Jacob Little

The best fitness trackers: from FitBits to Garmin running watches

The best fitness trackers: from FitBits to Garmin running watches
Garmin running watch
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With the spring almost upon us, now’s a great time to up your fitness game. Whether you’re in training for a race or sticking to a new year fitness drive, it makes sense to track your progress and keep reminding yourself of how well you’re doing. Mentally, it can be hard to keep at it, so why not employ a bit of tech to help you along the way? Along with their generally more featured and app led cousins smartwatches, these pieces of technology have come a long way in recent years, and with ever evolving health technology, they’re only likely to get more sophisticated and better tuned to your needs.

What kind of fitness tracker is for me?

Larger, and perhaps more cumbersome smartwatches boast many of the features of fitness trackers, but they’re often not designed with exercise in mind. Think about the activities you do on a regular basis – swimming will obviously need a waterproof tracker and many activity bands are waterproof up to 50m. If you run a lot, trackers such as the Garmin options have built-in Spotify music, which comes in really handy if you don’t want to take your phone around. All should have good heart rate monitors, but some have better GPS functions than others. Pay attention to how much you’d like to pay and compare trackers features carefully, as some of the more affordable options offer the same features as the more expensive alternatives.

FitBit Charge 3 – best all-round fitness tracker (from £129.99)

One of the best fitness trackers out there on the market at the moment, we really liked the Charge 3 for its ability to last nearly a week on one charge and be completely waterproof – perfect for those soggy runs in the rain. Like the Versa featured on the smartwatch list, it has Fitbit’s excellent sleep app in-built and it comes with an excellent large screen which gives the information presented clarity and a slick design. We liked how lightweight and thin it is as well.

Huawei Band 4 Smart Watch – best lightweight option (from £39)

Borrowing from sister company Honor, who make budget versions of Huawei models, the Band 4 Smart Watch is similar to the Honor Band 5 and includes step tracking, heart rate tracking and a sleep monitor. It’s an affordable tracker and a good alternative to some other more expensive options on the list. We also really liked the fact that it doesn’t need a charger – it has got a built-in USB for charging on the go without the need to carry around leads.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 – best lightweight option (from £99)

Garmin are a tech leader in a number of fields, including mapping, GPS and navigation and avionic systems for aircraft, so it’s no surprise that many of their devices cater to the slightly higher end of the market and for specific niche sports. Not necessarily the case with the Vivosmart 4 however – at a relatively affordable price this slimline fitness tracker is a good bet for measuring oxygen levels, heart rates and stress levels, as well as being 5ATM waterproof compliant so perfect for keen swimmers.

Moov Now – best for no distraction (from £46)

Let’s face it, having yet another screen strapped to your wrist could be considered distracting, so the Moov Now has done away will all of that, and instead just acts as a band linked up to your devices to give you accurate tracking data after you finish your exercise. Having no screen also means it’s one of the best trackers out there for battery life. The Moov Now has some excellent workout features already installed, and the tracker itself gives you welcome updates when you go for a run, for example, on your cadence (running efficiency – the total number of steps you take per minute) and other technical facts. The Moov Now is a great fitness tracker and excellent value for money to boot.

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music – best running watch

(from £249)

This is the updated version of the popular Garmin 235 running watch, and has for many years proved very popular with dedicated runners due to its accurate tracking, the ability to store music and connect to earbuds. Whatsmore, it even has the ability to connect to a Spotify Premium account so you can stream music on the go – a popular feature for those who have curated hours of running playlists. The battery life is first-rate and we particularly liked the ‘return to home’ feature which will return you to the start of the run using the navigation feature, meaning you can run wherever you like and always be able to find a way back.

OMRON Heart Guide – best medical fitness tracker (from £499)

Expensive it may be, but there’s something a little extra to the OMRON Heart Guide and the technology alone is worthy of it’s inclusion on this list. It’s the first ever wearable blood pressure monitor, with some of the most accurate sleep and heart monitoring on the market. It’s designed to offer proactive steps to improve your heart health, and enable a greater understanding between your day-to-day habits and health.

Fitbit Inspire – best for design (from £89.99)

Fitbit have plenty of trackers on the market to suit different needs and the Inspire and Inspire HR series certainly look the part – with a slim band, a number of different colours to choose from and a snazzy coloured screen which displays with an impressive vibrancy despite its size. It feeds in well to Fitbit’s app and smartphone notification system and has a good battery life. An excellent, simple fitness tracker for those who want to stick with this established brand.

XPLORA Activity Band – best no frills fitness tracker (from £29.99)

Another offering at the lower end of the budget spectrum, this is a good first watch for people new to fitness trackers or for parents to buy for their children to enable them to understand their health better. It lacks some key features and some of the slick operation of some of the others on this list but it’s worth a recommendation for the price alone. XPLORA’s products are aimed at getting the younger generation interested in fitness trackers and health data, and it does what it says on the tin. A good budget tracker.