Are fitness trackers accurate?

Are fitness trackers accurate?

Through the last few years fitness trackers have grown in popularity. And with the demand for more fitness trackers, the supply has grown as well. Now, there are several brands of fitness trackers and different types. Some fitness trackers are more fashion conscious. Some focus on convenience. Some focus on features. But one thing that all fitness trackers should be is accurate.

So are they? Are fitness trackers accurate? In most cases, fitness trackers are very accurate, though some have been proven to be more accurate than others. Here’s a little information about how fitness trackers track your fitness and which ones are the best. 

Heart Rate Monitoring

When people consider the accuracy of fitness trackers, they mostly wonder about the accuracy of the heart rate monitor. It is important for people who are training with a focus on cardio or people who have heart conditions to keep an eye on their heart performance. It is also a great indicator of performance progression for both serious and amateur athletes.

There have been several complaints throughout the years about accuracy issues for various models of fitness trackers, but most companies have stood next to their technology and have been proven accurate.

One of the more well known complaints were about the Fitbit Charge and Surge. However Consumer Reports tested both of these models at low and high intensities with female and male test subjects and found that the accuracy was always within a 3 beat range, except for one single instance when one of the models recorded 11 beats lower during a high intensity work out.

How Can You Increase Accuracy?

The best way to increase accuracy in a fitness tracker is to get it in the right position. Many fitness trackers use a specialized technology that uses photoplethysmogram to measure a heart rate. This method uses a light to illuminate the skin and read the light absorption rate through blood flow. It can sound a bit complicated, but knowing how it works helps users understand how to make it more accurate.

The light needs to have continual contact with the skin to deliver accurate results, so if you have a fitness tracker on your wrist, it might not be as accurate, if you don’t have it fit snugly and positioned a little higher than the bend in the wrist.

Here are some other options for fitness trackers that aren’t necessarily worn on the wrist. The wrist is the most convenient and probably the most comfortable, but chest straps and armbands may be easier to keep constant contact with the skin.

Chest Straps:

  • Polar H10
  • My Zone MZ-3
  • Garmin HRM Tri
  • Wahoo Tickr X

Armbands:

  • Scosche Rhythm24 HR
  • BodyMedia FIT Advantage Armband Weight Management System

EKG

As of right now, the only fitness tracker that has EKG capabilities is the smart watch Apple Watch Series 4. Though it has been found to be accurate in most cases, it’s limited in what it can tell you. Most EKGs have 12 separate leads that are placed in various strategic areas of the body. This will give you the most accurate read of your heart and can detect several conditions.

The EKG that the Apple Watch has is only one lead, placed on your wrist, of course. This may not be able to detect a heart attack or various other heart related ailments, but it can detect Atrial Fibrillation, a condition that according to the CDC, an estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million people in the United States alone have.

So is it a full on EKG? No. Is it important, and in some cases life saving? Absolutely.

You should, of course, never replace going to the doctor by wearing the Apple Watch. Instead, use it as a way to validate some of your symptoms to a doctor. The watch should be used as an indicator that something is wrong, not a diagnostic.

How to Make it More Accurate?

There are a couple things that will make the EKG reading more accurate, and the training module will explain them before you start the test. One of these things is you should be dry and relaxed. You should be able to be motionless for less than a minute. You shouldn’t do an EKG while exercising or right after. This kind of test is called a stress test and should be done in a professional setting. 

GPS

GPS is a helpful feature on any fitness tracker, especially if you are using a track my friends sort of an app for race check points or safety reasons. However, even with technology as advanced as it is today, GPS can be finicky, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the device.

Shortcuts

You may find that your tracking device takes shortcuts around bends or will have random spots where you know you didn’t go. This is due mostly to there being a period of time where the GPS couldn’t get a good reading and it is trying to smooth it over by indicating the path that it thinks you may have taken. This of course will lead to some pretty big differences in distances.

Weather

Though its role may seem inconsequential, weather can affect the performance of the GPS in your fitness tracker. Sunny days are more accurate than cloudy days by a small margin, but rainy days can add a 3% error to your workout.

Interference

Any kind of interference can be hard for a GPS to work around. If you run in a wooded area, under bridges, overpasses, or even tall buildings, your GPS could be off by a bit. It’s nearly impossible to run anywhere without at least some interference, but most GPS’s can deal with some of this.

Overall, GPS is a great feature on a tracking device, but out of all the features available, it may not be the most reliable one out there. Use your GPS, but use it in conjunction with your other features as well.

