Some people refer to them as smart bracelets because today’s fitness trackers look as good as traditional jewelry pieces. Fitness trackers can help you achieve what you want when you are into an exercise regimen to stay fit or lose weight.
A fitness tracker is not like a smartwatch. A smartwatch is a computer worn in your wrist like a watch. Some smartwatches have a touchscreen interface. On the other hand, a fitness tracker has specific functions designed to track your daily physical activities.
What is a Fitness Tracker?
A fitness tracker has functions that are more focused than a smartwatch. Similar to a smartwatch, it is also a wearable device similar to a watch.
In short, a fitness tracker is a wrist-worn device designed to track your running distance, walking steps, swimming laps, sleep patterns, and heart rate. This device is synced with an app in your mobile device so you can download your activity data.
In the past few years, fitness trackers have increasingly become popular. This wrist-worn device has evolved through the years from being glamorized pedometers (an electronic and portable device that measures each of your steps by detecting the movement of your hands or hip) to have more functions.
Most fitness trackers claim they are a big help in your overall health and also if you are into a weight loss program.
How does Fitness Tracker Work?
Despite the popularity of fitness trackers, many people are still wondering how fitness tracker works?
Fitness trackers use many tools to gather data to track your movements and body. The fitness tracker uses algorithms to interpret the gathered data. The data-gathering technology and algorithms vary depending on the model and manufacturer of the fitness tracker. This means that different trackers may give you different interpretations of numbers.
Here are some of the features you may find in different fitness trackers:
- 3-axis accelerometer. This toolistasked to measure movements in every direction. Some are equipped with a gyroscope that measures orientation and rotation.
- Altimeter. This tool measures altitude, so the device measures the mountains’ height when you are hiking or the number of stairs you climb in one day.
- Sensors. They are used to measure variables such as intensity, acceleration, frequency, patterns, and duration of your movements.
- Algorithm. This is what interprets data gathered by sensors of the fitness tracker and translates them into meaningful statistics and measurements of your movements.
While features vary per model or manufacturer, one thing remains constant – all fitness trackers measure motion.
How a Fitness Tracker Counts Steps
A 3-axis accelerometer of a fitness tracker senses your body movements and measures how fast your body changes its direction or speed. When a fitness tracker is powered up and worn, it can determine whether you are standing still, running fast, or walking forward. It also counts the number of steps you take and the movements you make up and down or from side to side.
These data are stored in the fitness trackers. Data in the fitness tracker is transferred to the software on your laptop or smartphone with which it is synced.
You will need to share some of your details with the software, so collected data can be processed through a personalized algorithm. This allows the software to detect different movements.
Your different movements are categorized into different activities, and the fitness tracker app will record data under different headings.
How a Fitness Tracker Counts Burned Calories
Calories in your body are burned through digestion, physical activity, and other basic body functions. Your fitness tracker calculates burned calories from your physical activities and records them in your device. This feature is useful when you are trying to lose weight.
The number of calories you burn is based on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Your BMR is the number of calories you need for the effective function of your body rest. It is also known as the metabolism of your body. Your BMR is based on your age, height, weight, and sex. It is one-half of the calories your body burns in a day.
Your fitness tracker has a sensor such as an accelerometer. This sensor tracks your movements. An algorithm will then give you a total of your burned calories based on your energy expenditure.
Some fitness trackers keep track of your calories by using your heart rate to determine how many calories you burn for a day. Some are equipped with an app that records the number of calories you consume against the number of calories you burned.
Your fitness tracker’s calorie count resets every midnight and starts counting burned calories for the new day. Even when you are sleeping, you burn calories, so it is not a surprise when burned calories register in your fitness tracker the moment you wake up.
How a Fitness Tracker Monitors your Heart Rate
Many fitness trackers that can monitor your heart rate. These devices use sensors to measure your pulse. The sensor shines a light into your wrist’s blood vessel, allowing it to detect changes in your blood volume. Each time your heart beats, it pushes blood through your body and changes your blood volume.
The fitness tracker has a LED light that shines into your blood vessels each time it detects changes in your blood volume or how fast your blood is pumping or your heart rate. Your heart rate is presented in the fitness tracker as your beats per minute.
The fitness tracker is somewhat accurate at monitoring your heart rate. However, you need to be still for your heart rate readings to be as accurate as possible. You should not be moving, talking, or sweating when taking your heart rate.
