When you’re on a journey to good health, every step counts. And that’s where a fitness tracker comes in so handy.
Getting those steps in—at least 10,000 a day—helps control weight, fight disease, build muscle and increase energy levels. Moreover, it’s also a major mood booster, according to a 2019 study published in Jama Psychiatry.
A bit of history: Leonardo da Vinci invented the first known fitness tracker by wearing a long lever at his waist that was tied to his thigh. His moving leg caused gears to rotate, thus counting his steps.
We’ve come a long way since then. Today’s fitness trackers count steps, sure. But they also monitor heartrate, evaluate sleep, play music, navigate routes and much more. Some can even put you in stealth mode (we’ll get to that in a minute.)
With so many options to choose from, it all comes down to personal preference. Do you need your tracker to look good enough to wear to work? Should it be waterproof? How about play music? How much are you willing to spend? Do you mind charging your tracker every day?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best options out there.
You can get a Fitbit for $69.95—the Fitbit Inspire, which tracks steps, heartrate and sleep and holds a charge for up to five days. But the star of the show at Fitbit these days is the Versa 2 ($199.95). Because it has all of those cool fitness tracker features, as well as the ability to play music and receive notifications from your smart phone. Plus, it’s available in colors like emerald with copper rose aluminum and is attractive enough to wear when you want to look nice.
PRO: Loads of functionality and, if you’re into it, you can still join Fitbit challenges with your friends.
CON: iPhone users can’t reply to texts and Android users are limited to a set of pre-determined quick replies.
Let the kids in on the fitness tracker fun with this brightly colored tracker ($69.95), which works much the same way as the Fitbit Inspire, but offers styling designed for little ones.
PRO: You get all of the great features Fitbit is known for.
CON: How likely is your kid to lose this? You may want a cheaper option.
Fossil has long been a favorite of watch fans. And they’ve managed to keep pace with the times by entering the smartwatch market. Their Sport watches (currently on sale for $99) are billed as “lighter and brighter” than Fossil’s more traditional offerings. Even better, it offers features like activity tracking, music controls, google pay, gps, heart-rate tracking, notifications and more.
PRO: So stylish and fun with all of the great features found on fitness trackers.
CON: Work in a law office or headed to a wedding? If you want to wear your fitness tracker all the time, this might not be the best look for such occasions.
Touted as the world’s first analog watch with a built-in electrocardiogram (to detect atrial fibrillation) this tracker (price not yet available) is still awaiting clearance from the FDA but is expected to be available soon. In addition to its heart-healthy features, the watch offers all of the standard suite of fitness tracker tools—wrapped up in an office-acceptable package.
PRO: This fitness tracker could be a literal lifesaver.
CON: It’s first-generation technology, which often means there are bugs to be worked out.
From the earliest days of their brightly colored desktops, Apple has always cared about how it looks—and this watch ($399) is no exception. Choose from one of the peppy options available or create your own. Either way, you know what you’re getting with an Apple watch: a fitness tracker that also evaluates hourly movement, calories burned, relaxation, VO2 Max data, hours spent standing and workout tracking for everything from swimming to yoga.
PRO: If you’re an Apple fan, this will integrate seamlessly with everything in your life.
CON: If you pride yourself on standing out and being unique, you might not like seeing this watch on the wrists of millions of other consumers.
Just about every fitness tracker out there can tell you the time and your steps, and many can also give you your heartrate, navigate routes and play music. But how many can stay powered for more than a week in the wilderness? Or carry out field ops undetected with tactical-specific features such as night-vision compatibility? This Garmin ($1,099) harnesses the power of the sun and is built to U.S. military standards so that it can do all that and more. You might not need stealth mode or a kill switch, but it’s kind of awesome to have them anyway.
PRO: If you have actual field ops on your to-do list, this watch will come in very handy. But, even if you don’t, it offers many features for those who like to get lost in the great outdoors for a while.
CON: The price!
Sometimes, you want to keep it simple—and save your money. If that’s you, check out this waterproof fitness tracker ($25.70). It also checks in on your heart-rate and sleep and allows you to receive notifications from your phone.
PRO: The price!
CON: You don’t have access to the online community of fitness trackers like Fitbit.
How Fitness Trackers Can Keep Your Metabolism Revved
There are a lot of things that can drag your metabolism down, as well as many that can keep your body burning maximum calories. Fitness trackers are just one tool in the journey to maintain good health. So get moving—in the sunshine, in the rain, with friends or alone. It’s all part of the joy of living.