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 formidable health group round their merchandise, permitting folks to attach with others who’re additionally on a mission to drop extra 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 consultants.
Although each Fitbit fashions we tried excelled throughout our testing, the Encourage 2 was slimmer and easier 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 vulnerable to bumps and scratches, so in a method it felt much less shatterproof than others. A number of the different trackers, just like the Fitbit Cost, had been simply barely larger, however nonetheless sufficiently big to note the distinction. (We concede that consolation is wholly subjective, however we in the end discovered the slimmer Encourage 2 much less obtrusive whereas sporting and due to this fact suppose it could be comfy even for these with smaller wrists. For these searching for extra heft and barely bigger faces, the Fitbit Cost 4 or Garmin Vivosmart 4 is likely to be extra best.) 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 passed off inside the Fitbit app, which is accessible 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 info, together with your top and whether or not you’re sporting 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 a different way based mostly on which hand you’re utilizing (although we didn’t discover a big distinction in monitoring after we examined on totally 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 private home web page robotically shows a semicompleted circle of what number of steps you’ve taken for the day. A fast scroll will present you lively 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 present 24/7) at dwelling, we discovered to be extremely useful; on a number of events, the characteristic (which you can even discover on the Garmin and Withings trackers) gave us the immediate we wanted to pull ourselves out of our seat and stroll upstairs or seize the pup for a fast around-the-block jaunt.
Fitbit claims that it could robotically 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 periods); 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 advised us precisely after we had been in our most lively, fat-burning mode and after we had been at relaxation. We discovered this info to be useful, primarily because it provides perception into what number of further energy to burn to satisfy targets.
Probably the most vital — and attention-grabbing — options of the Fitbit Encourage 2 is the sleep tracker, which helps you to know while you get up all through the night time, how deep or mild 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 comfy to put on all through the night time (a problem we had with different trackers, which you’ll be able to learn extra about beneath). And also you gained’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 just a few days of heavy use.
For lower than $100, the Fitbit Encourage 2 is the only option for anybody who desires higher readability and extra sturdy knowledge about their well being, health and wellness life-style. Every tracker additionally comes with a free yr of the Fitbit Premium Membership, which supplies data-driven private suggestions in addition to entry to a whole lot of exercise movies from Fitbit and meditation and mindfulness classes. We expect that’s loads of bang in your buck.
When working towards a selected well being purpose, a health tracker can show very important, serving to to self-monitor each day actions and supply motivation to remain in motion. As licensed health teacher DeBlair Tate, who offered steerage throughout our testing course of, put it: “When your progress is tracked precisely and constantly, a sample of outcomes turns into clearer. It supplies a way of possession for well being and health targets. Whenever you purpose to achieve 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 directly. This was true no matter model. That’s regular, although, since know-how and performance are all totally different. As Keegan Draper, Nationwide Academy of Sports activities Drugs licensed private coach and health specialist for Mindbody, defined, wrist straps will differ from hip-mounted trackers and chest or arm straps.
By way of steps, he says extra correct measurements would come from a hip-mounted step counter, whereas a wristwatch may choose up on different actions and monitor these. “It is rather possible two totally different trackers give totally different step counts,” Draper famous. “However, general, your each day health tracker can be comparatively correct, and having some type of monitor and tracker is healthier than none.”
- Accuracy: Although numbers will range, as we explored above, to check accuracy, we wore two trackers directly and in contrast the outcomes. We additionally in contrast the steps to the included pedometer in our telephone 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 may look on the display to see our coronary heart fee in the midst of a exercise.
- Navigation: The entire trackers mean you can 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, you can even choose what sort of exercise you’re doing earlier than you start for higher monitoring accuracy. Some robotically acknowledge actions, so we examined that too.
- App usability: We rated how easy the app was, what it tracks and the way it introduced info.
- 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 burdened. We checked out how simple and quick it was to observe directions, obtain the app, connect with Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi and get began.
- Battery life: We recorded how lengthy every system lasted on a full cost.
- Compatibility: Many health trackers require you to obtain their very own app, and a few mean you can 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 may 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 essential. 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 system and rated its providing.
- Privateness: We additionally combed via every product’s privateness coverage to see how the corporate manages privateness inside 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 provides each characteristic we appreciated concerning the Fitbit Encourage 2, however we discovered the design of this mannequin to be much less comfy. The display and the band are wider, which may 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 might be a less expensive various. It’s suitable with Spotify, so you’ll be able to 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, however it’s additionally simpler to scratch.
Garmin Vivosmart 4 With Pulse Ox and Coronary heart Fee Monitor in Rose Gold With Grey Band ($106.12, initially $129.99; amazon.com)
By way of feel and look, the 2 Garmins we examined had been just like the Fitbit Encourage 2. They’ve thinner bands in varied 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 skill to assist with pacing, from inside the app. It even supplies trails or loops you’ll be able to observe in most cities.
Garmin’s app and interface are just 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, however 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 priceless characteristic, significantly in immediately’s local weather. And in order for you your steps to be entrance and heart, you can also make them first in your menu — or, in order for you 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 via 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 provides most of the similar apps and choices because the Vivosmart, however 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 choose one thing tangible, it might 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’ll be able to simply combine varied subscriptions into your tracker. It’s also possible to get a climate studying for those who’re making an attempt to resolve whether or not to do an indoor or outside exercise. Our greatest gripe with this system, nonetheless, is its dwelling display, which we discovered to be essentially the most tough to learn until we had been in whole daylight.
Withings Hybrid Smartwatch Metal HR ($179.95; amazon.com)
Of the seven health trackers we examined, that is the one one which might be mistaken for a watch. And for many individuals, this can be a main promoting level. Its display provides 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 system to be too giant.
With Withings, you obtain its Well being Mate app to obtain info in your coronary heart fee in addition to to trace your weight, actions and sleep. Like trackers, you can even obtain textual content or telephone alerts and join it to Amazon Alexa to present verbal cues. To gather knowledge on health, you scroll to put the tracker in “exercise mode” and choose from working, 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 period of your exercise and energy you expended. And its battery life is without doubt one of the most spectacular we noticed — even after sporting it for a number of days, it by no means fell beneath 70% cost.
It’s a stable alternative for many who desire 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 appears similar to its dearer rivals, the expertise doesn’t examine. After we had been organising the system, our web browser detected a safety threat and mentioned the web site was unsafe. Then, after we did obtain the app for Xiaomi referred to as Mi Match, it had considerably much less info than the others we examined. You possibly can see your steps, and you may choose between strolling, working and biking, however the monitoring options weren’t as dependable as others. Plus, the app closely pushes the corporate’s “skins,” that are customized dwelling screens for the tracker, fairly than specializing in well being and wellness.
The tracker is comfy to put on and has a glossy look (although the band is simply accessible in black), however it is advisable to take away the watch face to cost the system. It’s not an enormous deal and doesn’t take lengthy, however it’s an added step that different trackers don’t require. Whereas this isn’t the least costly system on our listing, we discovered it to have the fewest options — to not point out that its app and web site appear unstable and must 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 system. Which means you’ll be able to 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 for those who merely need to monitor your steps and your coronary heart fee, it’s an inexpensive strategy to have a pulse in your well being (no pun meant). 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 info.
Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing: