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Aug 9

The 8 Best Fitness Trackers To Work Up A Sweat And Optimize Your Health – Forbes

Staying in shape is a difficult task, and its made more difficult when youre going it alone. While most of us would prefer a bit of help, encouragement or professional coaching, you cant always rely on such luxuries. What you can rely on, however, is technologysuch as a fitness tracker or smartwatchthat will remind you to exercise, monitor your activity levels and track your progress over time. In fact, the best fitness trackers are the next best thing to having your own personal trainer.

Wearing a fitness tracker helps keep you on track to your fitness goals.

Choosing the right fitness tracker can prove daunting when you consider the many options available today. Fitbit, the company that singled-handedly popularized the concept of fitness tracking, sells a slew of different models. And then there are fitness trackers from Garmin, Coros, Polar and dozens of other companies. It pays to shop carefully, because not all trackers are designed for the kinds of exercise you want to do, and some have extra features, like smartphone notifications, heart rate monitoring, stress tracking and blood-oxygen level sensors.

No matter which fitness tracker you choose, theres a good chance itll cover all the basics pretty well, but you might want extras like water resistance (great if youre a swimmer), built-in GPS and specific sensors that cater to your personal needs. Weve rounded up 8 of the best fitness trackers you can buy today; no matter where you are on your fitness journey, theres a model here for you.

Screen:AMOLED touchscreen | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:7 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

The Fitbit Charge 5 captures the flag as the best overall fitness tracker because it represents, in many ways, the template from which all other trackers are created. The Charge 5 represents the culmination of everything Fitbit has learned about making wearables over the years, and includes pretty much everything the average person needs in a fitness tracker. It counts steps, distance and has sleep tracking features. It automatically recognizes when youre doing a variety of common workouts and starts tracking20 kinds of workouts in all. Its waterproof to about 150 feet and you can wear it into a pool to track swim workouts.

The Charge 5 replaces the older Charge 4 and, like most modern wearables, includes a full-time heart rate monitor. You also get an impressive 7-day battery life, but the coolest change in the new Charge 5 is the sleek, vibrant screen thats two times brighter than the Charge 4, and an always-on display mode that allows you to check your progress with just a glance.

Available in three color colors, other noteworthy features include irregular heart rhythm notifications, stress management scores, mood tracking and menstrual cycle tracking.

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Screen:HD AMOLED touchscreen | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:No | Battery life:18 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Theres no denying the fact that fitness trackers are expensive, but you can still get by with an affordable, capable option that doesnt cost an arm and a leg. For instance, the Amazfit Band 7 still features a brilliant screen, 24-hour heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and an ultra-long 18-day battery, but it costs a mere $50.

Featuring a display thats 112 percent larger than the previous generation Amazfit Band 5, software allows you to customize the watch face to your liking and you can even upload a series of personal photos. The waterproof housing is designed to withstand depths up to 50 meters, and a pool swimming mode can capture valuable swim data. If swimming isnt really your thing, simply peruse 120 different sport modes to find your preferred activity.

All this isnt to say the Band 7 is perfect. For instance, youll need to pair the tracker with your phone to use GPS, and theres no option to store music for on-the-go listening. Youll also need to use the Zepp app in order to view your personal metrics, so keep this in mind if youre already using Strava, MyFitnessPal or another preferred fitness app.

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Screen:240 x 240 display | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:7 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Polar has long lived in the shadow of its fitness rivals, Garmin and Fitbit, but the Finnish-based brand hit its stride in recent years thanks to high-end offerings like the Vantage V2. A capable blend of minimal and dynamic, its packed to the gills with serious tech that includes four forms of positional tracking, guided breathing exercises, training tests and an ultra-long battery mode that tracks activity for up to 100 hours. And of course, it has a price tag to match.

Youll find almost every kind of sensor imaginable in the Vantage V2, including Sp02, caloric consumption, ECG and sleep monitoring. Much of that works automatically while you sleepthe Vantage V2 measures your movements and blood oxygen levels at night to make some general assessments about your health. Of course, the watch also has all the usual fitness and workout features, allowing it to track most forms of exercise along with step tracking and heart rate. The watch can even indicate when you should push a little bit harder during a workout to get the most out of your session.

