The world of fitness trackers is a fast moving one and if you’re anything like us, you like to know what’s available.
With technological advances, many fitness and health trackers on the market are able to monitor all three of these parameters and provide valuable insight into the health of the person wearing the tracker. One of the most useful metrics they collect is your RHR (resting heart rate) a reading taken when you are relaxed, most typically first thing in the morning.
Any data they capture will then be synced with an app on your smartphone, tablet or PC, and there you'll find a more detailed view of your activity. You might also be able to add friends that use the same brand of fitness tracker to compete against, but not every fitness tracker offers this. Pitting yourself against others can be extremely motivational.
We’ve looked into some of the popular wearables that are available.
Garmin’s latest exercise tracking watch records your runs, rides, steps and swims using GPS or an accelerator. The rear of the watch features an optical sensor that uses a light to measure blood flow, which is processed by an algorithm to create HR (heart rate) data. The watch displays HR and RHR but these are better displayed on Garmin’s Connect smartphone app where you can see historical data. The watch also had a recovery adviser feature, this advises you how many hours you should wait before exercising again. When running, the watch will also produce a V02 max (the maximum value of oxygen you can use) score, which they claim is 95% accurate when compared to lab tests.
You need to wear the watch 24/7 to get an accurate RHR reading. Wearing it on and off, or only using it when exercising, will affect the averages the software calculates.
It’s one of the more expensive wearables available however, saying that, it’s a powerful tool for tracking and improving your sporting performance – probably one of the best sports watch on the market – but for simple monitoring of your RHR you might be better off using a smartphone app.
The new Apple Watch Series 2 takes the main complaints about the original - slow operation, lack of GPS, lack of official waterproofing, short battery life - and solves or at least improves them systematically. If you're into fitness tracking with a sprinkling of notifications and superb integration with the iPhone, this is an almost perfect wearable for you.
Stylish and sleek, Misfit broke from the traditional design of its circular Shine tracker to offer something a little more discreet. The Misfit Ray offers steps and sleep tracking, all within Misfit's sleek and clean app. It delivers the fitness and sleep tracking you need to stay motivated, including steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, activity tagging, and sleep duration and quality. It also never needs charging and is water-resistant to 50 meters, so it can be worn constantly. That means more data, better insights, and more powerful motivation.
• Monitor sleep duration and quality
• See steps taken and distance traveled
• Tag specific activities, like cycling or yoga
• Track calories burned
• Take selfies, control lights and music
• Get vibration alerts for calls, texts, and alarms
The Misfit Ray has a cylindrical design that makes it one of the more stylish activity trackers available. It comes in six different colours: Carbon Black, Rose Gold, Navy, Forest, polished Stainless Steel or polished Stainless Steel Gold. Each has multiple band options too, including a leather option if you'd prefer that to the default plastic.
It’s a slimmer version of other Fitbit models like the Blaze or Surge, but for about £80 this fitness tracker will count your steps, calories, let you log your food through the app and you can even go swimming with it.
The Flex 2 comes in several colors and you can get it in the metallic bracelet or pendant of your choice if you want to wear it as jewellery.
It works using a little sensor you can pop into the top pocket of any of the provided wristbands, which come in size small or large. The sensor’s battery lasts up to five days before needing a recharge but it’s pretty easy to power up again by just popping the sensor out of the wristband and putting it in the provided recharging station.
Like the original Flex, the Flex 2 also tracks sleep and can record your workouts. A nice bonus is that it’s also water-resistant up to 164 feet. That means you can take it in the shower or go swimming with the device.
the Withings Go keeps things simple. The motion sensors will give you step count, distance and calories burned. There's no altimeter here, so you can't track elevation. But that step goal can also be adjusted within the phone app.
From a motivational perspective, the Go is pretty limited. There are no inactivity alarms to remind you to keep moving and it doesn't adjust goals like Garmin's trackers to push you to move further than the previous day.
The Go is water resistant up to 5 ATM (so 50 metres), and that does mean you can take it swimming. It also has the ability to automatically track swimming, which we'll talk a bit more about later.
Charging is not something you need to worry about with the Go. That's because it runs on a simple coin cell battery, the kind that you'll find inside the Misfit Flash, most analogue watches or inside a heart rate monitor chest strap. You can expect to get eight months of tracking before you need to replace it, and it'll cost you around £5 for a set from Amazon so you won't have to break the bank to power it up again.
The Viviosmart HR+ has the usual pedometer for measuring steps but also includes a heart-rate monitor to better track more vigorous exercise and a barometer to track altitude changes as well. The HR+ model even includes built-in GPS for phone free running. Many fitness bands will identify incoming calls on your phones, but the Vivosmart will also display text messages and any notifications that appear on your phone from apps. You can even control music playback from it as well.
The Garmin app and website are great, especially if you take your exercise a little more seriously. The Vivosmart HR+ offers a great mix of activity, heart rate and GPS tracking, which makes it a no-brainer for those thinking about a Fitbit, but non-plussed by the idea of taking a phone along for a run.
It offers up around a week of battery life, is good when it comes to notifications and it's water resistant to about 50m – although the lack of a swimming mode is disappointing.
Moov Now is a small, round element that you clip into a strap to wear around your leg and pair with a smartphone. The aim of the game is advanced sports training plans, at which it excels, with actionable running, swimming and cycling data aimed at making you better at the sports you love.
The band boasts ever-increasing levels of difficulty which offer a gradual but tangible improvement curve, and with both running and seven-minute workout included, it has all bases covered.
Even better news is that Moov Now – the second generation product – also works as a daily step and sleep tracker, making it a decent activity band when you're not busting out interval times.
What’s your experience with fitness trackers and what would you recommend?