Fitness trackers come in various shapes, sizes and materials. And they’re made for nearly everybody, whether you’re a serial triathlete or a fit wheelchair user.
Most fitness trackers cost between $50 and $250. More expensive models usually include built-in optical heart rate monitors and GPS.
If you’re shopping for a tracker, here are features that experts and users advise looking for:
1. Ease of use
It shouldn’t take a lengthy manual to understand how the device works, but instructions should be clear and complete enough to easily set it up and use it daily.
2. Distance vs. training gauges
If you simply want to know how many steps you take, look for an all-day tracker. These generally measure steps as well as stairways climbed, duration of the exercise and calories burned. If you want to go beyond measuring distance to get details on the speed, pace and stride associated with your steps as well as the path traveled, look for a training tracker. These models can provide data tailored to swimmers, golfers, skiers, weight lifters or marathon runners.
3. Calorie counter
Some trackers automatically tell how many calories you’ve eaten and even how many of those calories came from carbs, fat or protein.
4. Heart rate monitor
This allows you to control the intensity of your workout. In general, monitors that strap to the chest and transmit information to the tracker are more precise than sensors applied to your wrist.
5. Display size
Bigger displays provide easier navigation through various functions. Advanced trackers show words, numbers and symbols on a watch-face display. Others share data using an LED light display or through an app. When you sync the data onto your smartphone or computer, the tracker’s companion app not only archives the information but also helps interpret and analyze it. Consumer Reports advises shoppers to preview the tracker’s companion app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play to make sure it lives up to expectations.