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When it comes to technology, more features don’t automatically make a better product. Especially now, as more and more companies come out with stylish, feature-rich trackers available at various price points, it’s time to consider what you really need from a fitness tracker.
Do you want to flaunt a cool look with surface level data? Spend hours analyzing your breathing patterns for peak performance? Show your sleep charts to a doctor? Get period reminders because you always keep forgetting your date? Whatever you need, today’s fitness wearables have got your back.
But with all these features and not-all-that-much money, it can be hard to decide which features are must-haves and which you can let go of. Worry not! We’re here to help! We saved you the hard work and rounded up a list of the best fitness trackers for every type of person.
What to Look for in a Fitness Tracker
What you really need from a fitness tracker depends on how you plan to use it. Today, a simple strap on your wrist can do anything from measuring stress to offering live feedback during meditation. But unless you have thousands of dollars and several hours in the day to tinker with all these bells and whistles, it’s probably a good idea to only invest in features you’ll actually use. Here are some of the popular ones to consider.
Fitness tracking: Fitness tracking functionalities vary widely depending on which wearable you use. From simple step counting to measuring the oxygen levels in your blood during workouts, there’s a wide range of fitness features you can experiment with. But unless you’re a professional athlete or someone who loves geeking out on charts, you probably don’t need all the features you can’t even pronounce. If you’re a beginner, we recommend going for step counting, activity/workout tracking, and heart rate monitoring – you know the basics. Intermediate and advanced fitness folks can nerd out with all the SpO2s and HRVs.
In-app features: Some fitness trackers offer additional features in the app but some of them don’t even have a display. That means every feature is accessible only through the app, so it helps to check out just what tools the app lets you play with. Many fitness wearables offer guided workouts and meditations with an app subscription fee but if the money is tight, you can always turn to YouTube. We do recommend paying attention to the app UI though. If you’re spending a few hundred dollars on a fitness tracker and end up with an app that constantly crashes, that’ll make your stress score go up.
Battery life: How fast your trackers battery depletes obviously depends on your usage patterns but looking for a longer-lasting battery always helps, especially if you spend most of your waking hours out of the house. No one has the time or patience to run for the charger every few days. But there’s a caveat. Some of the high-end fitness wearables like the Apple Watch don’t have the best battery life but offer some of the most desirable fitness tracking features so that’s a compromise you might be willing to make.
The Best Fitness Trackers
Best fitness tracker for iOS users
Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS 41mm)
If you’re an iOS user, this one’s a no-brainer. The Apple Watch, especially the latest Series 8 models offer some of the best fitness tracking features with a cool look. It’s designed for everyday users, so it offers an excellent mix of basic and advanced functions. You get multisport tracking, sleep monitoring, blood oxygen saturation, heart rhythms, and much more. It’s compatible with all other Apple goods: iPhone, iPad, AirPods, Apple Fitness+, Apple Music, and the like. You can also pair the Apple Watch with a wide range of health, fitness, and meditation apps like Headspace, Strava, and Nike Run Club. Apple continues to make it better and has recently added crash detection alerts, a 20-second hand washing timer, and period prediction.
Best affordable fitness tracker
Fitbit Charge 5
If you want those big charts and complex data to analyze after every workout, we recommend opting for popular fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge 5 or Garmin models. There’s one for every budget, need, and style. If you’re after traditional, hardcore workout tracking, it can’t get better than Fitbit. The Charge 5 comes in at an affordable price and has a battery life of 7 days. It also has daily scores for workout readiness, stress management and a host of other features that help with tracking your general fitness.
Best minimal fitness tracker
I personally hate bulky wristwatch-style fitness wearables. They’re itchy, sticky, heavy, and make exercising difficult as I’m always worried about slamming my wrist and breaking the display. It’s also weird sleeping with a wristwatch on. That’s why people like me love the Oura Ring. As the name suggests, it’s a small ring packing the power of a solid fitness tracker. It looks like a normal ring and its subtle, non-intrusive design means nothing is breaking, poking, or disrupting your everyday activities. Along with the usual activity tracking, it offers a Daily Readiness score that tells you whether to go hard or take it easy each day. It also offers some of the most detailed sleep charts compared to other trackers in the similar price range, making it a top option for users struggling with sleep issues. The biggest downside is that it lacks a display, although this could be a plus point for users who prefer a more subtle look.
Best unobtrusive fitness tracker
WHOOP 4.0 Health and Fitness Tracker
The WHOOP 4.0 is one of the most unobtrusive trackers that you can, literally, wear. Combined with the popular Whoop Body clothing line you can place the fitness wearable inside the clothing. Whoop has designed numerous garments from shorts, sports bras, leggings, T-shirts, and even underwear so you never have to deal with clunky wrist straps ever again. Investing in the special clothes to be compatible with the tracker adds to the price tag, which can be a negative for some people. If you’re on the fence you can still pick up the Whoop 4.0. It has a five day battery life and some of the best waterproofing and dustproofing capabilities we’ve seen in a fitness tracker.
Best fitness tracker for managing stress
If you love going down YouTube rabbit holes of how to live in sync with your menstrual cycle, this one’s for you. With a heavy focus on how the cycle influences other areas of life, the Ivy tracks periods, ovulation, and emotional health for women. It also monitors the body’s stress response and gives you a readiness score with suggestions for improvement. You also get a Wellness Score based on your self-care activities. If you have some money to spend, Premium users get in-app workouts and recipes tailored to their lifestyle. The best part though? It looks like a bracelet so it doesn’t look like a tech gadget as much as a reliable accessory. The Ivy doesn’t have a display and its fitness tracking is somewhat basic however it excels in other areas.
Best fitness tracker for athletes
The Airofit Breathing Trainer promises to improve your performance through breathing. It’s not your typical “wearable” tech. You simply hold it in your mouth and work through the different breathing training programs depending on whether you’re a runner, swimmer, triathlete, or a regular gym-goer. It also helps with health conditions like asthma and sleep issues. We love that it offers adjustable resistance levels to suit users at all stages so you don’t have to feel like a total noob struggling to catch up. The biggest issue here is that it offers nothing other than breathing training so unless you’re an athlete or someone struggling with respiratory issues, you might want something with more features.
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