Fitness trackers are more popular than ever. Five years ago, few people wore smartwatches or activity bands when working out. Today, it’s rare to see someone running without one.
Today’s top fitness trackers measure heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep activity, and other useful data. They provide crucial metrics for your health and wellness. Some people use fitness trackers to maximize strength training gains. Others use fitness trackers to improve sleep. Some use them for weight loss, running, cycling, or even swimming.
What’s the best fitness tracker you can buy in 2020? What are the top activity bands and smart watches for tracking activity? Our editorial team tested and ranked the best fitness trackers available today. Here’s what we found.
Ranking the Top 21 Best Fitness Trackers in 2020
After much deliberation, our editorial team collected the best fitness trackers available today, including all the fitness trackers listed below.
- 1 Ranking the Top 21 Best Fitness Trackers in 2020
- 1.1 KoreTrak Smart Body Tracker
- 1.2 Fitbit Inspire
- 1.3 Wyze Band
- 1.4 Garmin Vivosmart 4
- 1.5 Fitbit Charge 3
- 1.6 Fitbit Charge 4
- 1.7 Letsfit Smart Watch
- 1.8 YAMAY Smart Watch Fitness Tracker
- 1.9 Lintelek Fitness Tracker
- 1.10 BIGGERFIVE Fitness Tracker Watch
- 1.11 FITFORT Fitness Tracker
- 1.12 LETSCOM Fitness Tracker
- 1.13 Vabogu Fitness Tracker
- 1.14 L8star Fitness Tracker
- 1.15 Fitbit Versa 2
- 1.16 Inspiratek Kids Fitness Tracker
- 1.17 Fitbit Ace 2
- 1.18 Willfull Fitness Tracker
- 1.19 Garmin Vivosport
- 1.20 MorePro Blood Oxygen SPO2 Heart Rate Monitor
- 1.21 Akasma Fitness Tracker
- 2 How We Ranked
- 3 Who Should Use a Fitness Tracker?
- 4 How Do Fitness Trackers Work?
- 5 FAQs About Fitness Trackers
- 5.1 Q: What is a fitness tracker?
- 5.2 Q: How do fitness trackers work?
- 5.3 Q: Can a fitness tracker help with weight loss?
- 5.4 Q: How long does a fitness tracker last?
- 5.5 Q: Do I need to connect my phone to my fitness tracker?
- 5.6 Q: Do I need to use a special app with my fitness tracker?
- 5.7 Q: How do I charge my fitness tracker?
- 5.8 Q: Is my smartwatch waterproof?
- 5.9 Q: Do fitness trackers measure heart rate 24 hours a day?
- 5.10 Q: How does a fitness tracker automatically detect sports and activities?
- 5.11 Q: What sports can I track with my fitness tracker?
- 5.12 Q: Can fitness trackers track weightlifting?
- 5.13 Q: Can I swim with my fitness tracker?
- 5.14 Q: What’s the difference between a cheap and expensive fitness tracker?
- 5.15 Q: Do fitness trackers share my data? Should I be nervous about sharing all my physical data with my fitness tracker company?
- 5.16 Q: Do fitness trackers cause cancer?
- 5.17 Q: What’s the best fitness tracker?
- 5.18 Q: How much should I spend on a fitness tracker?
- 5.19 Q: Do fitness trackers work on treadmills?
- 5.20 Q: Where to buy a fitness tracker?
- 5.21 Q: Is there any scientific evidence that fitness trackers help with weight loss?
- 6 Final Word
KoreTrak Smart Body Tracker
KoreTrak is one of the best-known smartwatches and fitness trackers on this list in the month of August. The KoreTrak Smart Body Tracker offers similar functionality to the top-rated options at a surprisingly competitive price. At $50 per fitness tracker, KoreTrak measures activity, blood pressure, heartrate, sleep activity, and more. You can pair it with any phone via Bluetooth. Or, you can use KoreTrak without a phone, allowing the device to store up to 7 days of information before syncing to your phone.
