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