If the new year means you’re trying to kickstart a healthier lifestyle, then getting a fitness tracker is an ideal first step.
Whether you’re a beginner and just the thought of running brings you out in a sweat, or if you’re a keen gym-goer and want to get a more detailed view of the sort exercise you’re doing – a fitness tracker is the perfect accompaniment.
Just strap it to your wrist, and the band will keep track of your steps, calories burned, distance travelled and a whole lot more.
There’s a fitness tracker for you, whatever your budget. It’s worth noting though that there’s quite a bit of crossover between fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Fitness trackers, on the whole, tend to have a much longer battery life, but if you want more than just fitness features from what’s on your wrist, then a smartwatch may be something worth considering.
If you’re just in the market for something to help you lose that Christmas paunch however, then there’s plenty of fitness trackers to choose from.
There’s everything from stylish and small single-purpose fitness trackers that cost as little as £50, all the way up to chunky devices that run into the hundreds of pounds and track everything from marathons to your altitude when skiing.
Whatever it is you’re doing, you’ll find a device here that fits your budget. In each case you’ll find the key specifications for each device – so you’ll know exactly what the fitness tracker is like – and a link to the relevant product on Amazon so you can start your new fitness regime without burning up any precious calories.
But how do you pick the right fitness tracker for you? With so much choice it can be slightly overwhelming. With that in mind though, below are some of the features to look out for when picking the right device.
Best Fitness Trackers for 2017: Which Design Is Best?
Most trackers you’ll find are worn around your wrist like a watch, but there are also some that clip onto your clothing and can be more comfortable to wear. Some trackers can also be clipped onto a shirt or trouser pocket, or be attached to a bag or item of clothing if you prefer.
Best Fitness Trackers for 2017: Do I Need A Waterproof Device?
In a huge leap forward for fitness trackers, some of them can now be taken into the pool and report on your swimming sessions. With some higher end products able to track lengths in the pool, record duration and measure calories burned. Fitbit has also joined the waterproof party with the Fitbit Flex 2, their first waterproof tracker, albeit with simplified swimming metrics. Of course, check the box before jumping straight into a pool!
Best Fitness Trackers for 2017: Do I Need Heart Rate Tracking?
It’s now commonplace to have a heart rate monitor on most fitness trackers. The upgraded technology means it’s possible to train in heart rate zones, which means your is training more efficient and effective (that’s what they tell us anyway!) and provide a big boost in accuracy when it comes to how many calories you’ve burned per day.
The type of heart rate tracking between devices varies wildly however. The Fitbit Flex, for example, tracks your heart rate 24/7 and makes a note of your resting heart rate when you wake up – which is a useful metric for monitoring your overall health.
More high-end models can also include estimates of your VO2 Max too, so you can quantify the improvements in your fitness over time.
Best Fitness Trackers for 2017: How Much Data Do I Actually Need?
There are two main areas of focus for most trackers: steps taken and sleeping. It’s difficult however to assess the relative accuracy of each tracker as these bands record your movement during the day, work out how far you’re walking, and also attempt to analyse how well you’re sleeping.
When all’s said and done, the technology in today’s trackers is good, and more than enough to help sustain or inspire a more healthy lifestyle – but it should be noted that it’s far from perfect. If you’re completely serious about going all-in on your exercise regime, then it’s a good investment to splurge on a pricier fitness tracker equipped with GPS tracking. But it’s often best to regard step-tracking models (the devices without GPS) as motivational aids rather than 100% accurate monitors.
Best Fitness Trackers for 2017: App Support?
The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. The mobile app that comes with your tracker really is a vital part of the kit, letting you crunch through your data, set goals, challenge your friends and so forth.
First and foremost, it’s worth checking that your tracker works with your mobile phone of choice – most now support both Android and iOS though.
Click Over To PAGE 2 For Our Pick of The Best Fitness Trackers You Can Buy RIGHT NOW…
Fitbit Charge HR: The Best For First-Timers Price When Reviewed: £95
Fitbit’s Charge HR is the fitness tracker for those who want a little bit more from their band. There’s a neat heart-rate sensor to measure how hard you’re exercising and it also comes with an Altimeter, so it can account for climbing stairs or running up hills – if you’re feeling extra fit!
Its small OLED screen is easy to read and provides feedback throughout the day, whilst it’s range of colours – Black, Plum, Blue, Tangerine and Teal – means there should be something for everyone.
It also takes a step into smartwatch territory, showing you the time and also providing call display notifications from your smartphone. Now this isn’t a smartwatch so don’t expect much more than that, though it will vibrate to alert you of calls and texts if you prefer, rather than having your phone ring.
It’s compatible with your PC or pretty much any smartphone and supports pretty much every major fitness app if you want to use a preferred application, such as Strava or Runkeeper.
Key specs: Size: Comes in three sizes (Small: up to 160mm wrist; Large: up to 190mm; X-Large: up to 210mm); Features: Steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, stairs climbed, and active minutes; Battery: 1 Lithium-polymer included
Fitbit Charge HR Best Prices Online:
Moov Now: The Best For Gym-Goers
Price When Reviewed: £49
We know the Moov Now isn’t the best-looking fitness tracker out there, but it really is a great entry-level piece of tech that’s got plenty going for it, despite the low price.