Some might argue the high-tech KoreTrak watch wristband would not win any fashion awards, but the KoreTrak fitness tracking smartwatch is also very sleek with a sexy interface that provides users with intuitive one-touch controls.
The debate on whether or not it has the quality material and build durability of big brand model options on our list is put to rest when seeing the KoreTrak watch is of sound structure and integrity. If you want a functional fitness tracker at an exceptionally reasonable rate, then KoreTrak earns our number one spot due to its appeal and affordability.
The Fitbit Inspire is one of the most popular fitness trackers available today. Priced at just $50 to $60, the Fitbit Inspire features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, calorie burning, and activity tracking, among other features. It comes with a durable elastomer material similar to the material used in sports watches.
If you like multi-day battery life, then the Fitbit Inspire may be the right choice. With up to 5 days of battery life per charge, you don’t have to take off the Inspire every night to charge it. And, when you do need to charge it, the Inspire goes from 0 to 100% in just two hours. It’s also one of the best-rated waterproof fitness trackers on this list because it’s fully water resistant up to 50 meters underwater. At $50, it’s only slightly more expensive than the ultra-budget options listed here. It’s easily one of the best fitness trackers available today.
The Wyze Band isn’t as well-known as Fitbit’s smart watches, although it has quietly made a name for itself as one of the best fitness trackers available today. And, at just $30, it competes with the ultra-budget fitness trackers listed further down – yet offers better build quality and more features at the same price.
The Wyze Band does all the big things right, including activity, heart rate, and sleep tracking. It also goes beyond steps to measure daily fitness goals, heart rate, sleep activity, and more. Plus, you can receive smartphone notifications, access Amazon Alexa by talking into the watch, enjoy 5-ATM water-resistance (waterproof up to 50 meters), and an astonishing 10 to 14 days of battery life. If you want a world-class smartwatch at a surprisingly cheap price, then the Wyze Band is an easy choice.
Garmin Vivosmart 4
Garmin, like Fitbit and Wyze, is one of the leading fitness tracker brands available today. You might know Garmin for its GPS network, but the company also offers powerful fitness trackers. Garmin’s Vivosmart is more expensive than many competing options listed here (available for around $100), but it’s also one of the most durable and multi-functional fitness trackers on this list.
Many also claim the Vivosmart 4 is the best-looking fitness tracker. It features a sleek, minimalistic design. It’s also available in multiple stylish colors, including midnight, silver, and rose gold. In terms of activity tracking, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 tracks everything you expect it to track, including steps, sports, distance traveled, and sleep. It also tracks things other fitness trackers don’t track, including REM sleep, blood oxygen saturation levels, VO2 max, and breathing. With 7 days of battery life, you can recharge the Garmin Vivosmart 4 whenever you like.
Fitbit Charge 3
The Fitbit Charge 3 is a more feature-rich version of the Fitbit Inspire listed above. It measures calories burned, resting heart rate, and more, lasting approximately 7 days per charge. You can easily track 15 different exercises with the device, including running, biking, swimming, yoga, circuit training, and more. You can record the time you spend in light, deep, and REM sleep. The smartwatch is also waterproof up to 50 meters underwater.
Overall, the Fitbit Charge 3 is a durable, stylish, and highly functional smartwatch capable of tracking everything you need it to track. It’s an improved version of the Charge 2, with the Charge 3 featuring a touchscreen display, better waterproofing, a longer battery life, and app notifications, among other benefits.
Fitbit Charge 4
If you don’t mind paying a premium, then the Charge 4 is another highly effective smartwatch from the industry-leading team at Fitbit. The Fitbit Charge 4 comes with unique colors like rosewood, black, and granite. It tracks activity, heart rate, sleep, and everything else you expect a fitness tracker to track. It also tracks more sports than the average Fitbit, capable of tracking 20 different types of movement. Plus, with built-in Spotify app controls, it’s easy to control your music from the device.
What’s the difference between the Charge 3 and Charge 4? The Charge 4 is $50 more expensive. It also has a built-in GPS and a new Active Zone Minutes feature. Aside from that, it’s largely the same as the Charge 3 – which is why we ranked the Charge 3 higher.