While the Vantage V2 ships with a rather traditional display, it still has solid usability features. The screen is still bright and responsive, you have the ability to receive notifications, and it works with both Apple and Android phones. It also offers about 7 days of battery life between charges when you use it in watch mode.

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Screen:Always-on memory LCD | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:20 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Sure, any fitness tracker with dedicated GPS could track your morning run, but the Coros Pace 2 stands out from the competition for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, its incredibly lightweight for its size, which means you wont be fumbling with your watch when youre trying to set a new personal best. Beyond the lightweight profile, it features a stronger processor and more memory space for add-on features. And the 20 days of battery life is paired with 30 hours of battery in GPS mode (a 20 percent increase from the original Coros Pace) and 60 hours in UltraMax GPS mode, all of which are respectable numbers whether youre using the watch casually or competing in your first ultramarathon.

If running isnt really your thing, the Pace 2 comes packed with a slew of other activity modes that target biking, swimming and strength training activities. And while many fitness trackers boast approximately 120 activity modes, this one comes packed with a staggering 200 exercises that allow you to target your upper body, lower body and core, and a muscle heatmap allows you to see which muscle groups receive the most action.

While it doesnt feature an Spo2 sensor, the Pace 2 does come packed with an optical heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter and a thermometer to keep an eye on body temperature in the midst of training.

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Screen:240 x 240 pixels | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:9 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Based on numbers alone, the Garmin Fenix 6S Pro is outstanding no matter how you decide to use it. Whether youre tracking a run, hike or walk, the watch relies on an array of global navigation systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) to deliver accurate distance, elevation, speed and health data, while advanced training features like PacePro keep tabs on your pace and offer training advice to help you get the most out of every workout. Like all Garmin wearables, it comes packed with a litany of different workouts to choose from and can even advise you to help you get the most out of those post-exercise recovery sessions.

But perhaps most importantly, this watch (along with other Garmin watches) takes into account how different hormones affect women, helping you make sense of nutritional choices and fluctuating workouts over the course of any given month. Simply use the Garmin Connect app to interact with your personal stats whenever you need a little more info. As is the case with other fitness wearables, this one synchs with your phone to display your texts, calls and other notifications.

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Screen:AMOLED touchscreen | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:6 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Fitbit offers a deep bench of productsboth fitness bands and smart watches. The Fitbit Sense is one of the brands more popular fitness watches, offering the most complete feature set in the Fitbit lineup. And its still moderately priced when compared to similar competition. If, however, you dont need everything the Sense has to offer, you can save a solid chunk of change by getting the more affordable Versa 3. But keep in mind that if you do, youll miss out on some health features like stress testing and ECG monitoring.

The Sense comes packed with an impressive number of sensors, including Sp02, skin temperature sensing, ECG and sleep monitoring. Sleep tracking takes place automatically in the backgroundthe Sense keeps track of your blood oxygen level and skin temperature to make general assessments about your health, but some of the more useful sleep tracking insights are hidden behind a paywall. The watch has all the usual fitness and workout features as well, from step counting to heart rate monitoring.

The Sense has solid usability features like a bright and responsive color touchscreen and voice commands via Alexa and Google Assistant, and works with both Apple and Android phones. It also offers about six days of battery life between charges.

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Screen:Always-on touchscreen memory LCD | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:30 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Similar in many ways to the aforementioned Coros Pace 2, the Coros Apex Pro features a vibrant screen, incredible battery life (40 hours of battery using standard GPS and up to 75 hours in UltraMax GPS mode) and an optical heart rate monitor and thermometer. But because this is a dedicated multisport watch, Coros also packs it with five navigation systems, downloadable landscape and topo maps, and additional features such as back-to-start and off-route alert that come in handy beyond the beaten path. For instance, if youre taking part in a competitive trail run series, simply download the course beforehand to stay on track even in the dead of night.