Here are some of the best GPS fitness trackers out there: 

  • Garmin Vivoactive 3
  • Apple Watch 4
  • Suunto 9 Baro
  • Coros Apex
  • Garmin Forerunner 935
  • Polar Vantage V
  • Garmin Fenix 5X

Step Counters

As explained in our article about how fitness trackers work, “fitness trackers work by measuring motion. Most employ a 3-axis accelerometer that measures movement in every direction, while some include a gyroscope to measure rotation and orientation. Many include an altimeter to measure altitude.”

So unlike early stages of pedometers that you may have worn on your hip a decade or two ago where you had to enter in your stride in feet and inches, your fitness tracker of today measures your movement based it’s own position. The old pedometers would have a mechanism that clicked and added a step each time it moved up and down. So if you wanted to cheat a little, all you needed to do was shake it.

If fitness trackers today had that same method of counting steps, they would be wildly inaccurate because most people wear their trackers on their wrist. So if you’re carrying a stack of books, and not waving your arm, you wouldn’t have any steps counted even if you walked several city blocks. Or if you were doing an activity like grating cheese, for example, you would have registered for more steps taken if pedometers measured the same way that they used to.

Today’s fitness trackers can measure movement in all directions, making any type of activity trackable. You can rest assured that you are getting an accurate reading of every single activity that you do throughout the day.

Overall, the technology behind fitness trackers is very advanced and impressive. You can keep a fairly accurate eye on everything your body is doing throughout the day, even sleep. Knowing this information will help you have a healthier life by motivating you to push yourself harder each day. In this competitive market, you can be sure that the technology is only going to get more advanced. 

Accessories for fitness tracker (that you may not know)

Accessories for fitness tracker (that you may not know)

No matter, whether you’ve had your fitness tracker for a while or it’s brand new you may be surprised to learn that for certain trackers you can actually buy accessories to help you get more out of it or keep it safe.

Each tracker has different options dependent on the manufacturer so there is no one size fits all list. To help you out, we’ve grouped them into the main categories with suggestions for the best known trackers, of course similar items should be available for the less popular brands too.

Replacement bands

It’s fair to say that some of the straps that come as standard on fitness trackers won’t win any fashion awards. Any fashionistas will be keen to change them up for something a bit more colourful and stylish.

Click here to see at Amazon

Many manufacturers provide devices that have interchangeable straps which can be swapped in and out easily. We particularly like |this lightweight nylon strap for the Apple Watch and this set of 3 bands for the Fitbit Versa.

Screen protectors

Even the most careful of athletes will unintentionally catch their fitness watch on something. Typically, this end up as a scratch on the screen. As a lot of modern fitness trackers are touch screen this can cause problems where you can no longer control your tracker in the easiest way.

This is why getting a screen protector is a great investment. Screen protectors like this one for the Apple Watch and this one for the Fitbit Versa are small sheets of plastic which are placed over the tracker’s original screen.

They usually come in multiples and their main purpose is to take any contact and scratches whilst still allowing you to use your tracker.

Bluetooth headphones

An increasing number of fitness trackers come with the ability to play music either off the device or streamed from services like Deezer. A great way to give your workouts some extra oomph. In fact we wrote an article about that here.

Instead of a headphone jack, which has the potential of being a trip hazard manufacturers have moved towards Bluetooth. A set of Bluetooth headphones will allow you to listen to and in some cases control the playback of music.

If you have an Apple device you might have well seen the AirPods and Fitbit offer similar functionality with the Fitbit Flyers. They are both premium products with prices to match. Those looking for more affordable options might want to check out something like these bluetooth headphones from MPow

Insurance Protection

Not for everyone, but if you’re the type who worries that your expensive device might come to harm. You may well find a solution with a portable electronic accident plan like the ASURION 3 Year Portable Electronic Accident Protection Plan with Tech Support.

There are lots of other options available too. As we haven’t done it ourselves we would recommend spending time researching which one best fits your need and read the reviews.

Is it OK to wear fitness trackers with a watch?

Is it OK to wear fitness trackers with a watch?

Watches are accessories that have been valued for centuries. Some watches have sentimental value. Many watches just look attractive or professional. Even though fitness trackers commonly have a display watch face, they don’t always fill the hole in someone’s heart for accessories that a watch can. So, for all the people attached to their watches, here’s the burning question: Is it Ok to wear fitness trackers with a watch?

The short answer is: you can absolutely wear fitness trackers in conjunction with a watch! There’s no fashion police. However, if you want to wear a watch and a fitness tracker at the same time, it might look a little odd unless done the right way. Here are some ways to wear your watch and fitness tracker and have the best of both worlds.