Letsfit Smart Watch
The Letsfit Smart Watch is a surprisingly popular item on Amazon despite being relatively unknown compared to the names listed above. With 11,000+ reviews on Amazon, the Letsfit Smart Watch has an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5.
The Letsfit Smart Watch also comes with a 1.3” touch screen, IP68 waterproofing, sleep and step monitoring, stress tracking, and more. It also has one of the longest battery lifespans on this list, lasting 10 days on a single charge. With smartphone notifications, calorie burning, multi-sport tracking, and 24/7 syncing, the Letsfit Smart Watch has the capability of a high-end fitness tracker – but at a cheaper price.
YAMAY Smart Watch Fitness Tracker
With 2,000+ reviews on Amazon, the YAMAY Smart Watch Fitness Tracker has an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. It’s one of the most popular and bestselling smartwatches on this list. Like other budget smartwatches, YAMAY emphasizes value over functionality. The fitness tracker has basic fitness tracking functionality and a cheaper design, but it’s priced at just $36, which is ridiculously affordable for a smart device like this.
Key features on the YAMAY Smart Watch Fitness Tracker include step counting, distance traveled, 7-sport tracking, and IP68 waterproofing. You can connect the tracker to your phone for more analytics or to display smartphone notifications. When worn at night, the YAMAY Smart Watch Fitness Tracker tracks sleep quality. It even has an alarm clock, music controller, deep breath guide, and sedentary reminder, among other features we don’t see on competing smartwatches listed here.
Lintelek Fitness Tracker
Lintelek’s Fitness Tracker has 2,500+ ratings and 4.2 stars out of 5 on Amazon, making it another popular and well-rated option. Like many other smartwatches listed here, the Lintelek Fitness Tracker emphasizes good value. At just $26 per smartwatch, you get a basic fitness tracker capable of tracking steps, heartrate, and more.
Lintelek’s fitness tracker is available in 12 different colors. You can war it daily to record steps, distance, calories burned, and more. Switch between 14 different sports modes for accurate data. Connect the Lintelek Fitness Tracker to your phone via GPS for additional data. The Lintelek Fitness Tracker will also display smartphone notifications and allow you to receive calls, among other benefits.
BIGGERFIVE Fitness Tracker Watch
The BIGGERFIVE Fitness Tracker Watch is an IP67 waterproof smartwatch that tracks steps, calorie burning, and other activities. The smartwatch is primarily marketed towards kids and may be too basic for those with more advanced needs. But, at $22, it’s an easy way to get kids interested in fitness, calorie counting, and exercise.
The BIGGERFIVE Fitness Tracker Watch is well-rated by Amazon users. With 1,300+ reviews, the watch has an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5, which is higher than most competing fitness trackers on the list. Although it’s marketed towards parents and kids, it works as a cheap fitness tracker for those of all ages.
FITFORT Fitness Tracker
The FITFORT Fitness Tracker comes with a blood pressure monitor, which is something we don’t see with many other cheap fitness trackers listed here. The smartwatch also has other unique features – like a reminder to drink water periodically.
The FITFORT unit is also one of the few low-cost devices with IP68 waterproofing – not just IP67 waterproofing. That means you can swim or shower with the smartwatch without issue. The FITFORT Fitness Tracker also measures 14 exercises, including running, riding, basketball, tennis, and even yoga and dancing. It’s a functional fitness tracker at an affordable price.
LETSCOM Fitness Tracker
The LETSCOM Fitness Tracker measures heart rate, activity, steps, calories, and more. It has a basic, functional design. It doesn’t have the build quality of higher-ranked options on our list, but it does have one of the cheapest prices: at just $24, the LETSCOM Fitness Tracker is ridiculously affordable.
Don’t expect high-end design and materials with the LETSCOM Fitness Tracker. However, the device still connects to your phone, tracks 14 different types of exercise, measures sleep quality, and displays phone notifications, among other features. It’s an effective smart fitness tracker offering the best-value on this list – and it’s available in eight different colors.
