Best Fitness Trackers For Your New Health Kick
Looking to get back in shape but need a little help? There are few better exercise aides than a fitness tracker. Traditionally a small-ish band that you slap around your wrist to count steps, calories burned and other simple sweat-induced stats, the notion of a fitness tracker has very much expanded since the advent of smartwatches. Because the last thing you need is another gadget to loyally tow around town for a month at max. Just like your other new year’s resolutions.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the best fitness trackers that you’ll want to wear the year round. Some of them adhere to tradition, others are more watch-like in form. The important thing here is that you get a device that suits the kind of exercise you’re into. So before we get to the trackers themselves, here are the essentials you need to know about when buying one...
Fitness trackers cost less than smartwatches
More than anything, even an actual clock face, the difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker comes down to price. Whereas most good trackers are now available for under $100, a smartwatch will set you back closer to $300 and above. This is because fitness trackers track your fitness and that’s about it, whereas smartwatches can run apps, offer directions and better tell the time as well. The clue is in the name, folks.
How often do you want to recharge your tracker?
Although the battery life of most smartwatches is more tolerable than ever before, you’ll still need to recharge yours once every two days or so. If this seems like too much of a faff then a fitness tracker will spare you the same hassle by demanding you do the same once every six days or so. So by doing less, fitness bands will last longer.
Heart rate tracking is important, GPS is optional
All the trackers we’ve picked below offer heart rate tracking as standard, because it’s a solid marker as to how well and intensely you’ve been exercising. Not all come with GPS, which will track your location to see the route you’ve taken on your evening run or cycle. Why is GPS not essential in a fitness tracker? Your phone has it built in and – since all fitness trackers connect to your phone via Bluetooth – you’ll want to bring both with you when embracing the great outdoors.
Best fitness tracker
Fitbit Charge 3
Where other health tech wants to creep into every aspect of your life, Fitbit is very content at knowing its place: when you first connect your Fitbit to your phone, there will be no requests to access every single bit of your data, every surveillance device on there or even to really do anything other than sometimes tell you how many steps you’ve taken. When you do achieve this, however, your Fitbit will make it clear with a jubilee of rumbles and lights, but not so much that anyone but you will notice. With an astonishingly long battery life (we went for a week without charging it) plus no attempt to try to show texts or phone data on its small but perfectly formed screen, the Fitbit Charge 3 is exactly what we wanted in a tracker: a health gauge with an easy-to-use app that doesn’t try and usurp you. $125 at johnlewis.com
Best for iPhone
Apple Watch Series 3
Want the latest Apple Watch? Then you’ll be after the Series 5 model with its always-on display and in-built compass. For the purposes of getting in shape, the Apple Watch Series 3 does almost exactly the same job for less of your hard-earned dollar. It tracks most exercises under the sun up to and including swimming, has a veritable arsenal of apps to help guide your new-found fitness journey and has a charming way of presenting the results via its Activity rings. Crucially for anyone who needs to sharpen up for work each day, it tallies much better with a suit and tie than a natty tracker, especially since you can swap up its bands for more formal occasions. $260 at johnlewis.com
Best for testing your energy
Garmin Vivosmart 4
Garmin tends to major in sports watches for bona fide health freaks. You know, the types who tend to bring up their new PBs in casual conversation, bow at the altar of Strava and consider Barry’s Bootcamp to be... fun. The Vivosmart 4 boils down this expertise into a more casual-minded tracker with the unique “Body Battery” trick of being able to tell how much energy you have for exercise. The idea being you can pound the pavements when you’re best-equipped to conquer them, as opposed to being drained after a day’s work. Add sleep, stress and automatic activity tracking to this well-tuned cocktail of smarts and you have a tracker that can keep up with your improving stamina. $118 at johnlewis.com
Best for personalised guidance
Fitbit Versa 2
Fitbit’s latest smartwatch also happens to be its most complete fitness tracker to date. Essentially, it’s the Charge 3 with a music controls, a serviceable selection of apps and an altogether more personal touch. So long as you subscribe to the supplementary Fitbit Premium subscription service for $10 per month. As well as offering advanced insights into your sleep, sweating and most things in between, Fitbit Premium guides your fitness pursuits with a selection of do-it-at-home classes that are tailor-made to help you lose weight, gain muscle and the like. While these classes themselves aren’t especially revelatory compared to apps such as Fiit or Peloton, but they are a step up from what you’ll find for free on YouTube and eminently more affordable than the competition or a fully fledged gym subscription. $208 at johnlewis.com
Best Android smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Also known as Samsung’s Apple Watch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a smartwatch that’s been made specifically with fitness in mind. It’s especially well-suited for use with Android-powered smartphones such as those made by Google, Huawei and (you guessed it) Samsung, but does play nice with the iPhone as well. All the usual fitness essentials and a few extras are included in a suave wearable that’s as suited to the office as it is the swimming pool – especially since the Active 2’s always-on display means you can always see the time at a glance, something that’s not a given for a smartwatch. The downside? Aside from dedicated downloads for Spotify and Strava, there just aren’t that many apps available compared to Apple’s alternative. $313 at johnlewis.com