Non-Wrist Options

Many people like the look of an analog watch and prefer to have a reliable watch that doesn’t need to be charged regularly, and for these reasons, they hold onto their traditional watches. However, you still may want to track your fitness level regularly. Here are some options that free up your wrist from the fitness tracker if you want to keep your day to day watch on at all times.

Ring:

Fitness tracker rings are a more recent addition to the fitness tracker family, and though they may not be as popular as wrist options as of yet, they show some real promise. With this option, you can have constant fitness tracking while working out, sleeping, and just going about your day without the distraction of wanting to check your progress all day long, since there is no screen. Most of the rings are compatible with both Android and iOS, and you can check in through your phone or computer whenever you want.

One of the best benefits of the ring is that it blends in completely. Each brand has different designs that you can pick to best suit your style. No more worrying if your fitness tracker goes with your outfit or if you can wear your analog watch with it. Some of these rings are so stylish they could double as a wedding ring, though you don’t want to get too attached in case you want to upgrade down the line.

Here are some of the great rings on the market today:

  • Motiv Ring
  • Oura Ring
  • ORII Smart Ring
  • Binq Ring
  • Mclear Smart Ring

Chest Straps:

If you are looking to have the absolute most accurate heart rate reading possible in a fitness tracker, then you will want to invest in a chest strap. Even the best smart watches and wrist fitness trackers cannot get as accurate a reading as a chest strap because of the constant movement at the wrist level.

This will obviously be hidden from view, if you want to wear a fitness tracker with your watch.  However, the chest band is not really an option that you will want to wear throughout your day since it’s not as comfortable long term as a wrist fitness tracker. This option is typically only used during a workout routine.

Here are some of the best chest strap fitness trackers:

  • Polar H10
  • My Zone MZ-3
  • Garmin HRM Tri
  • Wahoo Tickr X

Armbands:

Another non wrist fitness tracker option is the armband. Like chest fitness tracker, the armband is typically more accurate for heart rate because of the decrease in friction when compared to the wrist fitness tracker. And similar to the chest strap as well, armbands are typically only worn during exercise, which doesn’t make them a great fitness tracker for daily movements.

Here are a couple of armband trackers:

  • Scosche Rhythm24 HR
  • BodyMedia FIT Advantage Armband Weight Management System

Smaller Fitness Trackers

If you still like the comfort and accessibility of having a wrist fitness tracker, then the above options may not be something that you are interested in. In that case, if you have a special watch that you want to wear regularly in conjunction with your wrist fitness tracker, you can always wear them on different wrists, which will not draw too much attention to them. However, you can do one better and get one of the slimmer options available on the market.

There are a lot of options for slim fitness trackers, so you may want to do a bit more research on this site about which ones are the best. You have a lot of options to search through, so you have a lot of freedom to customize your style to what you want.

Here is a list of slim fitness trackers:

  • Fitbit Flex 2
  • Fitbit Alta
  • Garmin Vivosmart
  • Huawei Band 3 Pro
  • Fitbit Inspire HR
  • Garmin Vivosport
  • Honor Band 4
  • Garmin Vivofit 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Fit e
  • Under Armour Calypso
  • Jawbone Up

There are also many countless cheap options for fitness trackers out there that have varying levels of performance. The list above includes a variety of some of the most highly reviewed fitness trackers. This doesn’t mean that they are all at the highest price point. Getting the right fitness tracker for your needs is something very personal to you. Make sure that you check out all the prices and features and find something that works for you.

Hybrid Watches

Smartwatches tend to be a bit more bulky than your typical fitness tracker, and it would look pretty awkward to wear one of those with another analog watch. The great thing about smartwatches though, is that several of them can take on the look of a typical analog watch. So if you are wanting to wear an analog watch just for the look of it and you didn’t realize there are some very classy looking hybrid watches on the market, check out some of the awesome hybrid smartwatches put out by some great designers.

Here are some of the wristwatch options that function as smartwatches but can look like analogs: 

  • Garmin Vivomove HR
  • Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch
  • Men’s Fossil Q Explorist
  • Withings HR Hybrid
  • Misfit Vapor
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch
  • Fossil Commuter
  • Misfit Command
  • Kate Spade Scallop

Check out our post on fitness trackers that look like watches if you want to find out more.