Vabogu Fitness Tracker
The Vabogu Fitness Tracker tracks heart rate, blood pressure, steps, sleep, calorie burning, and more. It also has a vibrating alarm, IP68 waterproofing, smartphone notifications, intelligent reminders, and more.
Overall, it’s a standard smartwatch that doesn’t distinguish itself from other options on this list for features – but it does distinguish itself based on price. At just $21 per watch, the Vabogu Fitness Tracker is the most budget-friendly option on this list. You won’t get the accurate data or long lifespan of higher-ranked options on this list, but you’re getting a functional fitness tracker for $21
L8star Fitness Tracker
The L8star Fitness Tracker is a $30 smartwatch that looks like a $150 smartwatch. The colorful screen doesn’t look like other low-budget smartwatches on this list. IT also has the features of a higher-end watch, including a long lifespan, sleep monitoring, step counters, calorie counters, and more.
Like the Vabogu Fitness Tracker above, the L8star Fitness Tracker doesn’t do anything differently from the higher-ranked smartwatches above – but it does distinguish itself with its low price. At just $30 per unit, the L8star Fitness Tracker provides incredible value in a stylish package. Amazon users agree, giving it an average rating of 4.0 stars out of 5 with 2,300+ reviews.
Fitbit Versa 2
Fitbit’s Versa 2 is the most expensive option on this list. At $200, it delivers higher-end features at a higher price than its competitors. It’s also available in fashionable, luxurious-looking colors, including black/carbon, Bordeaux / copper rose, and petal, among other unique options.
The Versa 2 has built-in Amazon Alexa functionality, allowing you to check the weather, set reminders, start an exercise, and do more all from your smartwatch. Just tap the button and talk into the watch. You also get a 90-day free trial of Fitbit Premium with your purchase, which includes exercises and more. With 20+ exercise tracking options, waterproofing up to 50 meters, and 7 to 10 days of battery life, the Versa 2 is similar to other higher-ranked options on our list – but with a more stylish appearance.
Inspiratek Kids Fitness Tracker
Looking for an effective fitness tracker for kids? Want to get your kids interested in fitness and sleep tracking? The Inspiratek Kids Fitness Tracker is designed to do just that. The $28 fitness tracker is easy to use and comes with a kid-friendly design and color scheme.
The watch has 10 built-in functions and a custom app. You can buy it in colors like red, black, pink, or white. It’s not suitable for high-end athletes – nor is it designed for them. If you want a great birthday present for a kid, however, then the Inspiratek Kids Fitness Tracker may be the right choice.
Fitbit Ace 2
Fitbit’s Ace 2 is the company’s activity tracker for kids. It features a child-friendly design and color scheme, an affordable price, and a durable case that should withstand even the messiest kids. The Ace 2 also comes with features we see on higher-end fitness trackers, including waterproofing up to 50 meters and multi-activity tracking.
Where the Ace 2 really differentiates itself from the competition, however, is with its gamified fitness tracking system. Kids can earn badges for being active, for example, encouraging them to lead a healthier life. If you want to make fitness tracking fun for kids, then the Fitbit Ace 2 is an excellent device from a reputable name.
Willfull Fitness Tracker
Willfull’s Fitness Tracker is a value option with premium features. The fitness tracker has 14 exercise modes, heart rate tracking, step tracking, calorie tracking, and more. You can connect it to your phone to track calls and messages. And, it’s IP68 waterproof – something we don’t see on other budget devices.
We also appreciate the Willfull Fitness Tracker’s battery life. The device lasts 7 to 10 days on a single charge. It also has 4 different clock face options, an alarm clock, a camera controller, and a sedentary reminder, among other features. At $26, you get a decent-quality fitness tracker at a budget price.
Garmin’s Vivosport fitness tracker comes with GPS and heart rate monitoring, VO2 max tracking, all-day stress tracking, and other fitness monitoring tools. At $130, it’s more expensive than other options on this list, although you get Garmin’s durability, quality design, and accurate measuring systems. If you don’t mind the higher price tag, you’ll find plenty of added features ideal for users with more extensive fitness tracking needs.
