We all live busy lives. Cars, subways, buses and airliners make it possible for us to get things done in big cities. Chinese takeout and fast food restaurants keep us fed between college classes, work, daycare, church and all of the other activities that take up our lives.
With all of this business, however, it can be difficult to find the time to exercise. Worse, our hectic schedules make it challenging for many people to manage their fitness regimes.
But now, more than ever, fitness and exercise play a crucial role in ensuring we stay healthy in the face of office chairs, car rides and fatty fast foods.
That’s why many people use fitness trackers to help them take control of their health, including my wife.
My wife’s tracker is pretty simple – it lets her know how many steps she’s walked, miles she’s travelled and calories she’s burned. Others are more advanced, providing you with a detailed synopsis of all your exercises and aerobic activities.
There is no wrong way to pursue fitness. Some practice yoga. Others ride bikes, jog, swim, hike, lift weights, practice gymnastics, take boxing lessons, rebound on a trampoline. A lot of people combine a variety of aerobic activities into their regime.
Whether you want something to keep track of your footsteps or need a full-on guide to help you manage a serious routine, a fitness tracker can be your best friend.
Things to Consider
Although the ideal fitness tracker means different things to different people, there are some general things everyone (or most everyone) should keep in mind before they buy one. Here are five of the most critical things to consider.
1. Heart Rate Monitor
A lot of people, especially those engaged in more strenuous exercises, appreciate the information a heart rate monitor provides. If we lived in a perfect world, there would be a universal system of reading heart rates. But we live in a world where pounds and kilograms live side by side.
Different fitness trackers measure your heart rate in slightly different ways, and some provide more information than others. Knowing how to read this information and make proper use of it is critical to getting more out of your exercise.
2. Digital Display
All fitness trackers have a digital display of some kind or another, but these displays can vary greatly from model to model. Some trackers have LCD screens that provide all your critical information on the screen. Others only provide the most basic information, and you have to connect to an app to access the rest of your information. This brings me to our next point.
3. Fitness App
In many cases, the app that comes with your fitness tracker is just as important as the tracker itself. In much the same way, your tracker is only as good as your app. Try to do some research on the quality of the apps before you buy.
4. Battery Life
This is another area of major concern. How long can your tracker last before it runs out of juice? Most trackers do not run on battery power but are charged through a USB port and store a certain amount of electrical charge. If you frequently exercise for hours at a time, make sure your tracker is up to the task.
There’s an old Roman proverb that states, “Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.” However, if you end up buying a tracker that doesn’t give enough feedback – or more than you need – you won’t get the full worth of what you’re paying for. Figure out your fitness needs before you buy.
The Best Fitness Trackers
Best Fitness Trackers Under $25
Keoker ID115 Fitness Tracker
I don’t know what model of fitness tracker my wife uses exactly, but it’s something similar to the Keoker ID115. This just-the-basics tracker comes in five colours, costs less than $20 and has a simple display screen that lets it effectively double as a watch. In addition to telling time, the display screen also shows your remaining battery life.
The Keoker ID115 is the perfect example of how many fitness trackers are dependent on their apps. By itself, the tracker hardly offers any useful information at all. However, this Bluetooth-enabled device communicates directly with your cellphone, offering a variety of useful feedback. For example, the sleep monitor keeps track of your hours of sleep, including how much time you spend in REM sleep.
It also monitors the number of steps you walk each day, the distance you cover, the number of calories you burn, etc. It can even sync with various other apps and vibrates, reminding you to read incoming messages.
The Keoker ID115 isn’t the right fit for everyone. It does not have a heart monitor, and it is not waterproof, so you can’t wear it while swimming or in the shower. However, it can hold a charge for three to four days, so you don’t have to worry about constantly recharging the unit.
If you’re a swimmer or engage in serious aerobics or body training, you’re going to want to invest in something a little more advanced. But if you’re just looking for a simple tracker to keep you motivated, this is your ticket.
Best Fitness Trackers Under $50
Jarv Elite IPX7 Fitness Tracker
The Jarv Elite IPX7 is similar to the ID15 in a lot of ways. It has a similar design, including a display screen that gives the time and battery life. There are a few significant differences between the two models, however.
The IPX7 performs all of the same basic functions as the Keoker ID115. It tracks your footsteps and the miles you walk, monitors your sleep habits and communicates all of this information directly to the app on your phone via Bluetooth.
The IPX7 has an impressive battery life, running for up to ten days on a single charge. It is also water resistant up to a meter for half an hour. This means you can ear it in the shower or a dip in the hot tub, but it’s not suitable for swimming. It even has a UV sensor to alert you if you’re in danger of getting sunburnt.
All in all, this is quite a capable fitness tracker, with some useful functions and a long battery life. However, it still lacks a heart rate monitor, and it isn’t suitable for swimming, so, like the Keoker ID115, this isn’t suitable for swimmers or serious athletes.
Coffea H7-HR Fitness Tracker
The Coffea H7-HR fitness and activity tracker is the first tracker on this list that includes a heart monitor. Although it is similar in design to the previous trackers on this list, the H7-HR is slightly larger and features a more attractive, information display.
As an activity monitor, it keeps track of your physical index, how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you burned, how fast you walked. It also offers 14 training modes to help you better understand and improve your fitness level. The sleep monitor gives you valuable feedback about ways you can maximize your rest, and the heart monitor records your heart both when you exercise and when you’re at rest.
The fitness tracker offers a few other bonus features, such as weather forecasts and silent, vibrating alarms. However, this tracker is not rated for use in water and is thus not a suitable fitness tracker for swimmers. The tracker can run for four days of continuous use or between seven to ten days of idle operation.