Disguises

Of course, there are some fitness trackers that don’t even have the look of a wristwatch, which may be more up your alley if you really want to wear both at the same time. These fitness trackers look more like a high end piece of statement jewelry than a fitness tracker. Luckily, stacking bracelets and watches is very trendy at the moment, so you can even put these fitness trackers on the same wrist as your analog watch if you want to without getting any weird looks.

Here are some of the most stylish fitness trackers out there that can pass for a bracelet.

  • Leaf Urban by Bellabeat
  • Staulino Women’s Fitness Watch
  • Misfit Ray Activity Tracker
  • Fitbit Flex 2
  • Moov Now
  • Jawbone Up2

Accessory Bands

If you have come to the bottom of this extensive list and you still haven’t found something that fits for you, consider just getting an interchangeable band for some of the slimmer fitness tracking models.

There are several bracelets, anklets, and bands that will work with these fitness trackers and help them blend in. Some of the most versatile accessories come from third party sellers who are selling bands compatible for the Fitbit Flex 2, so if you’re in the market for a fitness tracker and you want options like this, check out the accessories first.

The fitness tracker game has expanded so much in the last few years that you are sure to find something that you are comfortable wearing every day. And if you want to switch it up every once in a while, find a tracker that has a lot of accessories available. One thing to remember though, is that the next version of the tracker will keep coming out, so if you want to hang on to your specific tracker for a long time and you want a variety of accessories to go with it, then buy what you can now before vendors stop producing them and move on to the newer model.

Are activity trackers safe to wear?

Are activity trackers safe to wear?

Does it seem like everything causes cancer nowadays? Each day it seems as though some food, hygiene product, technology, or activity now has more risks than what meets the eye. So here’s the important question on everyone’s mind: Are activity trackers safe to wear?

The short answer is, there really is no hard evidence that fitness trackers are bad for your health or cause cancer. As technology develops rapidly, it is difficult to say what things affect your health and what things are perfectly safe. Fitness trackers as of right now appear to be safe to use regularly, though it is too early to know and there has not been enough research done. Here are some things to consider when you are debating how often you should wear your trackers.

Why It Could Be Dangerous

There has been some speculation that fitness trackers could be dangerous to your health because, like cell phones, they emit a very minimal amount of radiation. According to the Federal Communication Commision, cell phones, by law in the US, must emit less than 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiation.

Comparatively, a typical FitBit emits 6 watts per kilogram of radiation. While this is a very small amount when you juxtapose it with the cell phone limit, it is still radiation, which might not make you feel very comfortable.

Though cell phones and fitness trackers do emit radiation, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), “cell phones and cordless phones use radiofrequency radiation (RF) to send signals. RF is different from other types of radiation (like x-rays) that we know can be harmful. We don’t know for sure if RF radiation from cell phones can cause health problems years later.

What is known is that the radiation levels are low and that they are not a type of radiation that is known to be detrimental to your health. 

Radiation is put off by many things that we come into contact with on a daily basis and it is impossible to know how much radiation we get unless we constantly have a Geiger counter on hand. While it is always good to limit your exposure to radiation, it is impossible to completely eradicate it out of your life.

Why You Shouldn’t Worry Too Much

Of course, you always want to be as healthy as possible, and being aware of the risks before you consume anything or put anything on your body is responsible, but there is some evidence that fitness trackers are not something to lose sleep over.

According to John Sweetenham, MD of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, “There’s very little evidence at the moment to suggest that there’s a link between cellphone usage and any type of cancer. The numbers of brain cancers we’re seeing have been pretty flat for many years. With widespread cell phone usage, if there was a link, you might expect to see some increase in the number of cases. But there isn’t.

Cell phones produce much more radiation than fitness trackers do, and are held against the head and near vital organs more than fitness trackers, so you would assume that if there is no increase in brain cancer since the cell phone explosion, then there wouldn’t be an increase in cancer due to fitness trackers as well.

Why The Benefits Outweigh The Costs

Having a fitness tracker is the first step to living a healthy lifestyle. If you are more aware of your activity level and feel motivated to do better every day then you are naturally going to make improvements on your health.

Exercising each day, even if it’s only counting your steps or standing and stretching at your desk each time your fitness tracker nudges you to move throughout the day can vastly decrease your susceptibility to many health concerns caused by obesity and heart disease. In fact, heart disease has been the leading cause of death for as long as there are statistics. Cancer comes in a close second with 40% of those deaths caused by tobacco use (not radiation), according to the CDC.

So if people are changing their health habits with motivation from their fitness tracker, it most certainly will be more beneficial to them than the minimal amount of non-ionizing radiation will be detrimental. Of course, there are still things that you can do to limit your exposure if you are still nervous about the radiation.