Choose from unique colors like limelight, slate, and fuchsia focus on checkout. All Garmin Vivosport fitness trackers have a built-in GPS, which means you don’t need to connect it to your phone to track location – which is another reason the Vivosport is more expensive than competing options.
MorePro Blood Oxygen SPO2 Heart Rate Monitor
MorePro’s Blood Oxygen SPO2 Heart Rate Monitor is a waterproof fitness tracker that works as a sleep monitor, step tracker, heart rate monitor, and more.
The device runs for 5 days on a single charge and is compatible with Android 4.4, iOS 8.0, or newer. At $46 per smartwatch, you get additional features you don’t see on cheaper units, including a 1.14-inch color display that looks significantly better than some of the sub-$40 options listed here. However, you need to place your finger on the device to monitor heartrate- it doesn’t monitor heartrate automatically. Like other cheaper units, this can reduce the effectiveness of the device.
Akasma Fitness Tracker
Akasma’s Fitness Tracker is the cheapest option on our list. Priced at just $18, the device tracks heart rate, sleep, steps, and 12 different sports. It offers surprisingly powerful functionality – and it’s also IP68 waterproof, something you rarely see with sub-$30 fitness trackers.
If you want to test out fitness tracking without investing in a $150+ device, then the Akasma Fitness Tracker is a good entry point. It provides many of the same features as higher-end devices, although the cheap price tag makes it a low-risk investment. Other features we like on the Akasma Fitness Tracker include the 5 day battery life, vibration alert function, sleep data tracking, and more.
How We Ranked
Most fitness trackers advertise the same benefits. They all claim to track your fitness and movement, helping you train more effectively, optimize sleep, lose weight, and enjoy other benefits. However, fitness trackers vary widely in terms of quality. We separated good and bad fitness trackers based on the following metrics:
Activity Tracking: Some smartwatches track 15 or more sports automatically. Other fitness trackers only track steps taken or calories.
Features: Some fitness trackers connect to your phone to display smartphone notifications, track sleep, and have countless other features that enhance their usefulness. The best fitness trackers are feature-rich and adaptable for multiple uses and situations.
Accuracy: Some fitness trackers have bad algorithms. You might go for a drive around your neighborhood, then receive a notification from your fitness tracker congratulating you on setting a world-record running time.
Usability: Is the fitness tracker easy to use? Does it come with a helpful app? Does it automatically detect activities? Some fitness trackers are annoying to use, while others have invested in UI/UX and usability.
Durability: Most fitness trackers are designed to be worn in a variety of settings – whether you’re swimming or running in the rain. Durability is important. Good fitness trackers last years. Cheaper fitness trackers last just a few weeks before breaking down.
Style & Appearance: If you’re wearing something on your wrist 24 hours a day, you want it to look good. Some fitness trackers look cool and futuristic. Others look like cheap watches. Although it wasn’t the most important factor, we considered style and appearance in our rankings.
Built-in Sensors vs. Phone Sensors: Some fitness trackers have virtually no on-board sensors, relying entirely on your phone’s sensors for data. Other fitness trackers have built-in GPS tracking systems and other functions, allowing you to use the smartwatch with or without connecting to your phone.
Waterproofing: Even cheaper fitness trackers have IP67 waterproofing, which means they can survive submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 seconds. Some of the higher-quality fitness trackers have IP68 waterproofing. Some of the best-rated fitness trackers above, including certain Fitbit and Wyze devices, are 5ATM rated, which means they can survive 50 meters (164 feet) underwater.
Price & Value: Some of the fitness trackers above are priced at just $20 to $40 yet have the same features as higher-ranked options. Even the leading fitness tracker companies have budget options available. We featured fitness trackers at all different price levels, although we emphasized good value at all price ranges.
Battery Life: A fitness tracker that only lasts a few hours isn’t very useful. A good fitness tracker lasts at least a full day on one charge. Some of the best fitness trackers last a week or more per charge.
