Tracking fitness: Which tracker is right for you?

By Marion Fernandez
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For many of us attempting a balancing act between sitting at our computers or indulging in our chosen activity, it makes a lot of sense that fitness trackers have taken off as one of the most popular must-have items you can get. While there are some brands that are better known than others, the fact remains that you are not locked into buying one of these better-known brands. You have options. Depending on your needs, lifestyle, activities, and your budget, there is a tracker out there for you, if you know what you are looking for.

The Runner

Running with a fitness tracker

If you are a runner, regardless of the intensity, you are going to need a tracker that will be able to measure your pace and distance, see your running route, and keep track of your heart rate.

1. Garmin Forerunner

This is the not most budget-friendly tracker, but it is wearable for runs since it is lightweight and comfortable. It uses the Garmin Connect app which will let you see your running progress as well as offer some tips for you. It can document your stride length as well as your vertical ratio, letting you find out whether you can make your runs more efficient.

2. Fitbit Ionic

There are a lot of Fitbits out on the market, and it can be confusing as to which advantages you can get from which model. The Ionic is one of the newest now available, offering a built-in GPS function that is missing on the popular Charge 2. With the Charge 2, you have to have your smartphone with you to keep track of your location. Fitbit’s app is user-friendly and has all of the features that you would look for in running and other cardio activities. Because Fitbit trackers are so popular, you are likely to find a friend or two on the app who you can challenge to up your game.

The Hiker

A tracker designed for the needs of a hiker

1. Garmin Fenix 3 HR

There is no denying that the Garmin Fenix 3 HR is an impressive piece of technology, though you really have to be committed to its features to be willing to spend the high price. The tracker is hard to break, water-resistant, and has two-week battery life. It does all the basics of sleep tracking, heart rate, calorie counting, and steps, but it also acts as a map. It has a built-in GPS, compass, and even a sunrise/sunset function to let you know when it will be dark.

2. TomTom Spark 3 Music

Like the competition, the TomTom offers a long-life battery (3 weeks), it’s waterproof, and has the standard tracker options of steps, calories, and heart rate. The difference with the Spark is that it also holds up to 500 songs, doubling as an MP3 player. Since it can pair with Bluetooth headphones, it is an excellent option to listen to music while on the trail.

The Cyclist

Cycle specific devices have become an integral part of training for many people

1. Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS

The Garmin Edge is specifically made for cycling. It provides in-ride challenges through Strava live segments and is able to report cycling-specific data, including recovery time and your heart rate. It can also work with indoor trainers if you hook up to them. It is not meant as a pedometer, however, so it will not do it all for you, but if you are a dedicated cyclist, it is a good option.

2. Polar V650 GPS Bicycle Computer

This is one of the most popular devices for cycling enthusiasts. It can track your cycle speed, your distance, altitude, heart rate, as well as GPS to see where you have been biking. Its large screen is easy to see and operate and also comes with smart coaching features.

The Swimmer

Swim trackers can monitor things like stroke rate and pace

1. Garmin Swim

I know, Garmin is listed a lot. But they have a lot of trackers designed for specific needs, including swimming. Since most fitness trackers are not made to handle intense exposure to water, a tracker specifically made for swimming is ideal. The Garmin Swim’s downside is that if you are a triathlete, this is not the right device for you. If you are a swimmer, however, it will count your strokes per lap, average pace, and your distance.

2. Timex Ironman Triathlon watch

This is a tracker that will do it all for the triathletes out there. Specifically designed for Ironman competitions, it will track your time in the water as well as your running and cycling time.

The Desk Job

A smartwatch for everyday wear

1. Fitbit Charge 2

The Fitbit Charge 2 is one of the most popular trackers available. If you work at a desk job, it can be hard to realize how long you have been sitting for, but the Charge 2, will let you know. It can give hourly notifications for you to stand up and move around, encouraging you to get your daily allotment of steps. While it can track running and other exercises as well, it is also a reasonable tracker for those who sit most of the day.

2. Misfit Shine 2

With an option to wear it on your wrist or clip it to your clothing, you should be able to wear the Misfit Shine 2 without any disturbance to your day. It will keep track of your sleep, steps, and can give you a variety of notifications that you can control. The design is also attractive as it comes without the boxy or clunky looks of other fitness trackers.

The Easiest on the Wallet

There are many reasonably priced basic fitness trackers available

1. Moov Now

While this tracker looks a little different than some of the others on the market, it is no less helpful. The Moov can be worn on either your wrist or ankle and works for running, cycling, and swimming. The Moov Now acts as a virtual coach, encouraging you to do more. You do have to have your smartphone with you in order for it to work as a coach, though. It’s also affordable, but as a result, does not offer GPS.

2. Jawbone UP3

Affordable and usable, the Jawbone UP3 may be the least expensive tracker that you can get that is not junk. It works with both iOS and Android and can track both your steps and sleep.

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