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Top Fitness Trackers for Health Hacking

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Fitness trackers have significantly evolved since the days of simply counting 10,000 steps.

Today, you can choose from rings, watches, bands, and other tech gadgets to help you stay fit, manage your sleep, monitor your heart rate, count steps, track calories, and monitor various health aspects.

Research conducted by Sutter Health, a not-for-profit integrated health delivery system based in Sacramento, California, indicates that fitness trackers can aid not only in getting fit but also in managing chronic conditions like diabetes and maintaining optimal heart health.

With so many options available, selecting the right fitness tracker can feel overwhelming. The key is to determine what you want your fitness tracker to accomplish.

For example, I use a basic Garmin Vivofit model to count steps and stairs. However, most fitness enthusiasts will want their tech to offer more features. Here’s a roundup of tools to help you enhance your health through fitness tracking.

Choosing the Right Fitness Tracker

When selecting a fitness tracker, consider the type of wearable you prefer and how you intend to use it. Ask yourself the following questions before making a purchase:

How do I plan to use this fitness tracker?

Some trackers are designed for specific activities like swimming or running. Think about your primary use for the tracker—do you want it to monitor sleep, calories, steps, or miles?

Research from UCLA Health, affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, shows that fitness trackers paired with personalized feedback and encouragement from health coaches and medical professionals can lead to “sustained improvements” in sleep and exercise. These features might be available through apps connected to some devices.

Simply wearing a device may not yield long-term fitness results, but it can support efforts to focus on health. UCLA’s research found that “integrating wearable devices into more comprehensive, personally tailored behavioral interventions improves compliance and behavior change.”

How much can I afford to spend?

There are budget-friendly fitness trackers that collect basic data, and even free step-counter apps available on your phone. The more features you want in a fitness tracker, the higher the cost.

Do I care about fashion or just functionality?

My Garmin is slim and black, but I can switch the band to purple or blue depending on my mood. I once owned a rose-gold Fitbit because I loved the color.

 Some friends prefer fashionable and attractive fitness watches. Consider what constitutes fashion for you and how important color or band size is to you.

How does it charge?

I charge my tracker through my laptop, which can be inconvenient when traveling. Others come with their own charging stations.

 Decide how simple or complex you want the charging process to be, and consider how long a single charge will last.

Is it compatible with my phone?

I believe a fitness tracker should be compatible with your phone, especially since most trackers have paired apps or websites. There are many quality fitness tracking devices available that are compatible with both Android and iPhone.

Our Top Picks for the Best Fitness Trackers

Best Budget Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Inspire 3

Fitbit offers an excellent range of affordable options. While these may not have as many features as others, they provide everything necessary for essential health and fitness tracking.


The Fitbit Inspire 3 monitors steps and heart rate and includes the added benefit of indicating your heart rate variability and stress levels.

 Although it lacks GPS (that's what your phone is for), you can link it to a Fitbit premium subscription to access meditation sessions, nutrition plans, and more.


Specifications:

  • Size (display and/or band): 0.77-inch display; strap length 5.5 - 8.7 inches

  • Weight: N/A

  • Battery life: 10 days

  • Display type: Face

  • GPS: No

  • Connectivity: N/A

  • Water resistance: Yes (5 ATM rating)

  • Music storage: No

  • Price on publish: $99.95

Pros:

  • Lightweight

  • Inexpensive

  • Attractive band color options

  • Suitable for showering, swimming, diving, and snorkeling

Cons:

  • May not offer enough features for serious trackers

An affordable, lightweight, waterproof tracker that can help you monitor your heart health.

Best for Serious Outdoor Athletes: Fēnix 7 Pro Solar Edition

This fitness tracker watch comes with a high price tag, but if it fits within your budget, it offers a remarkable 22-day battery life thanks to its solar charging lens.

For those who love intense outdoor workouts, this device ensures you won't run out of power quickly.

 It also features a built-in flashlight for nightly runs, hikes, or mountain climbs.

Additionally, it includes SATIQ™ Technology and multi-band GPS, 24/7 health and wellness monitoring, and performance features for adventure enthusiasts, such as hill score, Climbpro tracking, real-time stamina data, grade-adjusted pace metrics, and more.