Mobile Compatibility & Connectivity: Some of the worst fitness trackers struggle to connect to smartphones. They might have a small Bluetooth radius, for example, which means frequent disconnects and drops. Good mobile compatibility is crucial for fitness trackers.
Manufacturer Reputation & Transparency: Some of the fitness trackers above come from reputable, recognizable brands – like Garmin and Fitbit. Others are lesser-known. We weren’t biased towards any particular brand, although we did prefer manufacturers that were reputable and transparent. Some of the fitness trackers above are made in Chinese factories for cheap prices, then sold online at 10x the cost. You can buy fitness trackers from Alibaba for as little as $5 per unit, for example. We analyzed each company carefully before adding it to our list.
Who Should Use a Fitness Tracker?
People use fitness trackers for all different reasons.
Runners and cyclists use fitness trackers, for example, to track distance traveled, calories burned, route maps, GPS positioning, and more.
Swimmers use fitness trackers to track similar data. Many fitness trackers are completely waterproof, which means you can swim with them. Most leading fitness trackers also have specific swim tracking settings, making it easy to track your number of laps, distance traveled, heartrate during exercise, and more.
Others wear fitness trackers for health reasons. Maybe you’re concerned about your heartrate and blood pressure. Maybe your doctor wants you to monitor your physiological data during the day. Maybe you’re curious about situations that cause your blood pressure or heartrate to spike. Maybe you just want to see how your heart rate changes when you’re watching a big game.
Some wear fitness trackers to improve sleep. A good fitness tracker measures your sleep quality. You can track the number of hours slept, for example, and how restless you were during sleep. Have you ever noticed that you’re sluggish some days but not others? A smartwatch with a sleep tracker can help optimize your rest.
Some fitness trackers can also track weightlifting. A good fitness tracker can measure your number of repetitions, for example, making it easy to track your strength training progress. Fitness trackers aren’t just for cardio!
Some people simply like to quantify their lives – and they feel naked without a fitness tracker. Maybe you like knowing how many miles you run each week. Maybe you’re on a strict diet or training routine.
Fitness trackers are for amateur and professional athletes alike. Many sports teams ask athletes to wear fitness trackers to optimize sleep, performance, and training. They might have more advanced fitness trackers than the ones listed above, but they track similar biometric data.
Many people also use fitness trackers for weight loss. Do you struggle to lose weight? A fitness tracker makes it easy to track calories consumed, calories burned, distance traveled, and other information. Many people think they’re following a strict diet and should be losing weight – only to realize they’re eating more and exercising less than they realized.
Some wear a fitness tracker during the day to avoid being sedentary. Many fitness trackers have sedentary alarms. If you have remained still for too long, the fitness tracker vibrates to remind you to get active or take a break.
Others use fitness trackers to wake up in the morning. Many fitness trackers have vibrating alarms, for example. If you want to wake up without alerting your partner, for example, then a vibrating smartwatch alarm may be perfect.
You expect a fitness tracker to track running and cycling. But many are surprised at other activities fitness trackers can track, including yoga, dancing, swimming, hiking, climbing, and more.
No matter why you want to wear a fitness tracker, the top-ranked smartwatches above can help track everything in your life.
How Do Fitness Trackers Work?
Fitness trackers measure steps, distance, location, and other metrics, although they work in significantly different ways.
Some of the higher-end fitness trackers have a built-in GPS. There’s a GPS unit on the smartwatch that connects to satellite positioning systems wherever you go – regardless of whether or not you have a phone.
Most fitness trackers, however, rely on your phone’s GPS to track your location. This is a smart way to save space and money: fitness tracking companies realize most people have a GPS (their smartphone) with them at all times, so why bother adding a second GPS with a fitness tracker?
Most fitness trackers also have a 3 axis accelerometer. This accelerometer records movement in all three dimensions. The tracker uses accelerometer data to track if you’re walking forward, running backwards, standing still, or doing any other movement.
