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Activity Trackers Buying Guide

It's no longer enough to just exercise. We also need to know how much exercise we're doing, and how effective it is. Activity trackers help us monitor the vital statistics related to our exercise of choice, but what do we need to know before we buy one?


Ensuring the activity tracker you want is compatible with the smartphone you use should be a primary consideration. The good news is, most trackers now work on both iOS and Android, but you just never know when an exception will arise. Better to be safe than sorry by checking the compatibility rather than just assuming.

Will it track your exercise of choice?

Are you running or walking? If you are, your tracker will give you a dependable readout, and with the features on top of the line models, such as GPS, the reading should be even more accurate. But for more specific activities like swimming, or aerobic-intensive exercises such as Zumba, or even Pilates, the monitoring may be a little more blurred. Top end models from the big names in activity trackers, such as Garmin or Fitbit, should allow for accurate tracking across the exercise spectrum, including special waterproof models if you're swimming, but as with compatibility, it pays to never assume.

Is it fit enough to last?

As your exercise becomes more vigorous and strenuous, your fitness tracker will have to keep up with the extra demands you're placing on it. Not just in terms of tracking performance and providing reliable readouts, but also in a very physical sense where the construction of your tracker will be tested. A strong strap and buckle, for example, that can withstand the increasing rigours of your exercise regime are very important - in this case, look for a model where the designers of the activity tracker have considered the robustness of the device, as well as its fancy technological features.

A bold display

Being able to track your activity on the run depends on the display function of your tracker. A display that makes you squint, or even stop what you're doing before you can read it, is not ideal if you like to do some real-time monitoring of your daily workout. If you want to stay on top of things mid-routine, look at trackers that give you a clear and bold display. If on the other hand, you're content to wait until you've finished seeing what you've achieved, then display might not be as important a consideration, which could save you a few dollars.

Battery power

A tracker that seems to be on charge more often than it is on your wrist is one that will need to be left at home while you're out exercising. Battery power is a vital part of a good tracker, and while features and apps may drain extra power from the device, many of the premium models compensate with excellent batteries. As activity trackers are made to be worn, a little extra spent on battery power ensures you can use the device more often.

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