What You Can Do To Limit Exposure

You can never be completely free of radiation since radon can be found everywhere around us. It is in ultra violet rays from the sun and it can commonly seep into cracks in your basement. The CDC states, “More research is needed before we know if using cell phones causes health effects.” So, though at this point there is no definite answer whether cell phones and fitness trackers cause health problems, you can still reduce your exposure by following some of the tips outlined below.

Sleep

There are a lot of people who really enjoy having the sleep tracker feature as a part of their fitness tracker, but is it something you really need? If you have sleep problems and you want to track how things are going, that’s one thing, but if you are just tracking your sleep for curiosity sake, then this might be a feature you can do without to avoid more radiation exposure.

Taking your fitness tracker off for at least 8 hours a night can help you reduce the exposure without missing anything important that you want tracked throughout the day. It’s also an ideal time to charge it.

Tracker Location

Though the radiation that is emitted from fitness trackers is minimal, you may feel more comfortable wearing it in locations away from your internal organs. This means that the armbands, anklets, wristbands, and rings are all great options to reduce exposure to radiation. The belt clips or chest straps may not be a great option if you are concerned about radiation near your organs.

Other Device Usage

As mentioned before, radiation is emitted from lots of different things and anything with a bluetooth has measured levels of radiation. If you have a tablet, or a cellphone, then you may want to reduce exposure through these devices as well. Always setting your tablet on a table instead of on your lap is one way to be more aware. Using the speakerphone on your cellphone when possible will also reduce the amount of radiation near your head.

Length of Time

One of the really great benefits of having a fitness tracker is that you can track your health throughout the day, even when you’re not working out. You will be able to know how active you are when you are running around doing errands or you can be motivated to work harder if you sit at a desk for most of the day.

Day to day tracking can only be very accurate if you wear it consistently and can compare your results to the other days of the week. However, if you are concerned about exposure, then limit use of your fitness tracker for during your times of exercise.

Communication With Phone

The amount of radiation is really determined by the amount that the bluetooth connection is used in your fitness tracker to communicate to your cellphone or laptop. If you have an option to reduce this or buy a tracker that has no bluetooth, then you may want to look closer into those options. Many people see Bluetooth connection as a plus, but as far as radiation goes, this is the primary source of the surges.

Conclusion

Overall, here are the points to remember from this article: 

  • There is no indication that fitness trackers are detrimental to your health. 
  • Fitness trackers use a different kind of radiation than the radiation that is known to cause cancer.
  • Fitness trackers emit a very low amount of radiation in comparison with other devices that most people use on a daily basis.
  • If you are still concerned about exposure to radiation, there are a lot of options to reduce the minimal amount of radiation emitted by your fitness tracker.

It is always wise to be responsible and aware of anything you could be doing to expose yourself to dangerous radiation. Just remember to consider the sources that you look at when you are researching information about fitness trackers and radiation. There are a lot of sources that use scare tactics, but the ones you can trust are the sources put out by actual scientists.

11 Best Smartwatches For Working Out (in 2019)

11 Best Smartwatches For Working Out (in 2019)

Just when you thought smartwatches couldn’t get any smarter, they did. Each year the top brands of smartwatch developers create new features on their signature watches to make your life more convenient and working out more exciting. Getting motivated to move more and workout harder can be difficult, but your smartwatch will be there for you, giving you nudges in the right direction all day to keep you on top of your activity level.

But how do you know which smartwatch to buy? There are so many on the market right now with varying price points and similar features. It’s difficult to know which one to buy without doing some serious research and comparisons between the different brands and models. Here is a simplified list of all the best smartwatches for working out in 2019. Each has its pros and cons, so they are not in any particular order. Make sure you read the reviews of the ones you’re interested in to see if they have features you want.

Smart watch being worn on wrist

1. Apple Watch 4

Compatibility: iOS
Storage: 16 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE
Battery Life: 1 to 2 days

Pros:

If it were a popularity contest, the Apple Watch Series 4 would be a prime contender. Apple has a way of exciting buyers every year when they come out with their new lines for all their technology in the early fall. Buyers are confident with this company that they will get a great product that is cutting edge, bigger than ever before, and has a sleek, lightweight design. It also has far and away the most storage than any other smartwatch product on the market.

The Series 4 is no exception, especially if you primarily want to use your smartwatch for working out. This device works well for any physical activity including swimming, has a louder speaker than before, and one of the most exciting features is the electrocardiogram. Though this isn’t a replacement for a physical in an actual physician’s office, if you are really health conscious, or working out because of a heart condition, this is a feature you will definitely appreciate.

