Fitness trackers can help improve your overall health
Even 10 minutes of brisk activity -- like walking fast or climbing the stairs -- can help you lose weight and stay in shape, according to recent studies. But making sure you are getting enough daily exercise can be challenging. Enter in the fitness tracker: a small wearable device that charts your activity, calories and sleep. "Whether your health goals are modest or you're hoping for a full fitness transformation, using a personal fitness tracking device can go a long way toward helping you understand if the exercise and health habits you keep are contributing to the new you," explains Jill Duffy with PCMag.com.
Fitness trackers go a step beyond pedometers, which typically only count steps and tally distance. Also called activity trackers, body measurement trackers or wearables, these small devices can chart bicycling, climbing stairs, running and swimming. Most even track the quantity and quality of your sleep. Users keep the tracker on their body 24 hours a day, worn on the wrist or arm or clipped to clothing. Some fitness trackers measure other biometrics such as heart rate, skin temperature and perspiration to more accurately measure calories burned and exercise intensity levels.
A key advantage to fitness trackers is that they upload all of this data to your computer or smart device, where a fitness app graphs your averages and totals. Advanced apps offer customized weight-loss plans and help you manage your fitness goals. Some connect to social media to share your progress or motivate you even more with friendly competition. Though many smartphones offer apps similar to a fitness tracker, experts say these aren't as accurate as a device dedicated to tracking activity, which usually uses a 3-axis accelerometer to measure motion.
Fitness trackers run between $50 and $250, but the best models typically cost about $100. For a less expensive step counter, consider spending about $20 for a pedometer; we cover the best models in our pedometers report.
When selecting a fitness tracker, you should consider the type of activity you commonly do, what data you wish to track and the tracker's compatibility with your computer or smartphone. Also, because you will wear it all day, every day, comfort and design are important considerations.
ConsumerSearch editors analyzed expert and user reviews as well as side-by-side comparisons to narrow down the list of the top fitness trackers. To find the top-performing fitness trackers, we looked for devices that are accurate, easy to sync, comfortable to wear and include an effective fitness app. One of these will help you reach your fitness and activity goals.