3 Reasons to Try Using a Fitness Tracker—And How to Choose the Best One for You
Turns out, some fitness tech may be worth the hype. Learn more about the health benefits of fitness trackers, plus get some options to meet your needs.
If you find yourself stuck at home more, you're likely missing lots of things about being out and about. One thing you may not have realized your body is missing, is the ways you would typically get steps in throughout the day. The trip to the kitchen may be shorter than it would be in the office. Maybe you would have had a short walk from where you parked your car, but now you no longer commute daily. Even running weekly errands might have added to your step count, and you may be doing fewer trips to stores in person.
Regardless of if you are missing movement you would typically get or just want to boost your physical activity levels, a fitness tracker may be a worthwhile investment. But with over 420 devices available, how can you know what to buy? And what is really worth the money? We dove into a few reasons to give a fitness tracker a try, plus ideas for which may best suit your lifestyle and goals.
3 Health benefits of fitness trackers
1. Reminder to move
If you work in front of a computer, especially if you are working from home, it can be hard to remember to take breaks to move your body during the day. A fitness tracker can help with that. Many fitness trackers will prompt you with a reminder to move if you have been stationary for too long. Studies have shown that even the act of wearing a watch can be enough of a reminder to move, which ultimately boosts fitness. However, if you don't want to shell out the cash for a watch, set an hourly reminder to get up on your phone or computer to get the same effect.
Fitness trackers don't magically provide health benefits, but they may directly benefit your motivation to exercise. A 2019 review study in the American Journal of Medicine found that wearing a fitness tracker played a role in boosting motivation and accelerating physical activity, which led to health benefits including weight loss. Research has also found these effects are especially pronounced if you are working towards a specific fitness goal, rather than just generally trying to improve your overall health.
3. Great for all age groups
Regardless of your age or ability, you may find benefits from using a fitness tracker. One recent study found that using a tracker motivated older adults and made them more curious about ways to quantify their movement. This was even more significant for those who went on to use the trackers long -term. Another study in the Journal of Indexing & Metrics showed that fitness trackers were effective for college students. They found that fitness trackers boosted the students' knowledge and perceptions of wellness, which in turn increased their activity levels.
How to choose a fitness tracker?
If you're in the market for a fitness tracker after learning about those benefits, how do you decide which one is right for you? The best fitness tracker for you depends on several factors, including how much you exercise, your goals, your familiarity with technology and your budget. Here are a few watches for everyone from beginners to gurus.
The best for: beginners on a budget
The Vivosmart 3 Fitness Band from Garmin is perfect for someone who is just dipping their toes in the waters of fitness tracking. It is stylish, simple and easy to use. Not to mention, it is the most affordable watch on our list. This watch will track your steps, floors climbed, calories burned along with sleep and stress. It also has a built-in heart rate monitor and syncs with your smartphone. It doesn't include a GPS, so it is a better choice for gym-goers versus a serious runner or walker. Buy it on Amazon.com for $54.99.
Another great option for beginners is the Fitbit Inspire Fitness Tracker. It tracks everything from steps and distance to calorie burn and even tracks your sleep. It is also the most affordable of the Fitbit products and comes in a sleek design. Buy it on Amazon.com for $90.
The best for: amatuers ready to up their game
If you are already familiar with fitness tracking and are ready to up your game, the Apple Watch Series 3 is perfect for you. It includes a GPS, is waterproof and easily syncs to your other Apple products. This watch may be the most pricey, but it goes beyond exercise to track your sleep, heart rate, elevation and more. It can even store music and podcasts to keep you entertained while you sweat. Plus, you can check your texts and email on this watch. Buy it on Amazon.com for $179.
The best for: watch gurus wanting an upgrade
If you are a hardcore tracker and exercise aficionado, try out the Garmin Vivoactive 3. This beloved watch is touted by several professional athletes for its multisport capabilities. It has a GPS, is waterproof and has 15 preset modes for different sports including yoga, skiing, swimming, running and more. This tracker connects to bluetooth for easy activity sync and even gives you smart notifications from your phone. This is the most versatile and detailed fitness tracker on our list. Make it yours and buy it on Amazon.com for $119.99.
To be clear, tracking your fitness should not be your only measure of health, especially if you find yourself getting preoccupied with the numbers. However, some people find it motivating and a good way to stay on track with regular exercise. Whether you are a beginner looking to see what the hype is about or a long-time user, fitness trackers can help you be healthy even from home.