The fitness tracker analyzes this data, then categorizes the movements into different activities. Some fitness trackers track movement automatically, using algorithms to determine the difference between playing basketball and running on a track.
Some lower-end fitness trackers don’t even have an accelerometer; instead, they use your phone’s accelerometer. Just like your phone has a GPS, your smartphone also has an accelerometer or gyrometer. Some fitness trackers rely on this data for activity tracking.
How does a fitness tracker know how many steps you’ve taken? Most fitness trackers ask for basic personal information upfront. The fitness tracker uses this personal information to determine certain information – like how many steps a six-foot tall person would take, on average, when walking 4 miles.
Fitness trackers may also ask for your weight, allowing them to calculate approximate calorie burning.
Using these basic sensors, a fitness tracker can tell you how many steps you’ve taken, how quickly you traveled, and how many calories you’ve burned, among other metrics.
Today’s advanced fitness trackers can monitor even more. They can track your heartrate to determine when you ate, for example. Your heartrate slightly rises after a meal, and fitness trackers can use this rise to determine approximately how many calories you consumed.
Some of the sensors available on a modern fitness tracker include:
How is it possible to sell a high-end fitness tracker for just $20 to $30? Some of the top-rated fitness trackers above are priced under $30 – yet track all of the same metrics as higher-end fitness trackers. The secret is in the way it measures data.
High-end fitness trackers track heartrate automatically anytime you’re wearing the device: a sensor on the base of the watch checks your pulse, giving you real-time updates on your heartrate. With lower-end fitness trackers, there’s no such sensor; instead, you place your finger on the device to record heartrate on-demand. You don’t get constant heartrate monitoring, which could be a dealbreaker.
In the early days, fitness trackers weren’t designed to be worn while swimming or in the shower. Today, even the cheapest fitness trackers have at least IP67 water-resistance, which means they survive submerged in up to 1 meter of water. Other devices have IP68 waterproofing, which provides further protection, or even 5ATM waterproofing, which is strong enough for divers to wear.
Display type also varies between fitness trackers. Some fitness trackers have small and basic displays. Others have large color touchscreens. With cheaper fitness trackers, you get a basic display – which may or may not be an issue.
Most modern fitness trackers rely on Bluetooth to connect to your phone. By pairing it to your phone, the fitness tracker can display smartphone notifications. Some even support calls: you can tap the smartwatch to answer a call, then talk into your wrist to speak to the caller.
Algorithms matter with wearable devices. Fitbit, Garmin, and other wearable device companies all have their own algorithms. These algorithms categorize movements. They run complex calculations to determine whether you’re driving slowly down a road – or hopping on your bike to cycle. Companies describe their algorithms as the ‘secret sauce’. Using age, gender, height, weight, and other characteristics, these private algorithms maximize the usefulness of a fitness tracker.
FAQs About Fitness Trackers
Q: What is a fitness tracker?
A: A fitness tracker is a wearable device that measures heartrate, activity, distance traveled, calories burned, and other metrics.
Q: How do fitness trackers work?
A: Fitness trackers have on-board sensors or rely on your phone’s sensors to get data about the wearer.
Q: Can a fitness tracker help with weight loss?
A: A good fitness tracker tracks calories consumed and calories burned, which can certainly help you lose weight.
Q: How long does a fitness tracker last?
A: A cheap fitness tracker may need to be recharged daily, although higher-end fitness trackers can easily last 7 to 10 days per charge.
Q: Do I need to connect my phone to my fitness tracker?
A: Most fitness trackers work without a phone, although they become more useful when paired with a phone. A fitness tracker can use your phone’s sensors, for example, and display phone notifications. Most good fitness trackers store 7 days of data onboard without needing to sync with a phone.
Q: Do I need to use a special app with my fitness tracker?
A: Some fitness trackers have their own apps for iOS or Android, although most fitness trackers also pair with popular fitness apps. Some don’t require apps at all.
Q: How do I charge my fitness tracker?