Moov Now 3D Fitness Tracker
The Moov Now Fitness Tracker is a completely new kind of fitness tracker. This innovative model is programmed with a basic AI that coaches you during your workouts, encouraging you to push further and make the most out of your exercises.
Moov Now does everything you expect from a fitness tracker. It keeps track of your steps, your miles, your calories and your speed. It has built-in coaching programs that walk you through a variety of different athletic sports. It’s water proof, allowing you to take it with you on your swims, keeping track of your strokes and your lap times.
Even better, you don’t have to worry about charging it. Moov Now is powered by a replaceable battery that lasts six months. There is no heart monitor or sleep monitor in this tracker. This is more like a personalized assisting working with you to help you get the most out of your workouts and push yourself to the next level. This is a great product for serious athletes, but probably not suitable for those who want a simple device.
Best Fitness Trackers Under $100
Garmin vívofit Fitness Band
In addition to being a fitness tracker, the Garmin Vivofit Fitness Band is also a GPS unit, making it easier for you to stay in touch with the rest of your life. Did you go somewhere and leave your phone at home? Your friend can figure out where you are, thanks to the GPS tracker, and take it straight to you!
The Vivofit keeps tabs on your walking, calories burned and other useful features like a typical tracker, even offering personalized goals for you every morning. A sleep tracker lets you know how well you’re sleeping and if you need to change anything.
The display features the time of day and your walking stats. The battery is designed to run for a year and can be replaced when it burns out. There is no heart rate monitor, and the tracker isn’t waterproof, but this is a good tracker for those who want a little more than the basics from their tracker.
POLAR FT7 Heart Rate Monitor
Unlike some other fitness trackers, the Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor is a heart rate monitor first and a fitness tracker second. It provides you with real-time, up-to-date information on your heart rate, helping you to make the most out of your workouts.
Factoring your heart rate is essential to achieving a good workout. The FT7 provides a visual display on the LCD that lets you check your heart rate at a glance. It can also tell you whether your routines are working towards improving fitness or burning fat. A Smart Calorie features informs you how many calories you burn during a session, helping you to plan your diet around your workouts. The monitor is waterproof down to 30 meters (100 feet).
As a fitness tracker, Polar FT7 offers just the bare minimum of features. But as far as a heart rate monitor is concerned, this one is first-rate, and since it is waterproof, you can even monitor your heart rate while swimming.
Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband
The Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity tracker is back to being a standard-style fitness tracker, even down to its minimalist design. It’s available in eight different colours and is made with rubber.
I’ve described the basic functions of a fitness tracker several times at this point, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much. The Fitbit Flex provides all basic exercise tracking features as well as a sleep monitor. It has a clock on it and connects to the app on your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth.
There’s nothing wrong with this fitness tracker, but at the same time, I don’t see that it does anything a lot of cheaper models can’t do. There’s no heart rate monitor, and while it is water-resistant, you can’t swim with it. In my opinion, you’re better off buying the ID115 or the IPX7.
Best Fitness Trackers Under $150
Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker
The Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker is a sleek, modern-looking tracker with a stylish, minimalist display. It has a very intuitive app that is easy to read and understand.
Like the Fitbit Flex, the Fitbit Alta offers all the basics but not a lot more. As near as I can tell, the most innovative function of the Fitbit Alta is its crisp aesthetic, which allows you to swap out the armband for a different colour at any time. The charge lasts for five days, but it is recommended to charge it every two or three days. The Alta is water resistant, but not suitable for showering or swimming.
Honestly, I’m not sure what differences there are between Alta and Flex. They’re from the same company and utilize the same app, have the same battery life and share all the same features. This is a good fitness tracker, but I just don’t see how it improves on the Fitbit Flex.
Samsung Gear Fit Fitness Tracker
I love the design of the Samsung Gear Fit Fitness Tracker. It looks almost exactly like a typical digital watch, with the same style of the band as watches use. I also appreciate the subtle differences between the Samsung Gear and the Fitbit models.
While it does mostly all the same things, it’s watch-like appearance makes it better suited for professional settings, and it does offer a heart rate sensor. While this isn’t a full-fledged monitor and won’t give you the detailed feedback of the Polar FT7, it can provide some guidance while jogging, hiking or riding a bike.
Like most fitness trackers, this connects to your phone via Bluetooth, notifying you of incoming calls and messages and even letting you reject or accept incoming calls. The downside to the Samsung Gear is its app. Where Fitbit has an intuitive, fully realized app interface, the Samsung app lags behind, and it is harder to customize the experience. This is a great watch and fitness tracker, but it’s not perfect.
Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband
The Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker is a major change in design from the other fitness trackers on this list, if but for one simple reason: the digital display is much more muted. That difference is a superficial one, however; Fitbit Charge HR improves on earlier Fitbit models in some significant ways.
For example, the Fitbit Charge has a heart monitor that lets you see your heart rate during certain activities or times of the day by measuring your pulse. It also tracks your exercise routine, helping you to watch your progress grow or just make sure you’re staying on track. It can connect with more devices than ever before, including Android, iOS and Windows phones, as well as your Windows desktop.
Everything else here is what you’d expect. Sadly, like other Fitbit trackers this isn’t suitable for swimming, but for just about anything else, Fitbit can help you become the best you can be.
Picking the right fitness tracker depends on you knowing what you need and what you’re looking for. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you will know exactly what you need and will have already found what you’re looking for. If you’re still unsure, the Editor’s Pick is a great choice. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!
*All prices mentioned above are at the time of publishing.