Unlike the Pace 2, the Apex Pro comes with an optical pulse oximeter to keep tabs on oxygen saturation, and the interface can be controlled via buttons along the bezel or by using the touchscreen display. Use the Find My Phone or Find My Watch feature in the event that you lose a piece of coveted tech, and receive notifications from your phone straight to your wrist.

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Screen:176 x 176 pixels | Heart rate tracker:Yes | Waterproof:Yes | Activity tracking:Yes | GPS:Yes | Battery life:28 days | Compatibility:Apple, Android

Unlike other fitness trackers that feature a vibrant display and high-end materials, the Instinct 2s bulky design looks more like the traditional watch you may have worn 10 years ago. But dont let its outdated appearance fool youthis watch is actually designed to withstand impacts, shocks, heat and water in ways most fitness trackers simply cant, a result of the fiber-reinforced polymer case and scratch-resistant glass built to military standards for toughness. While other watches are rated for depths up to 50 or 100 feet, the Instinct 2 still works over 300 feet below the surface.

Of course, this watch can do more than survive the next apocalypse. It comes packed with an array of sensors to monitor your heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and stress levels. It features incredible battery life, receives notifications from your phone and the solar edition charges the battery in the sun. Over 100 activity modes keep tabs on your body when youre getting active, and bold color options stand out from traditional fitness trackers. Whether youre looking for you fitness tracker that can go where others cant or simply like the look of a traditional design, the Instinct 2 is hard to beat.

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Fitness trackers come in a variety of form factorsdepending on the model, you can wear it like a bracelet or watch, clip it to your clothing, or even wear it like a ring on your finger. But no matter the exact appearance, fitness trackers all tend to offer the same basic set of features: They track your workouts and activity level, helping you to stay on a fitness plan and get (or keep) in shape.

The most basic fitness trackers are simply pedometersdevices that try to maintain an accurate count of your steps. But most modern fitness trackers do a lot more than that. These days, theyre often bristling with sensors which collect information to infer your fitness and health level. Here are the most common sensors found in fitness trackers:

All of these sensors, and sometimes others, can help you choose and track workouts as well as get a lot of supplemental information about your health and wellness. They can also track your sleep, stress level and other factors of good health.

Buying a new fitness tracker isnt just a financial investment, its a step toward improving your overall health. Thats why its crucial to find a tracker that integrates with your daily life, and at the very least, comes with basic features that let you track whats most important to you.

Not all trackers can recognize all exercises. For instance, if you want to track swim workouts, be sure to look not just for a tracker thats waterproof, but also one that explicitly supports swimming. Likewise, only a handful of trackers support really unusual sports and workoutsso if youre into hang gliding or BMX, be sure to look into options like the Vivosmart 4. When considering different models, be sure to narrow down your options by reflecting on the various activities youd like to track.

Most modern fitness bands track a variety of broader health and fitness attributes as well. Weve already discussed features like Spo2, ECG and bioelectric impedance sensors, and these are generally far from mandatorybut increasingly, all but the most budget models are starting to sport these sorts of advanced sensors. Just keep in mind that a lot of the whole-body analytics you get from sensors like these are often not especially actionable; you might get a general sense of your overall health, fitness level or sleep quality, but it can be hard to know what to do to improve. Until that aspect of the software catches up to the hardware, you can consider all of these advanced features pretty optional.

Depending on the build quality, available sensors and screen resolution, battery life can last anywhere from one day to several months. If you intend to use your fitness tracker as a traditional pedometer, you can probably get by with a model that features a smaller battery. But if you intend to use it over prolonged periods of time (for instance, when backpacking or running a marathon), consider opting for a model that features extended battery life or solar charging to supplement the battery in direct sunlight.

As much as wed like trackers to be completely accurate, third-party testing reveals that this is rarely the case. Manufacturers often rely on algorithms and sensors to track certain metrics, which leads to a small degree of error. With this in mind, consider investing in a fitness tracker thats designed to support your preferred activities. For instance, a chest strap that measures your heart rate and transmits data to your fitness tracker will be more accurate than the integrated heart rate sensor glued to your wrist.

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The 8 Best Fitness Trackers To Work Up A Sweat And Optimize Your Health - Forbes

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