How a Fitness Tracker Monitors your Sleep
Many fitness trackers can monitor how well you sleep. They can detect motion when lying down to determine when you are awake, sleeping lightly, or in a deep sleep. They can also monitor your sleep patterns.
Most fitness trackers are equipped with accelerometers to track your sleep. When the accelerometer records minimal or no movement, it interprets that you are asleep.
How a Fitness Trackers Measures Swimming
Fitness trackers measure swimming in the same manner; it measures walking, hiking, or running. This means they measure movement and the rate of movement as well. A waterproof fitness tracker measures the type of stroke, as well as the rate and distance.
Other Movements Fitness Trackers Can Measure
Some fitness trackers are equipped with different kinds of sensors to track your other movements. Your fitness tracker may have a gyroscope spinning in different directions around a fixed axis to determine whether you are lying down, standing, or sitting.
Your fitness tracker may also be equipped with a barometer. This tool is used to measure atmospheric pressure and can measure how many flights of stairs you climb.
Your device may also have a small Global Positioning System (GPS) to record your route on a long bike ride or run.
How a Fitness Tracker Works with your Smartphone
Most fitness trackers can be synced with a smartphone app. The fitness trackers communicate data stored on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Your fitness tracker needs to be compatible with the device you wish to sync it with.
Most fitness trackers can be easily synced with Android phones and iPhones. These apps track your activities and sleep. Your fitness tracker will have apps where you can access stored data from your tracker.
You can also sync your fitness tracker and smartphone to allow your tracker to alert you when you receive messages, email, social media posts, and incoming calls on your smartphone.
Some trackers can also send you a “move alert,” when, for example, you have been sitting for a long time. Your tracker can also send you a congratulatory message when you hit the day’s activity goal.
There are also fitness trackers that allow you to share your activity report for the day online and even share your health information with your doctor.
How Accurate Are Fitness Trackers?
Fitness trackers are getting more and more powerful and complicated every year. Major fitness tracker manufacturers are always adding new features to keep track of your every movement. Are these wrist-worn devices accurate?
To determine the accuracy of a fitness tracker is to know the difference between the measuring activities. Most fitness trackers count steps through a 3-axis accelerometer, a small tool that senses acceleration. Altimeters track attitude, and Gyroscopes tracks your orientation.
Different fitness trackers use different algorithms to keep track of all your data. Thus, there will be no two fitness trackers that will have the same results.
Are Fitness Trackers worth it?
Since the first fitness tracker’s introduction in 2009, many people have been crazy about fitness trackers. It seems almost everyone has this little device on their wrists, and they love them.
Most of these fitness trackers come at a steep price. With this price range, many people who have yet to buy their first fitness tracker wonder: can they help you, or is there a right one for me? In short, are these devices worth the money?
The many functions of the best fitness trackers can help motivate you to stick and manage your fitness plan well. Fitness trackers are a great motivational tool. They can urge you to keep on going to meet your fitness goals because the device can show your real-time progress.
With a fitness tracker continuously on your wrist, it is a constant reminder to commit to your fitness plan. A fitness tracker can be a considerable investment, especially when choosing to get one with a wide range of functions.
You can use the data recorded in the fitness tracker to dedicate yourself to a lifestyle change like avoiding junk food or doing a lot more walking, especially after a heavy meal.
When deciding on what fitness tracker to pick, choose one that includes the functions you need, ease in use, and battery life. The process can be daunting because the more functions a fitness tracker has, the pricier it becomes.
So, are fitness trackers worth it? Yes, they are if you make them worth it!
Fitness Trackers – Pro’s and Con’s
Before taking the plunge on purchasing a fitness tracker, take a look at some of these devices’ pros and cons.
Advantages of a Fitness Tracker
Helps you Figure out your Overall Health
A fitness tracker helps you determine if you are making enough steps daily to be healthy. The fitness tracker will also tell you if you are sleeping well and if you are getting enough sleep. Some fitness trackers can also measure your heart rate while at rest.
If you do not like the numbers you are seeing, the fitness tracker can help you take the necessary steps to improve them. The tracker will then show you the changes in numbers over time to know which fitness strategies work or do not work for you.
Gives you a Picture of your Activity Level
It is highly critical that you know your body and what it is telling you. A fitness tracker gives you a reality check of your activity level to adjust your habits based on actual data. This will increase your awareness of your overall health.