Specifications:

  • Size (display and/or band): 1.33-inch display; fits wrists with a circumference of:

  • Silicone band: 125 - 208 mm

  • Leather band: 132 - 210 mm

  • Fabric band: 132 - 210 mm

  • Metal band: 132 - 215 mm

  • Weight: 79 grams

  • Battery life: Up to 18 days in Smartwatch mode; up to 22 days with solar

  • Display type: Watch face

  • GPS: Yes

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

  • Water resistance: Yes (10 ATM rating)

  • Music storage: N/A

  • Price on publish: $799.99

Pros:

  • 22-day battery life

  • Utilizes solar technology

  • Comprehensive features

  • 10 ATM rating, making it suitable for swimming, diving, and high-speed water sports

 

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Extensive features may be overwhelming for some users

Ideal for professionals who can afford its price, this watch offers an extended 22-day battery life with solar technology, making it perfect for long treks away from home.

Most Stylish Fitness Watch: Garmin Lily Sport Edition

Combining style and functionality, the Garmin Lily is a dependable fitness tracker available in rose gold (or other finishes).

 It monitors steps, sleep, stress, calories, and more. It's water-resistant up to 164 feet—a substantial benefit for stylish swimmers.

 Additionally, it provides a daily "morning report" that includes calendar events, the weather, and step goals. Pair it with Garmin apps for a comprehensive tracking experience, and customize the band and watch face to match your style.

Specifications:

  • Size (display and/or band): 1 inch x 0.84 inch display; fits wrists with a circumference of 110 - 175 mm

  • Weight: 24 grams

  • Battery life: Up to 5 days (Smartwatch mode)

  • Display type: Watch face

  • GPS: Yes, with a compatible smartphone

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

  • Water resistance: Yes (5 ATM rating)

  • Music storage: No

  • Price on publish: $249.99

Pros:

 

  • Options for watch face and band

  • Numerous features, including a "morning report"

  • Women's health tracking

  • Corning Gorilla Glass lens

  • Suitable for showering, swimming, diving, and snorkeling

Cons:

  • Battery life lasts only five days

  • Works best with the Garmin app

A stylish and waterproof fitness watch from Garmin that tracks sleep, calories, steps, heart health, oxygen levels, and more.

Best Fitness Ring and Best Fitness and Sleep Tracker: Oura Ring

Oura is one of the pioneers (if not the pioneer) in the fitness ring market. Launched in 2015, it has since become a favorite among fitness enthusiasts, celebrities, and anyone who can afford its higher price tag.

 Available in four finishes and two styles, the Oura ring maintains a discreet appearance, resembling a wedding band.


Currently in its third generation, the Oura ring continues to monitor various health metrics such as body temperature, heart rate, sleep duration, blood oxygen levels, and more.

 If you prefer a subtle health-tracking device over bulkier fitness trackers, the stylish Oura ring is an excellent choice. However, it's worth noting that this tracker is specifically designed to monitor sleep and health rather than track steps and calories.

Therefore, if those latter features are your main interest, you might want to consider other options.

To access data from the Oura ring, you need to subscribe to the Oura app, which costs approximately $70 per year.

This ring stands out because it is both stylish and one of the best sleep trackers available on the market. (For more information on Oura and other similar trackers, see our roundup of the best smart rings.)

Specifications:

  • Size: Available in 8 band sizes; free sizing kit available upon order

  • Weight: 4 to 6 grams

  • Battery Life: Up to 7 days on a full charge

  • Display: N/A, data available via the app

  • GPS: N/A

  • Connectivity: Connects to your phone via Bluetooth

  • Water Resistance: Yes (10 ATM rating)

  • Music Storage: N/A

  • Price: Starts at $299, plus an annual subscription

Pros:

  • Excellent tool for improving and understanding your sleep

  • Tracks various health measures: heart health, pulse oxygen, etc.

  • 10 ATM rating makes it suitable for swimming, diving, and high-speed water sports

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Requires an annual subscription to its app

  • Not as well-reviewed for general fitness tracking

A sleek, stylish, and comfortable (and waterproof) ring that can track 20 biometric signals—all from your finger.

Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker: Garmin Swim 2

Garmin’s Swim 2 is a premium tracker ideal for those who enjoy aquatic sports and fitness. It offers two modes for different types of swimming—pool and open water.

 The built-in GPS is perfect for open water activities like swimming in lakes, oceans, and rivers, while the SWOLF feature gauges your swimming efficiency in pools.

 This tracker measures distance, stroke count, pace, and more, making it perfect for serious swimming workouts.

When paired with the Garmin app, the Swim 2 offers advanced features and monitors your estimated wrist-based heart rate even underwater during swim activities.

Unlike some trackers that are merely water-resistant, the Garmin Swim 2 is waterproof, designed specifically for water sports.

 If you’re a dedicated swimmer looking to upgrade your workout gear, consider exploring our list of the best waterproof headphones.