A: You charge most fitness trackers via USB or micro-USB – just like you would charge a phone, tablet, and most other electronic devices. Some fitness trackers have proprietary charging systems, but most trackers use micro-USB.
Q: Is my smartwatch waterproof?
A: Most fitness trackers and smartwatches are at least IP67 or IP68 water resistant, which means they can survive submersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Some fitness trackers are 5ATM waterproof, which means they survive up to 50 meters underwater with no damage.
Q: Do fitness trackers measure heart rate 24 hours a day?
A: Some fitness trackers have 24 hour heartrate monitoring, while others only track heartrate on demand (i.e. you press your finger on the device to track your heart rate whenever you like).
Q: How does a fitness tracker automatically detect sports and activities?
A: Fitness trackers use complex algorithms to analyze your movement and identify patterns. Based on these patterns, the fitness tracker decides if you’re playing tennis, cycling, doing yoga, or engaged in other activities.
Q: What sports can I track with my fitness tracker?
A: Most fitness trackers now track 10 to 15 sports, including cycling, running, and swimming. Some fitness trackers even track other activities, including dancing and yoga.
Q: Can fitness trackers track weightlifting?
A: Some fitness trackers measure weightlifting and strength training. A fitness tracker worn on your wrist, for example, can track the number of repetitions and sets you perform. Just input your weights, then track strength training via your fitness tracker.
Q: Can I swim with my fitness tracker?
A: Most fitness trackers are water-resistant or waterproof, which means you should be able to safely swim with them on your wrist. Some fitness trackers even have special swim tracking features.
Q: What’s the difference between a cheap and expensive fitness tracker?
A: Cheap fitness trackers have poor build quality, bad sensors, and shoddy algorithms. Good fitness trackers are higher-end devices with durable designs, multi-sport tracking, longer ranges, and longer battery life, among other features.
A: Most fitness trackers do not sell your data or use it for marketing. However, check the terms and conditions to make sure your fitness tracker is playing by the rules. Some fitness trackers have online cloud storage systems that could be hacked. Other fitness trackers only store data locally (on the device or on your own phone) without ever sharing it online.
Q: Do fitness trackers cause cancer?
A: Some people claim that fitness trackers and other wireless devices cause cancer. There’s no evidence that a fitness tracker, smartphone, wireless router, or other electronic device increases the risk of cancer.
Q: What’s the best fitness tracker?
A: Some of the highest rated fitness trackers available today include fitness trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, and Wyze. However, there are also plenty of good fitness trackers from lesser-known companies for under $50.
Q: How much should I spend on a fitness tracker?
A: Higher-end fitness trackers are priced anywhere from $100 to $400. Today, fitness trackers are cheaper than ever, and you can find decent smartwatches from reputable companies for $30 to $70.
Q: Do fitness trackers work on treadmills?
A: Yes, fitness trackers generally work on treadmills, although their accuracy varies. Fitness trackers use accelerometers to measure movement, which means it will see you bouncing up and down on the treadmill – although it may not accurately record distance. As fitness tracker algorithms have got smarter, they’re becoming better at measuring treadmill exercise.
Q: Where to buy a fitness tracker?
A: Amazon, Best Buy, and other major retailers sell fitness trackers at low prices.
Q: Is there any scientific evidence that fitness trackers help with weight loss?
A: In one recent study, researchers sought to measure the effect activity trackers had on weight loss. Researchers found that fitness trackers were useful tools for getting you to move more, although it’s still up to the individual to track exercise and calorie intake to ensure effective weight loss results. Some individuals are motivated by fitness trackers, while others are less motivated. In the study, researchers tracked two groups of people going through a weight loss routine for two years. After two years, both groups lost weight, although the group that used a fitness tracker lost 2 to 3% more weight.
Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes. Today’s top fitness trackers make it easy to track weight loss and calorie burning. But they also do so much more than that: they can track your VO2 max and other advanced metrics. They can survive 50 meters underwater. They can activate Amazon Alexa and answer phone calls.
Looking for a fitness tracker? Consider one of the best fitness trackers above and get help achieving your fitness goals.