Best ac­tiv­ity track­ers

If you want to get se­ri­ous about your health and fit­ness goals th­ese ac­tiv­ity track­ers can help.

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Fit­ness track­ers, which are also called ac­tiv­ity track­ers, ac­tiv­ity mon­i­tors or fit­ness bands, are like high-tech pe­dome­ters that can count your steps and then es­ti­mate the dis­tance you’ve trav­elled and the calo­ries you’ve burned.

The big­gest ac­tiv­ity brand in the mar­ket is Fitbit, so we’ve also rounded up the best Fitbit track­ers, but be­low you’ll find more gen­eral advice, and the best track­ers from any man­u­fac­turer.

You can use fit­ness track­ers to mon­i­tor your ac­tiv­ity, but the gen­eral idea is that they spur you on to ex­er­cise more, help­ing you to get fit­ter and/or lose weight. Many are great for mon­i­tor­ing your sleep, too – which is be­ing re­garded by med­i­cal ex­perts as a key health in­di­ca­tor.

Most fit­ness track­ers have a dis­play that shows you steps and calo­ries in­for­ma­tion, and of­ten the time too, and they tend to be worn on the wrist like a watch or clipped onto your clothes.

Any data they cap­ture will then be synced with an app on your smart­phone, tablet or PC, and there you’ll find a more de­tailed view of your ac­tiv­ity.

You might also be able to add friends that use the same brand of fit­ness tracker to com­pete against, but not ev­ery fit­ness tracker of­fers this. Pit­ting your­self against oth­ers can be ex­tremely mo­ti­va­tional, and we rec­om­mend Fitbit as the best for this – award­ing badges and set­ting chal­lenges, plus of­fer­ing ex­pert per­sonal train­ing advice on the higher-end mod­els.

Bear in mind that fully fledged smart­watches also of­fer fit­ness track­ing but it tends to be ba­sic so very few have made it into this chart. If you like the idea of track­ing ac­tiv­ity with a smart­watch that also does other cool things like no­ti­fi­ca­tions and apps, check out our best smart­watch chart.

You might also find his­tor­i­cal data in the app that will tell you whether you’re im­prov­ing.

All ba­sic fit­ness track­ers should be able to mon­i­tor steps, dis­tance cov­ered, calo­ries burned and ac­tive min­utes. Some might also have a clock so you can tell the time, although some are sim­ply a se­ries of LEDs that give you an ap­prox­i­ma­tion rather than the ex­act time.

More ad­vanced fit­ness track­ers will add fea­tures like sleep track­ing, a built-in vi­brat­ing alarm, a barom­e­ter to mea­sure height climbed, heart-rate mon­i­tor­ing, ses­sion record­ing for var­i­ous sports and more.

Few are com­pletely wa­ter­proof, but vir­tu­ally all can with­stand sweat and rain. We’ve also rounded up the best ac­tiv­ity track­ers for swim­mers in case you want one that can with­stand water pres­sure bet­ter.

Some also have built-in GPS, but that will add to the price tag and take from the bat­tery life. With­out it, though, keep in mind that you’ll need to take your phone with you on a run to ac­cu­rately record dis­tance and the route you took.

Bat­ter­ies in non-GPS fit­ness track­ers can range from a few days to sev­eral months de­pend­ing on their power source and they type of tracker you opt for.

As well as the fit­ness tracker it­self, the app it uses is a cru­cial piece of any ac­tiv­ity mon­i­tor. For some, the soft­ware can even be more im­por­tant than the hard­ware. Why? The soft­ware pro­vides ex­tra fea­tures, such as the abil­ity to com­pete with friends, track food and drink in­take, mon­i­tor your weight and more.

Con­versely, some apps can be lim­ited or poorly de­signed which could dis­cour­age you from us­ing the fit­ness tracker at all. Among the best apps are from Fitbit and Mis­fit, as well as Ap­ple.

How much should I spend on a fit­ness tracker?

The cheap­est track­ers worth buy­ing can be found for as lit­tle as £20 to £40, with the most ex­pen­sive cost­ing over £350. That means there’s some­thing in the chart be­low which will fit your budge

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