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Whether you're a marathon runner or mall walker, research backs up how wearable fitness trackers can up your fitness game.
There are a few things you'll want to consider to find the best fitness tracker for you within the , though. Most fitness bands and smartwatches keep tabs of the basics—heart rate tracking, sleep cycle monitoring and other wellness metrics—but to really get a device that will work best for you, you need to dig into the specifics.
Whether you're looking for the extra-long battery life of a FitBit Inspire 2, synergy with stress relief and mindfulness apps that you can download to an Apple Watch or a bang-for-the-buck smartwatch that's simple in design but will adeptly track your daily activity like the Xiaomi Smart Band 6, we have you covered. Read on for our picks for the best fitness trackers to suit every taste and lifestyle.
Best Fitness Trackers of 2021
● Best Overall Fitness Tracker: Garmin vivosmart 4
● Best Fitness Tracker with a Long Battery Life: Fitbit Inspire 2
● Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker: Apple Watch SE
● Best Fitness Tracker for Athletes: Whoop Strap 3.0
● Best Budget Fitness Tracker: Xiaomi Mi Band 6
● Best Activity Tracker for Kids: Fitbit Ace 2
● Best Fitness Tracker With a Heart Rate Monitor: Apple Watch 6
● Best Android-Compatible Fitness Tracker: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
Best Overall Fitness Tracker: Garmin vívosmart 4
The Garmin vívosmart 4 is simple when you need it to be and high-tech when you're ready for more. It makes reaching your fitness goals easier with its reminders to move if you've been sitting too long, as well as its activity auto-recognition feature. If you start a workout, the vívosmart 4 will detect it after 10 minutes of activity—a great feature for those of us who are maybe a little absent-minded at times.
What's great about this sleek, simple fitness tracker is that for under $150, you get many of the advanced tracking features of high-end devices:sSleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, water resistance and even connectivity with your smartphone. There isn't a built-in GPS (which would up that price tag), but you can use your phone's GPS if you want more accuracy on your activities.
Best Fitness Tracker with a Long Battery Life: Fitbit Inspire 2
Many of us like to track our activity during the day and our sleep at night. If you're looking for a tracker you can put on and leave on, the Fitbit Inspire 2 has a lot to offer. The battery life can last up to 10 days, and it takes just 2 hours to go from 0 to 100% charged.
At under $100, the Fitbit Inspire 2 has most of what you'd expect from a non-smartwatch fitness tracker, like a heart rate monitor, steps counter, water resistance and calories-burned tracking. The sleep score function is an added bonus, especially since you can wear the tracker all night without worrying about draining the battery. The Inspire 2 will tell you how much shuteye you got and make suggestions for improvement.
One small downside is the narrow, grayscale display screen can be harder to read than other fitness trackers with a screen. Also, there's no GPS, but that helps contribute to a longer-lasting battery.
Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker: Apple Watch SE
Being water resistant isn't unique to the Apple Watch SE. However, we love it because of its fantastic synergy with third-party apps for swimmers, like the MySwimPro app, which was 2016's App of the Year for Apple Watch. There's also Apple Watch's native swim app via the Workout app, which can track pool laps and open water swimming.
The Apple Watch SE is just over $300, which is to be expected with Apple devices. Also, it offers many of the handiest fitness tracking tools, including high, low and irregular heart rate alerts, a never-off altimeter to measure height traveled, fall detection for safety and basic sleep tracking.
Just remember that Apple Watches can only be used if you also have an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 14 or later. So if you're team Android all the way, keep reading to see our fitness tracker pick for Android devices.
Best Fitness Tracker for Athletes: Whoop Strap 3.0
The Whoop Strap 3.0 is ideal for serious athletes. Not only does it come with smart technology that can recognize more than 80 types of exercise, but it also does a deep dive into how your body responds to activity and recovery so you can maximize your workout.
Its high-level metrics tracking centers around three pieces: sleep, recovery and strain. The Whoop looks at how much stress your body is under and will recommend how much sleep you need based on your goals for the next day. It also detects patterns, like assessing what you're eating and linking it to your athletic performance. And when you need a rest day, the Whoop will tell you to back off the exercise.
The Whoop Strap has a subtle look if you aren't big on wearing a smartwatch, and has a five-day battery life that can be juiced on the go with a removable battery pack. One drawback for some might be Whoop's subscription-based business model. So although the Whoop Strap 3.0 is "free," you'll have to pay for an ongoing monthly membership to use your Whoop.
Best Budget Fitness Tracker: Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Not every fitness tracker with smartwatch tech has to break the bank. The Mi Band 6, the latest update from Xiaomi, is under $50. It has a wealth of the same features that are offered by fitness trackers that are more expensive, including Bluetooth, heart rate monitoring, full-color display, blood oxygen saturation tracking and sleep tracking.
Compared to its predecessor, the Mi Band 5, the Mi Band 6 features a 50% bigger screen. It tracks a broader number of fitness activities, including HIIT, core training, stretching and kickboxing. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for; reviewers have noted issues with accuracy on some metrics, and it certainly isn't the most stylish tracker out there. But still, you get a lot more than a basic step-counter with this small-but-mighty device.
Best Fitness Tracker for Kids: Fitbit Ace 2
Sometimes, using fitness trackers makes hitting goals feel like knocking out achievements in a video game. This is a great motivator for kids! The Fitbit Ace 2 uses a simple grayscale interface that tracks time and steps during playtime, making it ideal for kids ages 6 and older.
Fitbit is also mindful of what's best for kids. A lot of the training language Fitbit normally uses is toned down, simply because kids don't need the additional (otherwise typical) fitness tracker features, like heart rate and calorie counting. Because of this, the Fitbit Ace 2 is less costly than other models. With kids' accident-prone tendencies in mind, the Ace 2 also has a durable design and battery life.
Best Fitness Tracker With a Heart Rate Monitor: Apple Watch 6
The Apple Watch 6 goes beyond the typical heart rate monitoring most trackers offer. It has an ECG, or electrocardiogram signal, an app that monitors different heart conditions like atrial fibrillation. If your heart rate drops too low or gets too high, it sends you an alert. This can literally be life-saving.
The Apple Watch 6 also features all the other bells and whistles you'd expect from a smart fitness watch, including sleep monitoring and GPS. And like the Apple Watch SE, there's also great synergy with third-party apps, like Pocket Yoga for yoga on the go and MyFitnessPal for nutrition tracking. All the extras do make this a pricey option, though.
Best Android-Compatible Fitness Tracker: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
With all the attention and market share the Apple Watch claims in the smartwatch sphere, it's hard to believe Samsung was once the industry leader. That doesn't mean it's not gathered a fan following. The Android-powered smartwatch is making a comeback though with the Galaxy Watch series. Our favorite fitness tracker among them: the Galaxy Watch Active2.
The Galaxy Watch Active2, featuring a vivid AMOLED touchscreen display and can track seven exercise categories, including swimming, cycling and rowing. And like the Apple Watch 6, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 has an ECG for heart rate and health monitoring. The smartwatch also has sleep tracking and stress tracking—complete with guided breathing exercises for when you need a little peace of mind.
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