Fitness trackers have started to gain popularity due to their accessibility and ease of use. And thanks to many new advancements in the technologies employed within these devices, it is now possible to use them to accurately monitor your heart rate. Technologies like optical and ballistic heart rate sensors make keeping track of your heart rate during a run simple and fun, and can give you valuable feedback on your overall fitness.
However, many trackers are not limited to tracking just your heart rate. Most will have a step counter and sleep tracking functions, and others can even alert you when you have been inactive for too long. Furthermore, some trackers don’t even need to be worn on the wrist – devices such as the Fitbit Zip are small and concealable, allowing you to clip it onto your pocket and keep the device completly out of sight.
But fitness tracking is a competitive field, and there are quite a few makes and models of these devices out there. This can make shopping for one a dizzying prospect. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of our favorite fitness trackers.
Additionally, if you are still struggling to make a decision, check out these models below:
Fitbit Charge HR
The Fitbit Charge HR is a solid all-around tracker that is good for day-to-day tasks as well as intense training sessions. It contains an optical heart rate monitor, a built in accelerometer, and an elevation tracker. These sensors are used for tracking your steps taken, distance traveled, and keeping track of floors climbed, respectively.
The Charge HR also features Fitbits new PurePulse technology, which gives you continuous feedback and allows for much easy monitoring of your optimal heart rate zone.
The stand out feature of the HR is that you can also use the track your sleep, although it is a little limited: the device has an automatic sleep mode that will automatically begin recording your sleep the moment you lay down. But it will not record your (REM, NREM) sleep levels. It will however track movement and wake up times.
The Jawbone UP4 is an interesting tracker from Jawbone. It contains a BCG sensor, which monitors your heart rate by reading the ejection of blood moving through your veins. This is a newer style of heart rate monitoring that is starting to become more popular due to its small footprint and ease of use.
This tracker is also very low profile and you hardly notice it while it is being worn. Additionally, the app support is fantastic as well. It has a smart coach feature which will monitor your overall fitness level to give you personalized advice so you can better reach your fitness goals.
The Up4 contains a notable sleep tracking function. Unlike other fitness trackers it has a much more detailed sleep tracking program: the app will show you a detailed view of each level of sleep, such as REM, light sleep, and deep sleep.
Misfit Shine 2
The Shine 2 is a versatile fitness tracker from newcomer Misfit. This is an upgraded version of their original Shine model from 2011 and it boasts new many features, such as a magnetometer (for more accurate movement tracking) and upgraded tracking algorithms.
The Shine 2 also features an upgraded notification system: a series of 12 LED lights around the outside of the sensor face. These will light up sequentially as you approach your goal, and make it very easy for you to keep track of your daily fitness activities.
The interesting thing about the Shine is that it can be removed from its wrist strap and worn as a necklace. The actual sensor itself only measures about 2 inches in diameter which makes it highly concealable and easy to use.
Basis’ Peak is great fitness tracker that has features on par with the low end smart watch. The Peak uses a built-in optical heart rate monitor to keep track of your pulse, and of course has an accelerometer to log your steps and distance.
The great thing about the Peak is that it will automatically detect the type of activity your performing and log it accordingly. This makes it a real hands off fitness tracker, which is nice because it allows you to focus on your workouts instead of fiddling around with functions and settings.
The Peak also allows you to set “habits”, which is basically a reminder system for your daily goals. You can often times set a reminder to run a lap every day, or set up a daily calorie goal. The Peak will then alert you of these habits periodically.
Lastly, Basis saw fit to throw in a thermometer with this device. Although it is only marginally useful, it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
For a budget heart rate monitor you can’t do much better than the FT4. This tracker comes with a wrist worn unit that can display your current heart rate and show you a calorie counter to help you keep track of your calories burned.
The FT4 is useful in that it will provide constant feedback: it will beep when you’re the correct heart rate zone also when you fall out of it. This is great for staying on track during intense cardio sessions.
The only downside to the FT4 is that it is not optical style heart rate monitor. The device records your heart rate by a separate chest strap sensor, which can be a little uncomfortable due to its bulkiness. However, chest strap heart rate monitors are more accurate than wrist based ones so this can be a worthwhile trade off.
The FT4 is also lacks the basic fitness tracking functions found in other trackers. You will not be able to track movement based metrics, such as steps taken/distance traveled.
Keeping physically fit can sometimes be a challenge. But fitness trackers can make exercise easy and fun, which can make it easier to stay in shape. So what are you waiting for?