Whereas Fitbit was one of many first corporations to transcend easy step counting — giving perception into energy burned, sleep knowledge and extra — a number of manufacturers have constructed a powerful health neighborhood round their merchandise, permitting folks to attach with others who’re additionally on a mission to drop a few pounds, get match or enhance their endurance and velocity.
That’s why, over the course of a month, we examined seven extremely rated, beloved health trackers. We ran. We walked. We lifted. We in contrast ease of use, construct high quality and accuracy. After a more-active-than-usual couple of weeks, we discovered one health tracker that tops all of them:
Fitbit Encourage 2
Since first releasing health trackers in 2014, Fitbit has been thought of essentially the most accessible model for all well being warriors — from novices to specialists.
Although each Fitbit fashions we tried excelled throughout our testing, the Encourage 2 was slimmer and simpler to each arrange and perceive than the Fitbit Cost 4. Its glossy construct ensured it didn’t catch on clothes (or the rest) whereas understanding, and the skinny display appeared much less susceptible to bumps and scratches, so in a means it felt much less shatterproof than others. A few of the different trackers, just like the Fitbit Cost, had been simply barely greater, however nonetheless large enough to note the distinction. (We concede that consolation is wholly subjective, however we finally discovered the slimmer Encourage 2 much less obtrusive whereas carrying and due to this fact assume it will be snug even for these with smaller wrists. For these searching for extra heft and barely bigger faces, the Fitbit Cost Four or Garmin Vivosmart Four may be extra excellent.) Regardless of its barely smaller display, we by no means struggled to learn our stats within the Encourage 2, even whereas rapidly peeking throughout intense exercises.
Setup was a cinch and happened throughout the Fitbit app, which is obtainable on Google Play, iTunes or Microsoft. Simply create a free profile, sync through Bluetooth, cost your tracker and also you’re able to get began. For higher accuracy, it’s important to fill out your private data, together with your top and whether or not you’re carrying the tracker in your dominant or nondominant wrist. Your top usually determines your gait — the size of your step — and the Encourage 2 is meant to trace in another way based mostly on which hand you’re utilizing (although we didn’t discover a big distinction in monitoring after we examined on completely different wrists).
It’s also possible to arrange step targets (we aimed for 10,000, for example) in addition to weight reduction, water consumption, wellness, sleep and extra. Whenever you log in to your Fitbit app, your house web page routinely shows a semicompleted circle of what number of steps you’ve taken for the day. A fast scroll will present you energetic minutes (when your coronary heart fee was raised), your common resting coronary heart fee and extra knowledge. It’s also possible to set and log your water targets.
Fitbit Encourage 2
You’ve got the choice to activate a notification to remind you to get in at the least 250 steps per hour to satisfy your motion aspirations for the day. This was one thing that, as we’re now working (and exercising and cooking and current 24/7) at dwelling, we discovered to be extremely useful; on a number of events, the characteristic (which it’s also possible to discover on the Garmin and Withings trackers) gave us the immediate we wanted to tug ourselves out of our seat and stroll upstairs or seize the pup for a fast around-the-block jaunt.
Fitbit claims that it could routinely inform what sort of health you’re partaking in, from swimming to biking to greater than 20 different actions, however we didn’t discover this declare to be fully correct in our testing. Whereas the Fitbit Encourage 2 did acknowledge after we had been doing cardio, it learn energy coaching as king (our assumption is that’s as a result of our coronary heart fee would solely rise right here and there throughout these classes); after we biked, it picked it up as swimming. This wasn’t an anomaly pegged solely to Fitbit, as not one of the trackers constantly recognized energy coaching. Regardless of that hiccup, we did like how the Fitbit app instructed us precisely after we had been in our most energetic, fat-burning mode and after we had been at relaxation. We discovered this data to be useful, primarily because it provides perception into what number of extra energy to burn to satisfy targets.
One of the vital — and fascinating — options of the Fitbit Encourage 2 is the sleep tracker, which helps you to know if you get up all through the night time, how deep or gentle your relaxation is and the way a lot time you spend within the REM cycle. Our tester, a self-professed problematic sleeper, discovered this tracker to be essentially the most snug to put on all through the night time (a problem we had with different trackers, which you’ll learn extra about under). And also you received’t have a lot fear about charging the Fitbit Encourage 2, as it could maintain a cost for as much as 10 days; we by no means wanted to recharge it all through our testing, even after a couple of days of heavy use.
