Fitbit Inspire HR
From the first name in wearable trackers comes the standard-bearer for fitness watches.
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Sometimes, the first really is the best. When Fitbit came out in 2007, it revolutionized the way people monitored their fitness and structured their workouts. But not all Fitbits are created equal. We think the Fitbit Inspire takes our coveted Best Overall award for a combination of reasons: its SmartTrack app, long battery life, Bluetooth capabilities, water-resistance and of course, price. Fitbit monitors your heart rate 24/7, which allows it to more accurately track things like resting heart rate, calories burned, and most efficient heart rate zones during your workout. It doesn’t just count steps, but tracks your activity all day long, including distance, active minutes & hours and calories burned. It even tracks while you’re asleep, giving you greater insight to your Alpha stage, deep sleep and REM cycles. And at this price, it’s not the most costly Fitbit, either.
- 5-day battery life
- Built-in GPS
- Easy peg-and-loop fastener
- Reacts negatively in hot water
- Recharge times can be inconsistent
Apple Watch Series 5
In their quest to do everything better than everyone else, the Apple Watch Series 5 puts most fitness trackers to shame.
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We think the bottom line is this: you’re not going to wear two gadgets on your wrist. For many people, when the question becomes, “Do I need a fitness tracker?” another question immediately pops up: “Do I need any other information available on my wrist?” Apple tries to make this an easy decision by offering electrical and optical heart sensors, an ECG app, a swim-proof case, GPS tracking, built-in compass, and its proprietary Activity Rings – basically, all the swoopy features you can find on other fitness watches and a whole lot more. How much more? iPhone more. Yes, you’re going to pay about $500 for an iPhone extension on your wrist, but if you want iOS functionality dangling from your arm bone, this is the way to achieve it.
- Streams 60 million songs, podcasts & audiobooks
- 30% larger screen
- Does not require carrying your iPhone
- Cost prohibitive
- Not compatible with prepaid carriers
Letscom Fitness Tracker HR
With all the basic features of the best fitness watches but at a fraction of the cost, the Letscom is the perfect value alternative.
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Getting in shape and hitting your fitness goals doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money. The Letscom Fitness Tracker has all the standard features you need for a healthy lifestyle: heart rate monitor, calorie counter, step counter, pedometer, and auto-sleep tracking. It also comes with its proprietary “VeryFitPro” app, which you can download on your phone to track activities like biking, running, spinning, yoga and more, helping you to optimize your workouts. It even allows you to receive emails and other notifications – and yes, it tells time.
- Comes in six colors
- Up to 7 days of battery life
- Compatible with iOS 7/Android 4.4 and above
- No 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- Does not record data overnight
Fitbit Ace 2 Activity Tracker For Kids
Keeping your kids in shape has never been easier and more efficient with the Fitbit Ace 2.
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With the hectic schedules that kids have these days, sometimes it’s easy to lose focus on the importance of physical activity. That’s why Fitbit created the Ace 2 Activity Tracker for Kids. The tracker monitors both steps and active minutes, then rewards kids with delightful, on-screen badges or virtual celebrations when they reach a goal. With the accompanying app, parents can set up a separate Fitbit account for their children, who can then create step challenges and send encouraging messages to other kids on the app. Better still, it’s much more affordable than an adult’s Fitbit, so it’s easy to get kids started on good habits they’ll carry into adulthood.
- Also monitors sleep patterns
- Interchangeable bands and accessories
- Swim-proof to 50 meters
- Thin silicone band
- Will not sync to a tablet
Garmin Vivoactive 3
The leader in GPS functionality creates a fitness watch that’s made for fitness buffs on the go.
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With a name like Garmin, you know this fitness watch has to have best-in-class GPS, which is imperative for hikers, rafters, cyclists and more. So of course it comes with extensive GPS functionality, as well as thousands of free apps, widgets, watch faces and more from the Garmin Connect IQ Store. The app also allows you to customize your own workout, then transfer it to the watch, which will then monitor and analyze your progress. Need more? The Vivoactive 3 is the first Garmin wearable device to feature Garmin Pay, allowing you to make purchases directly from the watch. And once you’re synced with a mobile device, you can send and receive text messages and get social media updates. It’s a lot of features for a lot less cost.
- VO2 Max feature monitors stress levels
- 13-hour battery life in GPS mode
- Comfortable enough to wear 24/7
- Screen settings can change in rainfall
- Bluetooth connectivity can be intermittent
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all fitness watches require a smartphone and an app?
No. A fitness watch will record, monitor and display all your data like distance, heart rate and calories on its own. However, you will not receive that information on your cell phone. If you want to see or sort that data on your cell phone, you’ll need a fitness tracker that can send a Bluetooth signal to your phone and upload its data to your app. If this is a feature you want, make sure the fitness watch you’re considering has this capability, as not all do.
I have a favorite fitness app I use to track my progress. Will it work with any fitness watch I purchase?
Maybe. An app like Google Fit was designed to be compatible with as many devices as possible. However, some fitness watches come with a native app that is the only app compatible with that device. We suggest you take a deep dive into this question when shopping for a tracker, in case you have a preference in the fitness app you’re currently using.
Ok, so does using a fitness watch really make a difference?
According to a study by Dan Kinsbourne of YOO Fitness, 75% of all fitness tracker users will abandon the product within 3 months of purchase. However, those who wear and use the tracker for at least 66 days report a greater sense of achieving their fitness goals. Fitness watches are great for people who want to change their habits and create a healthier lifestyle. We recommend that you integrate your fitness watch into your daily routine for at least two months to see optimal results.