Best Activity Trackers 2018 are devices used to track fitness and activity trackers are used to track your daily and sleep activities. Well this is what the general belief is.
In reality the two terms are interchanged all the time and are commonly referred to the same piece of equipment. Some people also call them “smart watches”.
This site is built as a means to compare fitness or activity trackers. Through the write ups, reviews and comparisons published on this site, I will be using the terms interchangeably and usually within the context of the writing.
My name is Bryan and I am a Personal Trainer and a techie enthusiast. When shopping for my activity tracker, I spent hours reading about which one is the best for me. From site to site, I found the information to be… well not as conclusive as I’d like.
So I learnt the specifications of the device and then read extensive independent customer reviews and also had the pleasure of testing many of the trackers myself. Based on all of this, I can bring you accurate and detailed reviews and comparisons on fitness trackers. So lets get into it!
What Are Activity Trackers?
Activity trackers are devices we carry with us to monitor our day to day activities.
You can get activity trackers that you can carry around with you in your pocket, in your bra or clipped on the side of your trousers.
More commonly, however, they are worn on the wrist as a watch or bracelet.
Activity trackers monitor your daily “activities”. You simply enter your statistics on the website of the company who’s tracker you have purchased, sync it to the device and you are ready to go.
Activity trackers track the below data. Of course the model you get would depend on the features you have but this guide shows you the general idea of what features you can get;
- Your steps – so how many steps you have walked during the day. This helps push you to become active. Instead of driving to work, if its possible, walk. Instead of driving to the shops, walk.
- Stairs climbed – some trackers will also track the amount of stairs you have climbed using altitude sensors. Climbing stairs burns more calories than walking. This also encourages you to take the stairs at the office or in the shopping centre instead of the lift.
- Calories burnt – using your statistical data you have logged and based on the above activities, your tracker will track and log the amount of calories you burn during the day. Again, a good motivator for you to spend less time sitting down and more time… well, being active!
- Heart rate – this can be a very important metric especially for us who are heavily into keeping in shape as you always want to keep a close eye on your resting heart rate.Second to that, it is also good to monitor the heart rate during workouts. Especially when doing cardio. Whether its HIIT (high intensity interval training) or LISS (low intensity steady state) we want to track the beats per minute. If you are doing the HIIT then you will not want it to drop during the intensity phase and even watch it doesn’t drop too low during the interval phase.If its LISS then you want to keep your hearts beats per minute between the suggested heart rates for you. To calculate which is the best heart rate for you, enter your statistics and find out here. The fitness tracker monitors this through your pulse when worn on the wrist.
- Sleep – I would say an important factor to consider when looking at a tracker because sleep is a big part of our day to day activities. We do spend 6-10 hours (in general) everyday sleeping. The quality of that sleep will have a direct effect on your well being. The trackers monitor this with movement sensors in the tracker and then comparing that data from the heart rate.If you are moving around and your heart rate is moderately fast then there’s a good chance you are either awake or in light sleep. If, on the other hand, you are still for a period of time and your heart rate is low then its safe to assume you are enjoying deep sleep. Silent alarm – to wake you up and not your partner.A gentle yet noticeable vibration alert from your monitor will wake you up without disturbing anyone else in the room or making a sound. The higher end models have a feature where it wakes you up within your wake up time window when it senses that you are in light sleep.In my honest opinion, this makes all the difference and its something I would recommend highly. Waking up from a light sleep will mean waking up refreshed and satisfied where waking up from a deep sleep means waking up feeling tired and well, not great.
- Exercise – a good feature to track your activity and heart levels specifically during workouts. This way you can separate your activities and track your workouts exclusively over time.
- Notifications – get your phone notifications directly to your fitness tracker. Perfect if you are on the move and your phone isn’t accessible. Some trackers will show more notification data than others.
- GPS – for the outdoor people like myself. I love walking outside so a tracker that not only tracks all my activities but one that also tracks my GPS location was an absolute dream for me. Now I can log my geographic locations on all of my walks and hikes.
- Time – most trackers which have a display will show you the current time. I think this is a required feature because you will automatically expect the wrist bands to tell you the time.
- Water resistance – not all trackers are water resistance. Most are splash proof. Some are water resistance to a certain depth so you can track your swim.One of my favourite features is on some trackers which senses if you have been stationary for too long. If you have been inactive for a certain amount of time, it will vibrate to tell you to “get up and do something, be active”. Other will actually show you how long you have been inactive vs active – this can be a really good motivator!
These are some of the common features to expect from your typical activity trackers.
As with anything, some devices will be better and more accurate at tracking certain features. This is where comparisons work best so you can find which is the best for your lifestyle needs.
Noteworthy Mentions When Buying Your Tracker.
- Battery life – you want to make sure the tracker has a decent battery life. As a rule, the more features your tracker has the less charge it will hold. Having said that some of the trackers hold a good charge for a number of days and have decent features.
- App features – what sort of things does the dashboard log and track?
- App Interface – This maybe subjective but if you are to use the tracker and follow your progress daily then you would want an interface that you can follow easily.
- Smart suggests – some trackers have a “smart” suggest feature. This is where it uses your statistics and your past activity and workouts, based on this information it will suggest you to walk x steps further or workout for that much longer. The suggestions are realistic and are there to push and motivate you.
- Smart alarm – as above a typical silent alarm will wake you up at the desired time. A smart alarm will wake you up when it senses you are in a light state of sleep.
What Is The Best Fitness Band?
This is a question that I get asked almost everyday. Especially when someone in the gym sees my tracker.
Well, many people assume that the one I have is automatically the best for them. Not true.
The one I have is best for me and unfortunately, with women’s fitness trackers there is no one size that is best for all.
For example one of my clients has an office job and she is at work during the weekday and then goes to the gym after work and once on Saturday mornings. While she works hard to keep her fitness level up, she would not be interested in some of the more advanced features like heart rate tracking or GPS. She would be interested in the general daily activity monitoring and perhaps the sleep tracking. This is enough to motivate her and keep her on track.
The other extreme I suppose is me. I workout everyday. Sometimes twice a day. Since my profession is a Personal Trainer, I am also on my feet for most of the day. I also enjoy walking outdoors when I’m not at work or working out. So for someone like me, heart rate tracking and GPS is very important. While the GPS is something I could possibly live without and is not crucial in my fitness regime, the heart rate monitor is a feature I could definitely not live without.
So what tracker is best for you is entirely dependant on your activity and requirements.
Keep On Moving
Fitness trackers not only motivate you by you statistics but they provide a platform where you can compete with friends and family. Most of the tracker companies have their own dashboards where your data is held. You can keep this data private or share it. You can share it openly so with the community or you fan share it privately with your friends. One of the best features of the tracker is that there is a better chance of you competing with others than there is of you trying to beat your own levels.
To go with your fitness tracker, we also have the option to have a smart scale. Smart scales and fitness trackers go hand in hand.
The scale connects to your dashboard via WiFi connectivity so all of your data is kept updated.
The scale would typically measure your weight, body mass index, body fat levels amongst other things.
Just another neat little toy that is functional for techies and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Sync With Other Apps
Most of the fitness trackers on the market are able to sync with other apps. For example most of the big names will sync with your My Fitness Pal profile as well as other activity / fitness based apps.
So if you have a favourite fitness app that you use; you may want to make sure the tracker you are looking at buying syncs with it.
Track Your Food Intake
Many of the major activity trackers have apps which enable you to log your food. This helps determine not only your calorific intake but also your macro nutrients. So, for example, if your Personal Trainer or Dietician has put you on a high protein and fat, low carbohydrates diet; you will be able to track these numbers on the dashboard.
This feature also helps to keep you off unhealthy snacking in between meals.