Cons:

The Apple Watch has a lot of exciting features, and it’s likely that whatever isn’t in the watch already, there is an app that you can download to get what you need. However, some complaints have been that there isn’t a built in sleep tracker, and that you have to download an app for that. It does seem like a minor complaint.

Another complaint among some buyers is of course the price. You get what you pay for, and the Apple Watch is a great product. However, if you are looking for something a little more in a lower price range, just wait a couple months before or after the new year model comes out and you’ll get a significantly lower price for the same great product.

2. Samsung Galaxy Watch

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE (for extra)
Battery Life: 4 days

Pros:

One of the best parts of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is that it has a very easy to learn interface. It’s fun to geek out about different features in a smartwatch, and this watch has many, but if you want to use a watch primarily for functionality without too much work, this is the one for you. People who are and aren’t tech savvy alike will enjoy this watch, especially with its phenomenal battery life. Four days is substantially longer than other smartwatches on the market.

This watch also has a more traditional feel than some other smartwatches available. It has all the technology still but the design doesn’t feel like a phone on your wrist. There are several face designs to camouflage that it is even a smartwatch. It has a rotating bezel, which is one of its customers favorite features. You can easily scroll or switch through apps and emails on the watch without your finger obstructing your view on the screen.

Cons:

Though the battery life is awesome, charging the watch can be a bit of a pain, but when you’re only charging it once or twice a week, it’s not too big of a deal. And also, the battery life will only last 4 days if you don’t change the factory settings. So you can’t have the display always on to tell the time, as one example. It is a bit disappointing that you can’t always have the time on display on a watch.

3. Misfit Vapor 2

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Battery Life: 1 day

Pros:

If you’re looking to buy a smartwatch that isn’t the same as everyone else, then you might want to consider the Misfit Vapor 2. It is a little lesser known than the top sellers, but utilizes a Snapdragon chipset that is used in several smartwatches such as the Fossil Gen 4 watch and Mobvoi Ticwatches. It may not be the most commonly used platform, but it is good enough for some high producing brands.

Another great feature of the Misfit Vapor 2 is that it has GPS, which is great for running, and one of the most sought after features for outdoor runners and swimmers.

Cons:

Many Misfit Vapor 2 Users have complained that though the design is a bit different than some of the more popular brands, it is also a bit more flimsy and delicate as well. If you are interested in using this smartwatch for fashion or day to day activities, this may not be an issue for you. However if your primary use is to track your workouts, you will probably want something a bit more durable.

The Misfit also does not include LTE, which can be a big deterrent for some. For those who are not as tech savvy, LTE is important because it uses cell towers rather than WiFi for data streaming. WiFi is much more limited than LTE and LTE covers about 95 percent of the US. So if staying connected is important to you while you are on the go, this could be a deal breaker. Though, to be fair, there are several very high performing smartwatches that don’t offer LTE, and many that made this list.

4. Fossil Sport

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Battery Life: 2 days

Pros:

Finally, the fashion industry is coming up with a smartwatch that can be a contender among all the tech brands. If you are looking for something that carries all the basics that you want for a fitness tracker and has the design of a traditional watch, the Fossil Sport is the smartwatch for you.

Quick Note: If you are a fan of the retro look we have an article about fitness trackers that look like watches.

A convenient feature as far as smartwatches go, is that you can program the pusher buttons on the side to do whatever you want, even if it’s just a shortcut to your stopwatch. People who like to have exact timing on runs or workouts will be happy to have this.

This watch is small and lightweight, making it a great choice to wear throughout the day, but especially at the gym. The watch face is much smaller than leading smartwatches, and though it may be a bit thick, its casing is aluminum, which makes it lightweight and easy to forget that you are wearing it.

Cons:

As mentioned before, Fossil is primarily a fashion brand, and the smartwatch is a very basic model as far as technology goes. But if you want something that will look good all day long while tracking your fitness at a basic level, then this watch could be great for you.

This smartwatch runs with Snapdragon 3100, which can offer a smooth experience at times, but at others it runs really slowly. When you are using your smartwatch for its fitness features, you want to have something with a fast response rate. However, it doesn’t just affect the fitness tracker features. It can take several seconds for the watch to register the caller ID after receiving a phone call as well.

5. Fitbit Versa

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 2.5 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 3 to 4 days

Pros:

Fitbit are a household name when it comes to fitness trackers, but they steered clear of smartwatches for a surprisingly long time. They now have a couple models on the market including the Fitbit Versa, and they don’t disappoint. These watches are on the lower end of the price range in smartwatches, but you know that when you buy from a company that has been making fitness trackers since the beginning of fitness trackers, you are going to get a smartwatch that is great for working out.

