三级成人视频 Perfect for exercise fans who want something more in-depth than a step counter
The Moov Now is a weird little budget device that offers a different package from every other fitness tracker on this list.
三级成人视频It would perhaps be more accurate to call the Moov Now an exercise tracker than an activity tracker. Unlike its competitors, the Moov Now focuses on recording your exercise data, rather than your general activity, so you'll find no pedometer on this one. It's designed to be a personal trainer on your wrist.
The other unique thing about the Moov Now is that it lacks a screen, meaning you can't check your data on the go. The device leans very heavily on its accompanying smartphone app and is entirely useless without it. Thankfully, the app does contain a wealth of features which should appeal to everyone from hardcore exercise fans to new starters.
三级成人视频Go into the app and you’ll find an extensive list of workout types from running to circuit training to cardio boxing. Click into one of these and you get a list of guided workouts from Moov. There are plenty of different options for all different levels. You’ll get different goals and a bit of information for each one. Some require you to keep your smartphone on you, others don’t, but all the information is available on the opening screen.
三级成人视频The idea is that the app guides you through the workout with instructions barked through your headphones. The band records your heart rate, elevation, exercise time, and calculates how many calories you burn – all the standard stuff.
三级成人视频However, Moov Now is also capable of tracking a lot of impressive information. When I went for a run, it told me that my impact was too heavy so I needed to tread more softly. If you're doing cardio boxing it can work out your hit strength; likewise your stroke speed when swimming. All of this data can be used to correct your form and make sure you get the most from your exercise.
And the best thing about it all is that the app starts you off slowly. I am not a huge gym-goer, but even I could manage a 15 minute run with Moov. Once I completed that, I challenged myself to attempt level two, then three, eight, and fifteen. Having the level system means you get the feeling of accomplishment, and a challenge to move onto the next level.
One gripe is that some exercises require you to have a heart rate monitor, as the device itself doesn’t act as one. You can buy one from Moov, but it’s also possible to connect other fitness devices. I was prompted to add the Matrix PowerWatch, for example, but not my Fitbit or Garmin devices.
三级成人视频Overall, I wouldn’t say Moov is right for everyone, but is ideal for keen exercisers who want a very detailed breakdown of their workout. I’d perhaps suggest using Moov in tandem with a fitness tracker that’s more comprehensive in its results.
6. Fitbit Versa 2
The original Fitbit Versa was the fitness tracking giant’s attempt to take on the smart watch market, incorporating the best fitness tracking technology with other useful features such as apps to check the weather, control your music, and even send basic responses to text messages on your phone. But in straddling the divide between fitness tracking and smart watchery, it ultimately couldn’t keep up with either.
So now we come to the Versa 2 and, on the face of it, not a lot has changed. The flat touchscreen, about an inch across, is incrementally bigger this time around, and it’s technically better too, making a jump in quality and getting a new glass face which is less likely to scratch. Once again you get a comfortable rubberised strap (or a fancy woven fabric one if you’re prepared to fork out an ). All told, it looks pretty similar.
On the device itself things are better though. That slow processor has been improved upon so there’s no lag when you’re flicking through the watch’s screens, making it easy to jump between apps. In addition, a new bigger and better battery is featured, meaning I was easily able to get about six days out of it before it needed charging.
The big flagship feature this time around is a little microphone which allows you to use Amazon’s Alexa voice-assistant on the fly. It’s kind of cool, I suppose, but it’s also slightly gimmicky. What’s more impressive is that the microphone allows you to send voice replies through messaging services like WhatsApp, although that’s only available for Android users for some reason.
三级成人视频In terms of the actual fitness tracking, it’s got all the good stuff: 24/7 heart rate monitoring, a new and improved sleep tracker (much less liable to tell me I was sleeping when I was just watching TV, I found), tracking for 15 exercises, step counting, calories burnt, and swimproof up to 50m.
The only significant downside is that the Versa 2 lacks GPS tracking, meaning that while it can track the exercise you do on your runs, it can’t actually track the runs themselves. It’s a baffling exclusion and I really can’t wrap my head around the logic of it.
三级成人视频Either way, the improvements are very much appreciated and certainly make it a lot easier to recommend the Versa 2 over the original device.
