In a technology driven world, why shouldn’t we be able to collect data on our every move? I’m not speaking about hidden cameras, but personal Activity Trackers! Understanding and acknowledging how much—or how little—we move or sleep can help provide useful insight to our daily lifestyle habits. The most challenging task may in fact be deciding which tracker to buy. Here are a few helpful guidelines that can help make your choice an informed one, and the most ideal for you and your tracking goals.
- Set your spending limit. A majority of the best fitness trackers run between $50-$250. If you are expecting to pay less then $50, then be prepared to have less features, i.e. no display. As many of the less expensive trackers generally do not provide a display, so you can’t see how many steps you’ve taken unless you look at your smartphone- if you do in-fact have a smartphone, right? Now, the more expensive trackers generally include built-in heart rate monitors and have a GPS. These features are often tailored toward athletes and active/exercise enthusiasts. Thus, if your primary activity is walking, don’t get suckered into buying a tracker with a heart rate monitor, as it’s truly an unnecessary expense. For those of you who workout often, the higher price point trackers will have more features- these of which are highly useful.
- Chose your personal “form factor”. Activity trackers generally come in several forms: bracelets, watches and or clip-ons. Watches have a more secure closure then bracelets, and clip-ons are smaller and more discreet devices for those who do not want to compromise their daily “accessorization”.
- Ask yourself if you want heart rate monitoring? Optical heart rate monitors are built into the device itself, thus you can monitor heart rate all day long. Some trackers only take your heart rate when working out. Some of the outstanding activity trackers do not have a heart rate monitor, yet you can pair it with a chest strap if desired.
- Is sleep something you wish to track? While proper sleep has many benefits to health and well-being, tracking it can help you understand what your recovery/rest phase looks like. Most trackers use a three-axis accelerometer in effort to detect movement. Some even go further in efforts to measure your heart rate and temperature to determine whether you have embraced a REM cycle or not.
- Do you desire, or are you sport specific? Active individuals vs. athletes will differ in their sport specific needs. Swimmers will need trackers that are waterproof, runners will require GPS for time, pace, distance and lap time, and cyclists may desire an activity tracker that can pair with a cadence sensor or additional bike equipment.
The Wareable.com technology review site features these as best fitness trackers for 2015:
Best Overall Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Charge HR
Best for Basics: Jawbone UP2
Best for Runner: Fitbit Surge
Best Coaching Device for Runner: Moov
Best for Multisports: Garmin Vivoactive
Best for Swimmers: Garmin Swim
Best for Accessorizing: Swarovski Shine
Best for Sleep Tracking: Misfit Shine
Best for Tight Budget: Jawbone UP Move; Misfit Flash
Best for Losing Weight: Withings; Garmin Vivofit 2
Best for Simplicity (no app required): Acer Liquid Leap