Cons:

The Fitbit Versa, though it is a good smartwatch combined with fitness tracker, it still lacks GPS, which can be a little frustrating if you want to track your outdoor runs or swims. GPS is also a great feature to have to use apps to allow your friends or family track you on a run, especially if you are running a race and they want to show up at checkpoints.

The design is nothing special, but if you’re looking for basic functionality and a lightweight design more than fashion, this watch will still be a contender.

6. Mobvoi TicWatch E2

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 2 days

Pros:

One of the absolute best things about the TicWatch E2 is that it is among the cheapest smartwatches around and has all the basic fitness features that you want and need. It still is waterproof, has a heart rate monitor, GPS for running outside, and a sleep tracker. Though it is a lesser known brand, getting all those health features into a smartwatch at that price is unbeatable.

You can also use the TicWatch E2 in the pool, so swimmers have yet another option for a smartwatch. Like many swim friendly fitness trackers, the E2 can detect the type of stroke, length, pace and many other swimming features that you would want to know about.

Quick Note: Our article on fitness trackers for swimming will guide you through some of the best options to track your water based exercises.

Cons:

This smartwatch leaves something to be desired in the design. It’s not ugly, it’s just nothing special. It doesn’t look traditional or modern–it just has a bit of a generic, bland look to it. It also is not equipped for payments, so don’t leave the house without your wallet if you’re planning on buying something.

The TicWatch also is unable to take a recieve calls because, though it is equipped with a microphone, there is no speaker. You also can ask the watch questions, but will not get any audio feedback, just a screen response. This may not bother you too much, but it could be annoying if you’re used to using these kinds of features with your smartphone.

7. Fitbit Ionic

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 2.5 GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 2-3 days

Pros:

The Ionic was Fitbit’s first attempt at a smartwatch, and though it may have been a bit overpriced to start out, now that the price has dropped dramatically, you can still get a good quality watch for a competitive price.

Fitbit, of course, has been doing fitness trackers for since the beginning of fitness trackers, so this smartwatch has everything you would ever need in that department. On the whole, this watch seems to be a highly upgraded fitness tracker. You can do any activity you want with it and it even provides some coaching, which is a big benefit if you are serious about fitness.

A great feature that the Ionic has is Fitbit pay. It’s very convenient if you need to drop by a store while out on a run or at the gym to not have to tote around your wallet.

Cons:

Though the Ionic is a step up from Fitbit’s previous fitness trackers, it still has a bit of improving to do. The interface is not very fast, which can be annoying if you are using your watch on the go, which you typically will be doing if you are using it for fitness. Convenience is the whole reason to have a device small and travel size to wear on your watch, so when it isn’t operating conveniently, it can be frustrating.

The Ionic also doesn’t come equipped with a lot of apps. It might be a nice smartwatch to start out with, especially if you want it mostly to use as a fitness tracker, but if you want something a little more cutting edge with more non fitness related features, you might want to look in another direction.

8. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music (running)

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 60 MB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 5 days

Pros:

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music really is the smartwatch for runners. This smartwatch may not have as many futuristic details as other fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market, but it certainly has everything a runner would ever want. It measures stride length, cadence, heart rate, balance, and time in contact with the ground. This smartwatch won’t just track your run, but it will coach you to become a better runner.

The design is of a traditional watch, so while some smartwatches look like fitness trackers, this watch will transfer seamlessly from gym to office to night out.

Additionally it has storage for music that you can listen to while offline and water resistance for swimming.

The Garmin Forerunner also has an amazing battery life of 5 days. It might not seem like a big deal to charge your watch every day or so, but if you forget and have to leave it for a while to charge, it can really mess with some of your fitness tracking.

Cons:

One of the reasons why the Forerunner has such an amazing battery life is because it doesn’t have a touchscreen like many of the smartwatches out there. It is primarily a fitness tracker and watch, and though you can move through your apps fast enough, it may not offer everything that you would want in a watch.

Person swimming in open water

9. Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music (swimming)

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 3.5 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 5 days

Pros:

Though there are many fitness trackers that are water resistant now, there aren’t quite as many options for water resistant smartwatches. The Vivoactive is a great option for avid swimmers who want a smartwatch to track their swims. More particularly for Android users who want to track their swims.