For lower than $100, the Fitbit Encourage 2 is your best option for anybody who needs higher readability and extra strong knowledge about their well being, health and wellness life-style. Every tracker additionally comes with a free yr of the Fitbit Premium Membership, which gives data-driven private suggestions in addition to entry to a whole bunch of exercise movies from Fitbit and meditation and mindfulness classes. We expect that’s loads of bang in your buck.
When working towards a particular well being aim, a health tracker can show important, serving to to self-monitor each day actions and supply motivation to remain in motion. As licensed health teacher DeBlair Tate, who supplied steering throughout our testing course of, put it: “When your progress is tracked precisely and constantly, a sample of outcomes turns into clearer. It gives a way of possession for well being and health targets. Whenever you intention to succeed in these numbers each day, you acquire that achievement of accomplishment that motivates you to create extra targets.”
However how correct, precisely, are health trackers? We did discover some discrepancies in steps — as much as 500 to 800 steps — after we wore two trackers without delay. This was true no matter model. That’s regular, although, since expertise and performance are all completely different. As Keegan Draper, Nationwide Academy of Sports activities Medication licensed private coach and health specialist for Mindbody, defined, wrist straps will differ from hip-mounted trackers and chest or arm straps.
When it comes to steps, he says extra correct measurements would come from a hip-mounted step counter, whereas a wristwatch might decide up on different actions and monitor these. “It is extremely seemingly two completely different trackers give completely different step counts,” Draper famous. “However, general, your each day health tracker will likely be comparatively correct, and having some form of monitor and tracker is best than none.”
- Accuracy: Although numbers will fluctuate, as we explored above, to check accuracy, we wore two trackers without delay and in contrast the outcomes. We additionally in contrast the steps to the included pedometer in our cellphone and examined the built-in GPS to measure distance.
- Readability: Whereas the numbers on all health trackers are pretty small, we famous how simple it was to learn the display — in addition to how rapidly we might look on the display to see our coronary heart fee in the course of a exercise.
- Navigation: All the trackers help you scroll to search out steps, exercise, coronary heart fee and so forth. We rated how simple this was to discover.
- Exercise recognition: For a lot of trackers, it’s also possible to choose what sort of exercise you’re doing earlier than you start for higher monitoring accuracy. Some routinely acknowledge actions, so we examined that too.
- App usability: We rated how easy the app was, what it tracks and the way it offered data.
- Ease of setup: Whenever you’re shopping for a tracker to decrease your coronary heart fee and enhance your well being, the very last thing you need is to be harassed. We checked out how simple and quick it was to comply with directions, obtain the app, connect with Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi and get began.
- Battery life: We recorded how lengthy every gadget lasted on a full cost.
- Compatibility: Many health trackers require you to obtain their very own app, and a few help you sync with different apps, like Apple Well being, Google Match, MyFitness Pal, Peloton and plenty of others. We checked out what number of third-party apps every tracker might pair with.
- Total consolation: The aim of a health tracker is to put on all of it day, and in some instances, all night time. This implies consolation is vital. We rated on match in addition to the way it felt throughout and after a exercise, towards sweat or within the bathe.
- Design: We famous how aesthetically pleasing and numerous the tracker was, together with what number of colours and designs had been accessible.
- Waterproofness: We took every of those trackers into the bathe to make sure they held as much as their waterproof score.
- Guarantee: We famous the guarantee, if any, for every gadget and rated its providing.
- Privateness: We additionally combed by way of every product’s privateness coverage to see how the corporate manages privateness throughout the app and if it shares any consumer knowledge.
Fitbit Cost 4 ($99.95, initially $149.95; amazon.com)
In all transparency, the Fitbit Cost 4 affords each characteristic we appreciated concerning the Fitbit Encourage 2, however we discovered the design of this mannequin to be much less snug. The display and the band are wider, which might really feel cumbersome for somebody with small wrists. Should you’re on the fence about shopping for an Apple Watch, although, that is very related by way of alerts, connectivity to your calendar and messaging, so it may very well be a less expensive various. It’s appropriate with Spotify, so you possibly can hearken to music through Bluetooth headphones whereas exercising, however a premium membership is required.
The display is extra superior than the Encourage 2, which we appreciated, nevertheless it’s additionally simpler to scratch.
Garmin Vivosmart Four With Pulse Ox and Coronary heart Price Monitor in Rose Gold With Grey Band ($106.12, initially $129.99; amazon.com)
When it comes to feel and appear, the 2 Garmins we examined had been much like the Fitbit Encourage 2. They’ve thinner bands in numerous colours and have the swipeable dwelling display. Whereas we most popular Fitbit to trace exercises and steps, Garmin was higher for walks and runs, because it’s recognized for its GPS accuracy and its potential to assist with pacing, from throughout the app. It even gives trails or loops you possibly can comply with in most cities.