7. Myzone MZ-3
三级成人视频Designed to be used competitively, I have no problems recommending the Myzone MZ-3 to anyone running a work-out class who might be reading this. For the average user though, it’s a harder sell.
三级成人视频The MZ-3 is an electro-cardiogram which straps around your chest with a comfortable, washable elasticated band. It monitors your heart rate, rhythm, and then uses that information, along with height and weight that you enter in the app, to work out how many calories you’ve burnt.
But the main metric you’ll be focusing on is ‘effort’. This is basically a calculation of how hard your body is working, based on your current fitness level. This means that Mo Farah could race against me, and while he’d easily beat me if we were being judged on time or distance, I stand a chance of beating him in terms of effort.
The feeling that anyone could win, no matter their fitness level, is an ideal incentive for competition. Like I said, if you run a work-out class, this should be on your radar.
But while the accompanying app contains an online leaderboard where you can compete with friends, there’s not quite so much incentive to keep going, unless you’re very keen to beat your own scores.
8. Polar Ignite Fitness Watch
I’m in two minds about the Polar Ignite. On one hand, it’s a nice-looking, slick piece of tech which does the job you need it to. On the other hand, it’s quite expensive and comes with a few downsides.
三级成人视频Let’s start with the positives. This one looks absolutely great, with a lovely stainless steel rim and colourful LED touchscreen. All of the controls are handled by either touch or a discrete little button on the side of the watch.
And there’s some neat features too such as ‘Serene’, a customisable meditation aid, training reminders, and ‘Nightly Recharge’; a calculation which works out how much energy your body has restored while you’ve been asleep. Those are in addition to all the usual business like step counting and various training modes.
The trouble is that the whole package is rather… basic. None of it is bad, per se, it’s just not that interesting. ‘Nightly Recharge’ is the closest the Polar Ignite comes to a truly original idea, and even then it’s not foregrounded as much as it could be.
三级成人视频The Polar Ignite is a nice gadget which I enjoyed using. But given that you can buy almost two Garmins or Fitbits for the same price and those come with apps which feel a lot more polished, it’s hard to justify this one.
9. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
三级成人视频Shortly after slapping the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music on my wrist, I realised that the name isn’t just a generic noun chucked in there to sound cool. It’s a pun. As in ‘for runner(s)’.
三级成人视频And trust me, unless you’re a really, really passionate runner, there is scant reason to spend this much on a fitness tracker.
It's hardly graceful,
An ugly design is the first sign that this is designed to be paired with Spandex rather than a tuxedo, with a horrible brightly coloured strap and five large buttons protruding out of the watchface.
三级成人视频Still, for what it lacks in grace, it certainly makes up for in skill. This watch is a runner’s best friend, able to measure crucial metrics including cadence, stride length, ground contact time, and balance. All of this data is fed into a performance analytics score which can tell you, on the fly, objectively how well you’re running, ranking you either red, orange or green, depending on your level of success.
One thing I found particularly handy about it was that the watch uses some sort of algorithm to evaluate all the training you’ve done and tell you whether or not you need another session that week, or whether you’ve been over-exercising and should have a break.
The other great thing about the Forerunner is that it is an MP3. You can store music on the watch itself, connect your Bluetooth headphones, and leave your phone at home while you go out for a run. In fact, you can even connect to your Spotify account and download whole playlists from there.
Still, even with all these handy features and, of course, access to the great Garmin app, I still probably wouldn’t recommend spending all that money for this device unless you’re an established runner. If you are, then it’s definitely worth buying, and packed with useful and handy features.
10. August Smart Health Wristband
The August Smart Health Wristband is a fairly middling, budget device. My main quibble is the interface: the whole thing is controlled via a ‘button’ which is, in fact, just a part of the screen. You tap the button to flick between different metric displays. Skip past the one you wanted and you’ve got to cycle through all of them again. Sigh.
Still, in terms of tracking your movement, it does a serviceable job, putting all the information into reasonably pleasant bar charts so you can see where you’ve got to and how that compares to the average.
三级成人视频Unfortunately, the rest of the app is poor. You can only enter your height and weight in centimetres and kilograms, respectively, even after choosing to display measurements in other metrics. After entering my birthday, the app told me I was a year older than I am. Given that, I'm not sure I'd trust it to track my vital statistics.
三级成人视频Personally, at this price, I'd pick the Moov.
Frequently asked questions about fitness trackers
How to buy a fitness tracker
Choosing the right fitness tracker for you will really depend on how committed to exercise you are. Those who work out a lot will probably want a device which breaks down detailed metrics of their entire exercise.
On the other hand, those who are more casual or are looking for a bit of motivation to get themselves healthier might prefer something which just tracks their steps and general activity level.
三级成人视频You may also plan to use it as a timepiece. Most fitness trackers are like wristwatches, but not all are. Some come in the form of small, lightweight bands like the Fitbit Alta HR, or can be attached to your ankle like the Moov Now. Others are simple dongles that can be clipped onto items of clothing.
In recent years there’s been a drive towards turning fitness trackers into budget smartwatches, but there are key differences. Most are not made to support multiple apps and are more reliant on an accompanying smartphone app for any extra features. On the flipside, many smartwatches also gear themselves towards health tracking.
How much should I pay for a fitness tracker?
Budget fitness trackers come in at under £50, offering the basic functions you need to monitor steps and movement. Standard trackers will set you back just over double that; they add heart-rate monitors and more detailed exercise tracking to the package.
Then, at the higher end of the market (around the £150 mark) things get a bit more complicated, because here you start to encounter smartwatches, which will track your fitness and do a lot of other stuff (the Samsung Watch, for example, acts as a proxy smartphone). Honestly, if you're committed to staying in shape and are prepared to pay £150 for a fitness tracker, I'd say steer clear of smartwatches, as a lot of those added functions are gimmicky. Spend the money on a product that's designed to track fitness and nothing more.
Don't forget the apps
A fitness tracker will require an app for your smartphone or tablet. The app usually syncs with the tracker every day to chart the user’s fitness journey over time. The apps such as the Fitbit, Garmin Connect, can be log activity targets and keep a tab on your progress. Most can also sync with apps such as Google Fitness and Apple Health which can be used to track other metrics such as diet habits or look at your performance across multiple devices.
What activities can fitness trackers measure?
Most fitness trackers break down relatively simple exercises, such as running or cycling, and calculate your calorie burn from this. Cheaper devices cannot adapt to analysing different lots of types of sport or activity, although newer trackers can include the ability to track a wide variety of different exercises from weights to swimming. Usually these extra activities have to be added to the device through the app.
More advanced fitness tracking devices come with a GPS built-in, others instead link up to your smartphone to provide a breakdown of location data. This can help monitor running, but adding a GPS can add to the price and weight of a fitness tracker.
How accurate are fitness trackers?
There are almost constant news stories questioning the accuracy of fitness trackers, telling us how incorrect they are, so I decided to try it out for myself. I tested the accuracy of each of the fitness trackers rated here by walking 1,500 with each, measuring the results every 500 steps. I counted my own steps and compared my figure to the number on the watch. While there was some variation in their overall accuracy, most were reasonably accurate. On average they tend to overcount slightly, counting 3% more steps than you would actually take, meaning if you walked 10,000 steps they’d count 10,300. Either way, it’s pretty accurate for a wrist mounted device.
三级成人视频The full breakdown of my testing can be found below:
Health and eating
三级成人视频Some apps also have other features that contribute to keeping healthy, such as asking you to record how much water you drink or how you are eating. This can help with accurately mapping calorie intake over the course of the day, perfect for those who are dieting and looking for a convenient way to monitor their progress.
Fitness tracker checklist
三级成人视频For those buying a fitness tracker, there are a huge amount of different options available. To help figure out which one is right for you, here are a few things to think about.
Watch or no watch? While most fitness trackers have a watch face by default, others are dongles or bracelets built to work only for fitness tracking.
三级成人视频Heart rate monitor: this is becoming standard in current models but if you’re buying an older or cheaper device, it may not be included.
三级成人视频Battery life: Most fitness trackers have an excellent battery life. Depending on device and use, these can last anywhere between a few days and a few months. Devices will have a shorter battery life.
三级成人视频Waterproofing: Many fitness trackers don't come with built-in waterproofing. If you are a keen swimmer you will definitely want a device which is waterproof.