The design of this watch, like the Garmin Forerunner is of a traditional watch face, but it has a more sleek design. It has capabilities to track time, distance, and strokes for swimming along with many other fitness activities as well.

Also like the Forerunner, it comes with enough storage space to download songs for offline listening and GPS.

Cons:

This smartwatch is a great choice if you love to exercise through swimming, but the Apple Watch 4 is still a better choice if you want the best watch for swimming. The apps available to the Apple watch are easier to use and more functional, but most of all, the Garmin Vivoactive does not track outdoor swims, while the Apple Watch does. So if you have an iPhone, and the choice is between the two for swimming, you might want to use the Apple product. If you have Android, the Vivoactive is the best option for swimmers.

10. Nixon Mission

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 1 day

Pros:

The Nixon Mission is another lesser known smartwatch, but it is a great option of a smartwatch for working out. It is rugged and durable and very waterproof. It’s waterproof capabilities go to depths of two times that of the Apple Watch 4 and most other waterproof watches on the market.

The Mission has a casing that is thick and you won’t be worried about needing to baby it at the gym. This watch can take a beating, which is perfect if you want to have a smartwatch for working out.

This smartwatch has ski and snow features as well as surfing and swimming features, which makes it a great option for the high adventurer out there. If you are going to be working out or doing any high intensity activities in or out of the gym, this watch will be the one to keep up with you.

Cons:

Many wearers, though they love the durability of this smartwatch, feel that it is altogether too chunky for comfortable, everyday wear. You may enjoy having it as a tracker during a workout, but be less excited to wear it throughout the rest of your days activities. Though it is chunky, it may be for a reason. Many wearers admit that the large buttons on the side were particularly easy to use while wearing skiing gloves.

11. Kate Spade Scallop 2

Compatibility: Android, iOS
Storage: 4 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Battery Life: 1 day

Pros:

Like the Fossil Sport, the Scallop 2 smartwatch was created by a teamwork of fashion designers and technology developers. Though this may not be the typical fitness tracker smartwatch out there, and it might not look like it belongs on your wrist at the gym, the design is one of the best out there for smartwatches.

This smartwatch was made particularly for women, which is a great selling point in itself. Most tech companies will provide a smaller watch band for feminine or small wrists, but the watch face for the Scallop 2 is much smaller as well and just looks quite a bit more feminine and fitting than other smartwatches on the market.

It also comes with Google Wear OS system so it has all the features you would need in a smartwatch for functionality and fitness. It has a heart rate monitor, GPS, and is equipped for Android Pay.

It also comes with a lot of band options that you can change out depending on how you want to use it. It is by far the best looking watch for women on the market.

Cons:

As mentioned before, it is a very nice looking watch and you might be nervous to wear it in the gym, which is a big con if you want it to work out with. However, though it has a high fashion design and name, if you are as careful with it as you would be any other smartwatch, it will work great for you as a fitness tracker as well as a smartwatch.

What To Look For In Smartwatches

There are several different options for smartwatches on the market today and each year there are more coming out, which are better than ever before. There is literally a great watch for everybody. Anyone can find something they like whether it is the price point or the features that they can’t live without.

Durability

When you are buying a smartwatch that you want to use for fitness tracking in particular, there are a few things to consider. You should look for a durable design and materials. Smartwatches are not cheap, and if you want one to last a long time while using it constantly and through rough conditions, you want to get one that can take a beating. Consider the kinds of activities you will be doing, if you are doing them inside or out, and if you need water resistance. If you are unsure of the durability of a smartwatch, consider visiting a store to try one on.

New Versions

Another huge factor that is helpful to know about when buying a smartwatch is when the brand is coming out with a new one. Do some research and find out when the new one is coming out and what kinds of features it will offer. If a new model is coming out in a few months, it may be best to wait until the newest version comes out to buy that. Or if you know the current one is a good model, buying the old version now while prices are lowering may be a good move.

Operating System

Technology can be finicky, but most companies that develop smartwatches work tirelessly to work out kinks in a system. Do your research on what kind of operating system your watch will run on and make sure that if it hasn’t always been a good system, that changes are being made. It is common for some issues to come out right after an update comes out, so don’t write it off completely if there are a few unhappy customers. Take each review with a grain of salt and keep yourself in the know about what updates are coming out.

Conclusion

Overall, there are lots of options for smartwatches that work as fitness trackers and most of them are great products even if they have slightly differing  features. There are fitness trackers to track kayaking, track spinning and of course not forgetting the classic, fitness trackers to track running. No matter what you are looking for you are sure to find a watch that fills your needs and fits your wallet.