Garmin’s app and interface are much like Fitbit however really feel clunkier and harder to navigate. There are numerous sections, together with a each day screenshot, challenges you may give your self, calendar reminders and extra, nevertheless it doesn’t supply the identical community-like really feel or ease of scrolling because the Fitbit app.
The Vivosmart 4 does show reminders to breathe and loosen up in case your resting coronary heart fee appears to be going haywire, which is a useful characteristic, notably in as we speak’s local weather. And if you need your steps to be entrance and heart, you can also make them first in your menu — or, if you need actions, you are able to do that too. It’s as much as you and absolutely customizable.
This tracker additionally claims to have extra superior sleep monitoring, together with REM cycle and blood oxygen saturation ranges through its Pulse Ox sensor. Finally, although, we discovered it uncomfortable to put on whereas sleeping and ended up taking it off midway by way of the night time, so we didn’t get an correct learn.
Garmin Vivofit 4 ($69.94, initially $79.99; amazon.com)
This smaller and cheaper tracker affords most of the identical apps and choices because the Vivosmart, nevertheless it does have one standout high quality that could be engaging for some: a button. Of all of the trackers we examined, it was the one one to supply a button to navigate the on-screen menu. This isn’t a necessity, however for many who favor one thing tangible, it may very well be a decision-making characteristic. Like all Garmin gadgets, this one additionally connects to Google Play, iTunes and as much as 15 different apps, so you possibly can simply combine numerous subscriptions into your tracker. It’s also possible to get a climate studying when you’re attempting to determine whether or not to do an indoor or outside exercise. Our greatest gripe with this gadget, nevertheless, is its dwelling display, which we discovered to be essentially the most tough to learn except we had been in complete daylight.
Withings Hybrid Smartwatch Metal HR ($179.95; amazon.com)
Of the seven health trackers we examined, that is the one one which may very well be mistaken for a watch. And for many individuals, it is a main promoting level. Its display affords a clock, a stopwatch and the entire information conventional trackers have, like coronary heart fee, energy burned and different knowledge. For small wrists, although, we discovered this gadget to be too giant.
With Withings, you obtain its Well being Mate app to obtain data in your coronary heart fee in addition to to trace your weight, actions and sleep. Like trackers, it’s also possible to obtain textual content or cellphone alerts and join it to Amazon Alexa to provide verbal cues. To gather knowledge on health, you scroll to position the tracker in “exercise mode” and choose from operating, swimming and so forth. As a bonus, it additionally claims to trace Ping-Pong, windsurfing, kitesurfing and different distinctive actions. Whenever you’ve completed sweating, you’ll see information on the length of your exercise and energy you expended. And its battery life is without doubt one of the most spectacular we noticed — even after carrying it for a number of days, it by no means fell under 70% cost.
It’s a strong alternative for many who need a bit extra out of their health tracker and are prepared to spend a bit extra.
Xiaomi Mi Band 4 ($39.99; amazon.com)
Although at first look this health tracker seems similar to its costlier opponents, the expertise doesn’t examine. Once we had been organising the gadget, our web browser detected a safety danger and stated the web site was unsafe. Then, after we did obtain the app for Xiaomi referred to as Mi Match, it had considerably much less data than the others we examined. You possibly can see your steps, and you’ll choose between strolling, operating and biking, however the monitoring options weren’t as dependable as others. Plus, the app closely pushes the corporate’s “skins,” that are personalised dwelling screens for the tracker, fairly than specializing in well being and wellness.
The tracker is snug to put on and has a glossy look (although the band is simply accessible in black), however you could take away the watch face to cost the gadget. It’s not an enormous deal and doesn’t take lengthy, nevertheless it’s an added step that different trackers don’t require. Whereas this isn’t the least costly gadget on our listing, we discovered it to have the fewest options — to not point out that its app and web site appear unstable and needs to be up to date to construct belief with shoppers.
Letsfit Health Tracker ($20; amazon.com, presently unavailable)
This tracker was the least costly out of our pool, however we had been impressed with its design and functionally. It’s the one tracker that doesn’t require you to arrange a profile to start utilizing the gadget. Meaning you possibly can take it out of the field, cost it for an hour and get began. It doesn’t have super-advanced knowledge just like the others we examined, however when you merely wish to monitor your steps and your coronary heart fee, it’s an inexpensive method to have a pulse in your well being (no pun supposed). You possibly can obtain the VeryFitPro app to see your stats, however you are able to do so with out giving your e mail or any data.
Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing: