Which fitness tracker is right for you?
You're off to a great start on your new fitness program. A fitness tracker may be just what you need to stay motivated and track your progress.
Choosing the right fitness tracker can be daunting. Classified as "wearable technology," fitness trackers can be used as simple devices to track distance walked, run or biked or as technology companions to monitor your sleep and lifestyle patterns, acting as a kind of fitness coach.
Which is best for your needs?
- Fitness apps: If your main activity is walking and you want to track your steps and distance, a simple fitness app with built-in GPS works well.
- Heart rate monitors: Fitness trackers with built-in optical heart rate monitors capture your heart rate during activities and at rest. They are accurate, but expensive. For the budget-conscious, devices that track heart rate only while you are active may work best. You can also combine a simple fitness tracker with a less-expensive chest strap to record your heart rate. And if you really want to know your resting heart rate, a simple app will work well.
- Sport-specific: Fitness trackers are now designed for any sport. Swimmers should choose true, waterproof trackers that track swimming activity; runners need to look for trackers that record distance, time, pace and lap time; and cyclists need to consider trackers that not only record miles covered, but also your power and cadence.
- Smart watches versus fitness trackers: Be careful—some smart watches track fitness, but fitness trackers are superior as true fitness trackers.
Before you invest in a fitness tracker, first consider your fitness goals, comfort level and budget. Are you a weekend warrior or a serious athlete? Are you comfortable wearing a tracker all day, do you prefer wireless smart headphones that play music and track your performance, or would a simple clip-on device suffice?
It all comes down to price. Fitness trackers cost between $40 and $600 or more. For optimal fitness results, the most important data to capture is your heart rate and the distance covered. If your budget is small, a simple chest strap and app combo works well. If you can afford higher-end models, the advanced technology gives you a comprehensive, accurate picture of your overall fitness level.
Regardless of which fitness tracker you choose, the important thing is to stay motivated and improve your overall fitness. Remember: Before you start any exercise program, always check with your physician.