It’s designed to be worn on either your wrist or on your ankle, with two straps supplied. It’s also among the most comprehensive trackers out there, too.
You can track walking, running and cycling – and is also completely waterproof for swimming. A nine-axis Omni Motion sensor inside the band tracks everything from movement to actual reps during workouts, which is handy for those of you using it at the gym.
There are also 12 guided workouts and a voice coach, which is designed to help you reach your goals – and then surpass them. As the Moov Now uses a coin cell battery, it’s also worth noting that you can get six months battery life – to cut out the hassle of regular charging.
The smart use of data and the useful feedback on your progress from the accompanying app adds a level of detail seldom seen in rivals, making it a top contender in its space.
Key specs: Size: Comes in two sizes (Small: up to 220mm; Large: up to 320mm) Features: Steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, stairs climbed, active minutes, sleep; also talks you through your workout with real-time audio coaching for running, cycling, cardio boxing and body weight; Battery: Coin Battery (CR2032) installed
Moov Now Best Prices Online
Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Multisport Watch: The Best For Adrenaline Junkies Price When Reviewed: £275
The Garmin Fenix 3 is a serious GPS watch for serious fitness fanatics. It has built-in GPS with GLONASS and tracks 13 activities in total, including Cross-country Ski, Trail Runs, Indoor Bike and plenty more.
It has a heavy-duty strap that’s perfect for hurling down a mountain and comes with exceptionally long battery life. Garmin insist you’ll get 20 hours out of one charge, so it’s not like many smartwatches that require charging daily.
Unfortunately there’s no touchscreen, but the simple interface and easy to use buttons make this a bit of a non-issue. A major flaw we found though was the accuracy of the GPS.
It had a habit of telling us we were ‘off course’ when we were definitely on course during a walk – and was, in some cases, out by as much as 20m.
That wasn’t necessarily an issue for us, but if you’re a serious hiker that requires absolute accuracy in the GPS, then it’s something to consider.
Key specs: Size: Up to 300mm wrist; Features: Running: tracks speed, distance, time; Swimming: distance, pace, stroke count, stroke rate; Cycling: speed, cadence, heart rate; Skiing: speed, distance, vertical drop; Waterproof: Up to 10m; Battery: Rechargeable 300mAh lithium-ion included
Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Multisport Watch Best Prices Online
- Best Price UK – Chain Reaction Cycles £317.99 (Reduced From £479.99)
- Best Price US – Best Buy $599.99
Withings Activite: The Best For The Fashionistas Price When Reviewed: £79
This is probably the best-looking fitness tracker on the market right now. The Withings Activite is definitely a wearable piece of tech that’s designed to be as fashion-forward as a classic watch.
It combines the old school look and design of a watch and cutting-edge sensor technology to a great effect. It has a stainless steel face, a tough sapphire crystal glass face and a removable battery that can last up to eight months.
It tracks steps, runs, sleep and is waterproof up to 50m, so you’re free to go swimming with it on as well. And although there’s no digital screen of flashing LEDs here, a secondary dial on the Activite’s face shows how close you are to completing your daily goals.
The watch works alongside the Withings Healthmate app, which is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It does lack the proactive feedback you get from other trackers on this list – for example, it’ll congratulate you when you complete a goal but won’t nudge you when you’re getting close.
However, it is definitely user friendly and easy to understand. One big issue we had however was the build quality. Compared to the likes of the Garmin above, this scratched very easily and after some time testing the strap was coming away slightly from the watch itself.
You can buy replacements from Withings, so it wasn’t the end of the world, but don’t expect to take this tracker up the Himalayas with you.
Key specs: Size: Up to 195 mm; Features: Steps, distance, calories burned, monitors sleep; Waterproof: Up to 5m; Battery: CR2025 button cell battery included
Withings Activite Best Prices Online
Garmin Vivosmart HR+: The Best All-Rounder Price When Reviewed: £170
The Garmin Vivosmart HR is certainly on the expensive side but is definitely one of our current favourite fitness tracker – mainly because it does so much.
It has the usual pedometer for measuring steps but also includes a heart-rate monitor to track more vigorous exercise and a barometer to track altitude changes as well. The HR+ even includes built-in GPS, so you can enjoy the feeling of a phone-free run.
Many fitness bands will identify incoming calls on your phones, but the Vivosmart will also display text messages and any notifications that appear on your phone from apps. And as a handy little extra, you can even control music playback from it as well.
The Garmin app and website are really intuitive and user-friendly, and go into great detail especially if you take your exercise a little more seriously.
The only niggle we had was that our version had some difficulty tracking flights of stairs, and there’s also no way of telling how much battery you have left until a message warns you there’s only 10% left. Other than that though, the Garmin is a fantastic, all-round piece of kit.
Key specs: Size: Regular (fits up to 192mm wrist size); Feature check: Steps, sleep monitoring, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, GPS; Battery: 1 Lithium Polymer included