Most Popular Fitness Trackers
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At first, fitness trackers were designed more for function than fashion, as they were geared towards fitness buffs to wear when exercising, so style wasn’t really a concern. Since then, fitness trackers have been adopted by all kinds of people and are meant to be worn all day rather than just when you work out, so they need to look as good as any other accessory. In response to this need, the style in which fitness trackers can be worn has improved dramatically.
Now, trackers can be worn clipped on clothing, in pockets, or even on a necklace—and many third party sellers offer other ways to accessorize the big brand trackers. Wrist-worn trackers also come in various colors and can look sleek and fashionable, rather than bulky plastic children’s toys. There are several brands that offer fitness trackers that look like high end jewelry or like classic wristwatches, so they can be worn discreetly in the office. Consider everywhere that you want to wear the fitness tracker before you make your purchase (especially if you plan on wearing it all day every day) and decide what style works for you.Hide
The way that your tracker stores and syncs data is hugely important to the experience you have with your device. The most convenient trackers will sync data automatically and wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth. These tend to use up more battery, however. On the other end of the spectrum are the trackers that need to be plugged into a computer via USB to sync data. This means the data is only useful if you actually plug it in, which could be a deterrent to some people. You also run the risk of forgetting to put the device back on after you take it off to sync. If this is not an issue for you, then you don’t need to worry about automatic syncing. However, if it is, check to make sure the device syncs data automatically and wirelessly.Hide
Getting the full picture of your health requires input from other sources other than the app associated with your tracker - tracking fitness is only part of living a healthy lifestyle. This might include food logging and calorie counting, as well as activity specific metrics if your tracker doesn’t log those. Popular apps such as MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and MapMyRun are examples of the types of apps that track information you might not find in your tracker’s app. Choosing a tracker with an app that allows for third party app integration with programs like this can summarize ALL your health and fitness stats in one location for a complete look at your heath.Hide
The most basic fitness trackers measure steps, distance and calories... your general fitness needs. Beyond that, some will also detect when you are exercising, based on your heart rate and movements. For some fitness trackers you may have to log into the app to select what kind of activity you were doing and the level of effort, but the device will still automatically records a workout. If the tracker does not automatically track workouts, it may be possible to indicate via tapping the device that you are starting a workout and the exercise session will be tracked that way.
The more advanced trackers also contain smart sensors to detect what kind of exercise you are doing—running, cycling, swimming, climbing stairs, etc.—so you don’t have to record it yourself. This is especially helpful if you want to compare how your body reacts to different types of exercise to maximize results. Regardless, you should look for a tracker that is equipped for the specific activity or sport you like to do the most.Hide
Like activity tracking, sleep tracking is a common feature for most fitness trackers with much variation. The main difference between trackers is whether or not sleep is tracked automatically or manually. Automatic sleep tracking detects, based on your movements and heart rate, when you fall asleep and wake up, and records sleep metrics during that time. Manual sleep tracking either requires you to indicate to your tracker (via tapping the device, for example) that you are going to sleep/waking up, or you can set the times you were asleep in the app and register the metrics during that time as “sleep.” The unfortunate side effect of manual sleep tracking is that it’s not nearly as accurate as automatic sleep tracking. But, as with any fitness tracker feature, sleep tracking is only useful if you actually intend to use it.Hide
For devices that do track sleep, the quality of the metrics recorded varies. Some devices simply record the number of hours that you were asleep. Others go farther and tell you when you were in light, deep, or REM sleep, as well as how many times you woke up throughout the night. You may also be able to track your heart rate while you were asleep. Comparing these metrics with workout summaries and your general energy levels can help you get better and more productive sleep.Hide
A small, but still significant, feature of fitness trackers is the ability set alarms or reminders. First, there are alarms to wake you up in the morning. Usually, these are silent, vibrating alarms on your wrist, which is beneficial if you sleep with a partner and don’t want to wake them with a regular noisy alarm. Also, sometimes these alarms are “smart”, meaning they wake you up at the optimal time based on your heart rate or stage in the sleep cycle.
In addition to alarms to wake up, you may also have the option to set alarms that remind you to get up and move throughout the day. If you are mostly sedentary at your job, it’s nice to have a reminder to stretch your legs every once in awhile. You can also set reminders at different stages of your daily goals, such as when you reach certain step counts. All of these alarms and reminders empower you to get more out of your fitness tracker.Hide
The type of display or screen on fitness trackers varies widely by brand and price point—from a few LED lights to full color touchscreens. The main benefit of a screen is being able to read the time and your fitness stats any time of the day without needing to open an app on your phone or plug the tracker into your computer. This could be a positive or negative—some people prefer not to see progress and feel rewarded when they finally look at results and meet their goal. Others need a constant reminder of their status to push them to reach their goals. It’s totally up to you.
Oftentimes, you can also read smartphone notifications on a screen, depending on how advanced the tracker is. Every tracker will differ on what information is shown on the display, whether it’s the time, steps, heart rate, or other goals. Some will be a touchscreen, some will not. These aspects mainly affect ease of use, and will vary in importance by person. Finally, a display will also drain your battery more quickly, and come with a higher price tag.
As fitness trackers become more advanced, and as smart watches become more popular, the lines between the two are blurring, especially when it comes to linked capabilities between the device and your smartphone. Some fitness trackers sync with your smartphone and will send you notifications for calls, texts, email, or social media apps. Staying connected while you exercise without needing to check your phone can be a huge convenience, especially for long runs or workouts.Hide
For fitness trackers, batteries vary widely. Some trackers have rechargeable batteries that last anywhere from hours to days. Others take coin cell batteries like you would find a regular watch, which last a few months to a year. Needing to purchase and replace batteries can be a hassle… but so can plugging in your device every five or so days via USB cable to recharge it. Remembering to take the device off, charge it, and then remembering to put it back on, can seriously interrupt your fitness routine, especially if you’re worried you’ll forget it. Plys, if you want consistent sleep tracking, you don’t want to be charging it overnight. Both options have advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind while you compare options.
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