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.04-inch display; fits wrists with a circumference of 129 - 197 mm

  • Weight: 1.2 ounces

  • Battery Life: Up to 7 days (smartwatch mode), 13 hours (GPS mode), 72 hours (pool mode)

  • Display Type: Watch face

  • GPS: Yes, built-in GPS for open water swimming

  • Connectivity: Can be paired with a compatible smartphone

  • Water Resistance: Yes (5 ATM rating)

  • Music Storage: N/A

  • Price: $249 at publication

Pros:

  • Works great in open water or local pools

  • Measures all essential metrics for swimmers

  • Large replacement band available for wrists with a circumference of 151 - 219 mm

Cons:

  • May feel bulky on some wrists

This is a waterproof fitness tracker watch designed for serious swimmers who perform aquatic sports in both pools and open water.

Best Fitness Tracker for iPhone Users: Apple Watch Series 9

Unsurprisingly, the best fitness tracker for iPhone users is the Apple Watch. The Series 9 tracks heart rate, steps, calories, and other health-related metrics while also functioning as a smartwatch.

 (For options for your children, check out our guide on the best kids' smartwatches.) This tracker is water-resistant, so you can take it into the swimming pool. Opt for the aluminum finish to save money, or upgrade to stainless steel.

Specifications:

  • Size: 41 mm or 45 mm display

  • Weight: 31.9 - 38.7 grams (aluminum), 42.3 - 55 grams (stainless steel)

  • Battery Life: Up to 18 hours

  • Display Type: Watch face

  • GPS: Yes

  • Connectivity: Yes

  • Water Resistance: Yes (5 ATM rating)

  • Music Storage: Yes

  • Price: Starts at $399 and goes up

Pros:

  • Pairs seamlessly with the iPhone

  • Offers additional features like cycle tracking and emergency SOS

  • Suitable for showering, swimming, diving, and snorkeling

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Requires an iOS phone and account to use

If you want a fitness tracker that integrates seamlessly with your iPhone, the Apple Watch may be your best option.

Best Fitness Tracker for Android Users: Fitbit Charge 6 Fitness & Health Tracker

The Fitbit Charge 6 is an excellent choice for Android users who prefer a traditional fitness tracker over a Google watch.

This device is highly compatible and versatile, allowing you to monitor stress levels, sleep patterns, steps taken, cardiovascular health, menstrual cycles, skin temperature, and more.

Its battery life extends up to a week without needing a recharge, and its sleek design makes it more comfortable to wear compared to bulkier watches. Additionally, it features built-in GPS, which we find particularly impressive.

Specifications:

  • Size (display and/or band):04-inch display; small band fits wrists 5.1 - 6.7 inches in circumference, large band fits wrists 6.7 - 8.3 inches in circumference

  • Weight:33 ounces

  • Battery life: Up to 7 days

  • Display type: Full-color AMOLED

  • GPS: Yes

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

  • Water resistance: Yes (5 ATM rating)

  • Music storage: Via your iPhone

  • Price at publication: $159.95

Pros:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection

  • Slim design

  • Over 40 sports modes

  • Hydration reminders

  • Sleep score

  • Both small and large bands included

  • Suitable for showering, swimming, diving, and snorkeling

Cons:

  • None!

The Fitbit Charge 6 excels at tracking various health and fitness metrics and even includes AFib detection.

How We Selected the Best Fitness Trackers

Expert Advice and Product Testing:

To compile our list of the best fitness trackers, I personally tested several models and consulted with fitness trainers.

 I inquired about the factors to consider when purchasing a tracker and the brands they recommend.

Variety of Budgets:

I evaluated a range of trackers from different price points to provide options suitable for all budgets.

Diversity of Features:

The selected trackers offer a broad array of features, including monitoring oxygen levels, heart rate, calories burned, laps counted, sleep quality, location, and menstrual cycles, distinguishing them in a crowded market. These are not just basic step counters!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which fitness tracker has the best GPS?

Several fitness trackers offer excellent GPS systems, such as the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro Solar and the Garmin Forerunner 955.

Which fitness tracker does not require a subscription?

While there's a trend towards subscription-based fitness trackers, you can still find options from Garmin and Fitbit that do not require a subscription.

Do doctors recommend fitness trackers?

Some doctors may recommend fitness trackers, but this varies from doctor to doctor.

Is Garmin better than Fitbit?

Both Garmin and Fitbit produce high-quality fitness trackers. The best choice depends on your personal preference.


Source: time

The opinions shared in the GymNation blog articles are solely those of the respective authors and may not represent the perspectives of GymNation or any member of the GymNation team.