If you want to get in shape this summer, the best fitness trackers and best activity trackers will help you lose weight and boost your health. Each wristband, watch and heart rate sensor in our round-up has its own particular strengths, and you’ll find exactly what you need whether you’re into running, cycling or swimming.
Not only are fitness trackers growing increasingly popular, but manufacturers are also equipping them with more and more tracking features. As such, they’re now establishing themselves as essential components of an effective fitness regime.
What’s more, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for an excellent model. The cheapest fitness trackers cost less than £50.
If you're sold on the idea of an activity tracker, but don't know which one to get, we've been testing the best fitness trackers on the market.
Hit the ‘Next’ arrow above to see the first fitness tracker on the list, or select your preferred option from the list below.
Best Cheap Fitness Tracker – Jawbone UP24 – £30 / $70 – A good-looking fitness band with a great app that also takes your diet into account
Best Heart Rate Monitor – Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor – £35 / $50 – An ECG heart rate sensor that's more accurate than most fitness bands
Best Fitness Tracker Under £50 – Moov – £50 / $50 – An unusual tracker that delivers feedback in real time and can be worn on your arm or ankle
Best Fitness Tracker for Social Features – Nike Fuelband SE – £60 / $90 – A fitness band that encourages you to compete against your friends
Best-looking Cheap Fitness Tracker – Withings Activité Pop – £100 / $145 – A stylish activity-tracking watch with eight-month battery life
Best Cheap GPS Fitness Tracker – Polar M400 – £110 / $130 – A GPS tracker that's can monitor fitness across multiple sports
Best Fitness Tracker for Running – TomTom Runner Cardio – £150 / $200 – A waterproof watch with GPS, a heart rate sensor and a stopwatch
Best Fitness Tracking Headphones – Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless – £150 / $200 – A pair of water-resistant headphones with an inbuilt heart rate sensor
Best Fitness Tracker for Sports Lovers – Garmin Vivoactive – £160 / $200 – A feature-rich fitness tracker that looks more like a smartwatch
Best-looking Fitness Tracker – Withings Activité – £280 / $450 – A stunning tracker built from stainless steel, sapphire crystal glass and leather
We’ve moved on a bit from the days when the word ‘tracker’ was synonymous with ‘pedometer’. While step-counting is certainly still useful, fitness trackers are now more sophisticated. They collect lots more data and come alongside dedicated apps that analyse your activities and encourage you to incorporate healthier habits into your routine.
Most trackers include an accelerometer and gyroscope to monitor general movement and record steps, just like a pedometer. Additional standard features include the ability to count calories burned and track sleep patterns.
Beyond these basic capabilities is where things get exciting. An increasing number of trackers are coming with altimeters, which can measure changes in altitude, and are therefore able to track the number of steps you've climbed.
Some also include the ability to log food and water consumption, in order to give you a more comprehensive overview of your lifestyle. The better ones let you scan barcodes for food, or connect to services like MyFitnessPal that do the job for you.
Only the most advanced fitness trackers, which are targeted at keen athletes, carry GPS and heart rate sensors. They’re designed to bring a more accurate experience to users, as well as a generous selection of training options.
The majority of fitness trackers tend to cost between £50 and £200, but there are a number of more and less expensive models. How much you spend depends almost entirely on the level of detail you want your tracker to capture.
If you’re after something basic that will monitor the steps you take and calories you burn as you travel to and from work, you shouldn’t look at shelling out much more than £50. Generally speaking, casual runners who want to improve their general fitness are best off looking at around £100 upwards, while only serious athletes should really go beyond the £200 mark.
Since fitness trackers need to be worn constantly in order to be as effective as possible, design and form factor are crucial areas to think about. They come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes. Watches, wristbands, chest straps, detachable pods and headphones are all available, many of which have digital displays and LED lights.
Needless to say, some undoubtedly look better than others. For example, the beautiful Withings Activité looks equally great at the gym or a dinner party, while the Misfit Flash can be easily hidden away inside a pocket or sock. On the other side, the TomTom Runner Cardio, which is a terrific tracker, is almost offensive to the eyes.
If you want to take your tracker into the shower or go for a swim with it, you need to make sure it's waterproof, rather than water-resistant, because those are two very different things.
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Battery life is also really important. Nobody wants to charge another gadget as regularly as smartphone, and trackers can vary from a few days to close to a year of power, depending on whether they're USB-charged or contain a removable watch battery.
Most of the latest fitness trackers come alongside Android and iOS apps. Bluetooth 4.0 support, which enables real-time data syncing, is available on most phones, but it's wise to consult the relevant specs sheets before dipping into your pockets.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network