Helps set your Fitness Goals
If you want to be active and healthy, you will need a specific plan for a healthy lifestyle. A fitness goal accompanied by strategies to achieve it will give you the best results for a weight loss program or training for a sports event.
Goals help keep you focused, and the data in your fitness tracker will motivate you to achieve your fitness goals.
Helps Track your Progress
A fitness tracker provides data to track your progress because it automatically registers figures and facts. It allows you to track daily and even monthly achievements to measure your performance against your goals.
Let’s you know when to Move More.
Many fitness trackers have an alarm to remind you if you have been sitting for so long. Sedentary behavior, or what you do while sitting, are activities that fall into the category of low energy expenditure.
Sedentary behavior, which is distinct from your physical activity, often negatively affects your cardio-metabolic health. In short, you can work for 2 hours in the gym and still have a critical level of sedentary behavior.
Too much sitting brings harmful effects to your body. A fitness tracker can tell you when to move and take a short walk after too much sitting. It is a small thing, but it is crucial for your overall wellbeing.
Helps you Eat Healthily
An active lifestyle is not all there is to be healthy and happy. Having a healthy diet is as essential as having an active lifestyle.
A fitness tracker can monitor your food and water intake. It can also calculate the quality of your diet plan so you can make healthy food choices.
Gives you the Motivation to Keep Going
A fitness tracker provides you with visual progress of your exercise regimen. It shows how many calories you have burned and how many steps you took in a day.
Ten thousand steps a day are the recommended number of steps you need to have an active lifestyle. Your fitness tracker will motivate you to keep on going because you can see how you are doing so far in black and white.
Most fitness tracker users tend to be more excited about hitting the target 10,000 steps per day rather than keeping in mind the health reasons for doing so.
This is what fitness trackers are designed for- they encourage or motivate you to keep going by cheering you when you have achieved your goal and motivate you when you need to do more.
Drawbacks of a Fitness Tracker
Many users say that fitness trackers are good at counting steps but are inaccurate in measuring other activities. There are fitness trackers that underestimate the numbers when you are going too fast or too slow.
Leads you to Focus too Much on Numbers
More often, fitness trackers make you focus more on your numbers rather than on how your exercise routine makes you feel. You will tend to rely more on the numbers on the device to determine if you are healthy instead of listening to your body.
Fitness trackers can be costly. There are fitness trackers that cost less, but most of them are not reliable, so it ends up as a waste of money. The more features a fitness tracker has, the more expensive it becomes.
Fitness trackers are one of the top fitness trends today. They can work well if they are suitable for you and meet your fitness needs. Therefore, it is essential to choose a fitness tracker with features that you need to stay healthy and fit.
How to Choose the Right Fitness Tracker
The market is flooded with fitness trackers. There are the basic ones with the least features that cost less, and some are loaded with features and broad parameters and are expensive.
In choosing the right fitness tracker, it is essential to consider what you need the fitness tracker for. With that in mind, you can decide which features are essential and unnecessary to you. Have clear goals and choose the right fitness tracker based on them.
How much are you willing to spend on a fitness tracker? There are many fitness trackers to choose from. The latest generation of fitness trackers is reasonably priced. The prices of the older generations are going down, although they have lesser features. If you shop around well, you may find one you need that is within your budget.
Most fitness trackers can measure steps, calories, distance, and activities. They also come with an alarm to notify you when you are sedentary for some time. Most brands come with these basic features if your activity is centered mainly on walking, running, or hiking.
Fitness trackers vary in terms of the information they can provide, from simply counting steps to providing the information on your various stages of sleep patterns. Besides the basics, some fitness trackers also monitor your body temperature, heart rate, UV exposure, blood oxygen levels, etc.
Have a list of the things you need a fitness tracker to measure and choose the brand and model that suits your needs.
Fitness trackers are like pieces of jewelry. They come as part of your outfit because you wear them every day. They are available in different shapes, sizes, and styles. Manufacturers have made it a point to design fitness trackers that are functional and attractive.
Designs of fitness trackers are categorized as the sporty band-type, similar in design to a smartwatch, and similar designs to analog watches or jewelry pieces. Whatever design you choose for your fitness tracker, make sure you are comfortable wearing it.
Choose a fitness tracker that offers a seamless experience. It should be easy to use and sync with your smartphone or computer. Some fitness trackers have touch screens, while others turn on when tapping on the device.
The fitness tracker you eventually will pick should provide data that is easy to read and understand.
Do you prefer black and white, colored, or no display? Remember that the more sophisticated displays drain the battery faster. Some people prefer not to have a display, so they do not have to keep on looking at the fitness tracker and get distracted. Without a display on the fitness tracker, you will have to rely on your web interface or smartphone to check on your numbers.
Fitness trackers equipped with built-in GPS demand higher costs. GPS is a great feature, but only if you need it. If you do not need it but want to enjoy the feature, you can pair the fitness tracker with your smartphone to access GPS information.
Most trackers have rechargeable batteries with a 2-day lifespan; some have a day; some with batteries can last an average of five to seven days. Fitness trackers with disposable watch batteries have a longer life but need to be replaced every year.
Rechargeable batteries use standard USB ports. Charging time for a full charge varies between models and brands.
Most users prefer water-resistant fitness trackers.
Best Fitness Trackers 2020
It can be a bit daunting to choose the best fitness tracker to suit your requirements. Here is a compilation of the best fitness trackers for 2020.
1. Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker: Best Overall Fitness Tracker
Fitbit has always been known for making excellent fitness trackers. The Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker is equipped with everything the company knows about fitness bands’ form factors. The Fitbit Charge 4 is the most refined and polished device ever released by Fitbit.
Fitbit fitness trackers remain the best despite many manufacturers trying to edge it out or come close. Fitbit fitness trackers are attractive, comfortable, and affordable. They come with an easy-to-use app. The Fitbit Charge 4 is the best with features including a built-in GPS to map your walks, bike rides, and runs without bringing out your smartphone.
It also comes with some intelligent upgrades such as the Zone Minutes metric for high-intensity exercise and an “outdoor workout” tool for golf games and intense hiking. It is also equipped with the best sleep tracking software and hardware.
Access to some of the Fitbit Charge 4’s best features requires an annual premium subscription.
- Built-in GPS
- Steps, sleep, swim, and heart rate tracking
- Body Oxygen tracking
- Workout tracking
- VO2 Max tracking
- Receives notifications from phone
- 7-day battery life
- Spotify controller
- Fitbit Pay
- Comfortable to wear
- Excellent app
- Decent heart-rate tracking
- Great for multiple sports
- Includes S&L Bands
- Slightly irritating capacitive button
- Lacking in the color display screen
The Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker has everything you may need in a fitness monitor at a remarkable value. Albeit small, it is loaded with features.
2.Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch: Best Hybrid Fitness Tracker/Smartwatch
The Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch perfectly combines a smartwatch and a fitness tracker. With this device, you can check calls, texts, and notifications while viewing the heart rate monitor as you are walking or jogging.
You can do almost everything with the Fitbit Versa 2, including tracking steps, floors climbed, distance, and calories. Additional features include sleep tracking, on-screen workout, guided breathing sessions, and a 24/7 heart rate tracking. Ladies can even track their menstrual cycle.
The Versa 2 is a great wearable choice if you want to take advantage of a Fitbit Premium subscription. You will get to enjoy health insights, sleep score details, guided programs, and Fitbit Coach.
- Includes 15 exercise modes like running, biking, swimming, and yoga
- Auto sleep monitoring
- Customizable watch faces
- Swim tracking
- Amazon Alexa smart assistant
- Round-the-clock activity tracking
- 5-7 days battery life
- S/L bands included
- Fitbit Pay
- Closely resembles a classic smartwatch
- Sturdy fitness tracking
- Includes useful apps
- Lots of fitness features
- Includes a microphone for Amazon Alexa
- Compact and lightweight
- Amazon Alexa
- No built-in GPS
- Screen not as bright
- Alexa responds only through text
- Bulky charging cables
- Difficult to change bands
The Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch focuses on fitness and health tracking, making it ideal for workout enthusiasts. It includes all the features loved in the original smartwatch plus a continuously-on AMOLED display.
The all-new Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Smart Wristband comes with a large 1.2-inch screen yet retains a budget brand’s usual feel. This latest offering from Xiaomi comes with a bargain price tag as compared to its predecessors.
It is equipped with 11 sports modes and connects to the GPS on your smartphone. It features a 24/7 heart rate monitor and stress monitoring. It monitors and keeps track of your activities through the Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) score. The PAI score counts everything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping instead of steps and exercise.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Smart Wristband tracks sleep better than before. It is a basic tracker that doubles for smartwatch notifications.
- Step tracking
- Heart rate tracking
- Swim tracking
- 11 sports tracking
- Sleep tracking with Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
- Remote Camera Bluetooth 5.0 Global Version
- Notification support
- Miband with Magnetic Charging
- 1.1- inch Color Screen
- Music controls
- Android and iOS support
- 11 sports mode
- Activity and sleep tracking
- Heart rate monitoring
- Female health tracking
- 14-day battery life
- Highly affordable
- No built-in GPS
- No automatic workout tracking
- No NFC payments
The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Smart Wristband is not too hard on your pocket. It is highly affordable, yet it is packed with a lot of features.
4.Garmin vívosmart 4 Activity and Fitness Tracker: Best Health Tracking Suite
The Garmin vívosmart 4 Activity and Fitness Tracker keeps track of your steps, calories burned, sleep, floors climbed, heart rate, and other various exercises. It is best known for its health-tracking functions.
This fitness tracker is every health buff’s dream come true. It provides more health monitoring features than most fitness trackers within the same price range. It has a Pulse Ox to monitor saturation levels of your blood oxygen. It also comes with a heart rate monitor.
The Garmin vívosmart 4 comes with an all-day stress tracking function complemented by a relaxation breathing timer. It is also able to maximize your every day activities by monitoring your energy levels.
The Garmin vívosmart 4 includes smartphone notifications and allows Android users to respond with default replies quickly. The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is the best fitness tracker that can provide you with detailed health tracking data.
- Steep tracking
- Heart rate monitor
- Resting heart rate monitoring
- VO2 Max
- Heart rate tracking for stress scores
- Auto exercise detection
- Rep counting for the exercise regimen
- Compatible with Android and iOS devices
- Built-in heart rate monitor
- Superior health tracking
- All-day stress monitoring
- Useful Body Battery Energy Monitor
- 7-day battery life
- Can be challenging to navigate because of its small screen
- Does not include a built-in GPS
- No interchangeable bands
The Garmin vívosmart 4 Activity and Fitness Tracker is the best Garmin product in its health band line. It is a great fitness tracker for those who want to recover their general wellbeing as they exercise.
5.Fitbit Inspire HR Heart Rate and Fitness Tracker: Best Heart-Rate Monitor
The compact and lightweight Fitbit Inspire HR Heart Rate and Fitness Tracker offer a heart rate monitor and a range of fitness tracking functions. It comes with a more comfortable and slimmer design than most fitness trackers, so it is as though there is nothing on your wrist.
The Fitbit Inspire HR comes in a buckle band instead of the current peg-and-loop style trend in fitness trackers. It is easy to switch bands, too.
This device comes with a single button that you need to swipe to view your stats and return to the home screen and swipe down as you start to exercise. The app of this fitness tracker allows you to use its GPS and set alarms.
It may not be as versatile as the Fitbit Charge 3, but you will be able to access Fitbit’s top-end services for its price range. It includes step tracking, sleep monitoring, including sleep stages (awake, light, deep, and REM analysis of your sleep), and auto workout tracking.
Other than the advanced sleep metrics, the Fitbit Inspire HR comes with a 24/7 monitor of your resting heart rate and a guided breathing function.
The Fitbit Inspire HR has all the features of a Fitbit fitness tracker accessed through a touchscreen display with 5-day battery life.
- Step tracking
- Heart rate monitor
- Sleep tracking
- Swim tracking
- Notification support
- Connects to the GPS of your smartphone
- Auto exercise detection
- Compatible with Android and iOS devices
- Appealing design
- Numerous tracked metrics
- Compact and lightweight
- Long battery life
- Does not offer quick responses
- No built-in GPS and altimeter
- No Fitbit Pay
The Fitbit Inspire HR is the best Fitbit device you can get on a budget. It is one of the best lines of fitness trackers from Fitbit, as well. This device lives up to the saying that good things can come in small packages. It is a slimmed-down version of most of Fitbit’s fitness trackers and is an affordable buy if you want to track your steps, sleep, and heart rate.
Whether you are shopping around for your first fitness tracker or looking at upgrading your current device, it always pays to do some research before choosing.
Fitness trackers used to be just glamorized pedometers. Today, these smart devices have advanced functions that can track numerous metrics for almost all daily activities and sports. This means you need to meticulously study your options and pick the fitness tracker that fits your lifestyle and can help achieve your health and fitness goals.