Fitness trackers here, there, and everywhere! They are often made by highly reputable brand manufacturers, and there are some fly by night names as well. The number of names, brands, and models grows daily, and it’s becoming harder to select the right ones for your individual needs. Initially, the trackers were simple with just offered step counting, and sleep tracking, today; however, they offer more sensors, waterproofing, heart rate monitors, GPS, notifications to your smartphone, and geeeesh, so can they make dinner reservations too? Perhaps not dinner, but you can get hybrids of watches, and trackers. Beware, the battery life and the partner applications that may allow you to sync with your existing phone or the web.
- Some confuse trackers with performance metrics. Most trackers report on heart rate, and movement, so if you have bursts of activity as you would in Zumba or swimming, don’t expect any specific measurements other than movement, heart rate, and calorie burn.
- Wearing a fitness tracking device gets you fit. LOL, don’t we all wish it were that easy? They can shame you into being more active, especially if you’re comparing with friends, and they can also be a constant, silent nag. So, if that works for getting you up, and moving, go for it! All that said, statistics do indicate that nearly half of us stop wearing our trackers, and forget about fitness in less than three months. It’s important to remember there is no magic pill; you must get up, and move!
- Unless your tracker has GPS, don’t expect information on distance or speed. For those, you want to consider a running watch dedicated to your sport, normally cycling or running.
- Sleep tracking is cool. The downside is that nothing can report on the quality of your rest. The tracker may be telling you to get an earlier bedtime, when you may not need to do so.
- The wrist trackers irritate your skin. Sure, a few users have reported irritation; however, today’s trackers are so lightweight, and small that most of us don’t even remember we’re wearing them.
- Smart watches are better than fitness bands. This can be true based on what you’re tracking. Just remember that the watch batteries won’t last much more than a full day, and tracker batteries have a longer life. In most cases, bands are either cell batteries, that last for about six months, or they charge via USB ports that require about weekly charging.
We’re sure you’ve noticed that many trackers are worn on the wrist; however, now there are also dongles that can attach to your clothing, and they are usually more comfortable for athletes. The extra fancy type can also be worn in pockets, on clips or as a pendant around your neck. You can also find what appears to be a normal watch when it is really a smartwatch with a screen.
If you’re into water sports, and are in search of a waterproof tracker, look for the following qualities:
- Waterproof of course, and we suggest a rating of 1ATM, which is the atmospheric pressure, and the device is good for ten or more meters.
- Distance measurement ability.
- Stroke count.
- Calorie consumption counter.
- Stroke rate sensor.
- Stopwatch feature is a bonus, but not a requirement in most cases.
- Needs to be comfy for you, either wrist, ankle or headband.
Running or Walking
Some of the best features to look for if you’re into running or walking to reach that coveted 10,000 steps per day include:
- Cardio, and heart monitor.
- Music playing ability, plus wireless headphones.
- Multi-sport modes allow tracking of outdoor, and indoor sports.
- GPS measures speed, pace, distance, time, and calories burned.
- You can also get a GPS watch that tracks you 24/7, and offers phone notifications.
- Most GPS features also allow you to explore new routes safely, so you don’t get bored.
For cyclists, most like trackers that can:
- Monitor the heart continuously.
- Track sleep.
- Track activity.
- Offer both a cycle mode, and a pedometer.
- Have UV monitor.
- Text notification abilities.
- Offer great readability in any light conditions.
- Sync up to your smartphone for alerts, and incoming calls, etc.
If your cycling is tied to a bi or triathlon, you want to add interval tracking, workouts, a stopwatch, and an alarm.
Trackers for Kids
When it comes to helping your kids stay (or get) active, and more physically fit, you probably don’t need to go too expensive. Some features you may want to look for are:
- Ability to goal set, and track activities for
- Many now have a benefit that allows you to customize goals that fit your child’s fitness needs based on whether they have been sedentary or are already physically active.
- Earning badges is motivating for kids, and some units now offer that feature.
- Clip-on are easier to lose, so you may want to look for something wearable.
- Be sure the band fits your child’s wrist comfortably, and you may want to leave a little room for growth.
- A digital display.
If you’re a bit older, and unaccustomed to technology, or if you’re buying for an aging parent or grandparent, you want to go with something that has a very simple display. Also:
- Longer battery life is easiest.
- Easy to read displays in any light.
- Water resistance.
- You may also want to test the step count for accuracy before you give it to your senior. Some tend to over or undercount, which can be very frustrating.
- Be sure a phone isn’t required if your senior doesn’t already have one.
As you can see, there are lots of features to have, and the tracker functionality is only getting better! So, we suggest making a list of your “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves,” and then making an informed decision. If the price is a factor for you, obviously the more bells, and whistles you have, the larger the price tag. One final word of caution, if you’re not especially tech-savvy, read thru the software instructions before you buy, some are easier to work with than others. No disrespect intended, just be sure you feel comfy with all the technological features if you decide to go with lots of alarms, notifications, and more. If you get them, pay for them, you will certainly want to use them!
Share your fav fitness trackers, and their pros, and cons with us below!