If you want an accurate reading of how much you move, how many calories you burn, and other important factors that contribute to your overall wellness, consider investing in an activity tracker. These clever products will help you get moving and get a better idea of how much you actually move.
Most Versatile: Misfit Shine
The Shine by Misfit Wearables is a disc that can be worn on the wrist with a band, as a necklace, pinned to clothing or in the pocket. Priced at around $100, this is one of the most innovative activity trackers available. It has several great attributes:
- Waterproof up to 50 meters
- Battery operation means no recharging necessary
- Easy operation
- Made with aircraft-grade aluminum, making it incredible durable
- Available in a variety of colors
The Misfit Shine syncs with both iOS and Android devices to track both activity and sleep patterns.
As LoveToKnow Exercise's editor, I had the opportunity to try out a Misfit Shine to get a first-person perspective on this activity tracker. Hands-down, this particular tracker wins for most elegant and interesting. The sleek design of the Misfit Shine is perfect for someone who does not want to wear a bulky wristband. I also found the Shine to be accurate in its tracking while worn on wrist; I didn't have the opportunity to try it out using other methods.
Amazon customers give this product high marks, with most customers appreciating not only the functionality but also the sleek design.
Best Low Cost Option: Bowflex Boost
Priced at just under $50, the Bowflex Boost is worn on the wrist throughout the day and tracks both activity and sleep. This activity tracker also has some other interesting attributes:
- Syncs with iPhone 4S (and newer devices) to provide activity and sleep reports
- Battery life up to 11 days before needing recharging
- Social networking capability allows users to share their activity tracking with others
I had the opportunity to try out a Bowflex Boost for this article, and I found it to be quite simple to set up. The band was comfortable and the activity tracking seemed accurate. This is a good, basic activity tracker that is very easy to use.
While Amazon customers appreciate the low cost and comfort of this product, many suggest that anyone wanting extra options may want to try a different activity tracker.
Most Accurate: Polar Loop
The Polar Loop Activity Monitor is a wristband that comes with an optional Bluetooth heart rate monitor for an extra charge, allowing users to accurately track their heart rate during workouts. This provides users with an accurate idea of what their calorie burn and activity level is.
Other features of this activity tracker include:
- Durable design makes this tracker suitable for strenuous activity
- Syncs with iOS and Android devices
- Inactivity alerts let users know when they've been still for too long
Priced around $140 when accompanied by the heart rate monitor (around $80 without), this activity tracker costs a little more than others but provides such accurate tracking, it's worth the extra cost.
I reviewed a Polar Loop for this article and was impressed by the Android program. The Loop was easy to set up and charge, and incredibly simple to use. I also liked how durable the tracker is; I never felt as though it would break, even during some of my harder workouts. Best of all, the heart rate monitor took the tracking to a new level, providing me with an incredibly accurate report of my activity.
Amazon customers also like this tracker, giving it high marks for accuracy and for quick charging time. The ease of use is also a plus for this tracker.
Best for Runners: Casio OmniSync STB1000
The Casio OmniSync STB1000 looks a lot like a traditional athletic watch, but when synced with an iOS device it becomes a sophisticated activity tracker. Available for around $80, this product is designed with runners in mind. Features include:
- Bluetooth, which gives users the ability to manage music from the device, so runners won't have to fumble with their phones
- Tracking capabilities for pace, distance, speed and time
Optional accessories include a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor
I had the opportunity to review this product first-hand and found it easy to set up. I appreciated how the Casio looked less like an activity tracker and more like a sports watch. It worked well for tracking runs, but is not ideal for those of us who want to track all types of activity.
Amazon reviewers like that this product can sync with fitness apps like Abvio Runmeter and Wahoo Fitness. They also like how easy it is to read the screen of the tracker and many commented that there were so many optional functions on this watch that many of them had yet to try them all out.
Best Capabilities: UP24 by Jawbone
The UP24 by Jawbone is an adjustable wrist device that not only tracks activity, but also helps you manage your sleep patterns so you'll awaken feeling rested and refreshed. This tracker also allows users to track their nutrition and activity together. Other important functions of this tracker include:
- Syncs with iOS and Android and connects with MyFitnessPal
- Analyzes your activity and sleep data and provides customized reminders
- Smart Alarm is designed to wake up users at the optimal time based on sleep patterns
- Available in a variety of colors
The UP24 costs around $145.
Reviewers on Amazon largely praise the UP24, particularly for the sleep monitoring and Smart Alarm function. They also say it is durable, even if users have a job where they need to wash their hands frequently. Most like the look of the UP24 as well.
Best for Motivation: Fitbit Flex
The Fitbit Flex is designed to be worn throughout the day and night, even while in the shower, allowing it to monitor all activity and provide feedback. Users earn 'badges' as they reach goals, which are designed to help motivate them to keep moving. Additional features of the Fitbit Flex include:
- Syncs with iPhones and Android
- Compatible with many fitness programs including MyFitnessPal and Sparkpeople
- Multiple users can 'team up' and share stats
- Silent alarm wakes users without sound
The Fitbit Flex costs just under $100 and is available in multiple colors.
Amazon reviewers point out that the functionality of the Fitbit can be quite motivating and is a good tool for people who need some nudging to reach activity goals. They also like how the product is available with two wristband sizes, making it an appropriate product regardless of the user's wrist size.
Best Basic Functions: Skechers Go Walk
Skechers Go Walk Activity Tracker/Sleep Monitor is worn on the wrist and tracks:
- Steps taken throughout the day
- Distance walked/jogged/run throughout the day
- Calories burned throughout the day
- Sleep patterns throughout the night
The Go Walk syncs with iOS devices through Bluetooth technology, allowing users to track their progress and set goals for increased activity. This product is available for around $70.
Amazon customers give the Go Walk mixed reviews. While most customers are pleased by the relatively low cost, some customers had trouble getting the device to sync with their mobile devices.
Non-Wearable Option: Endomondo
Suitable for users who want a social option and who do not want to necessarily wear an activity tracker, Endomondo turns any GPS-enabled smartphone into an activity tracker. Features of this app include:
- Social interaction and activity challenges with the 23 million worldwide users
- Customizable by age, weight and goals
- Maps runs and other activities based on GPS
- Summaries of calories burned, average speed and length of workouts
The basic version of this app is free. A premium version is $3.99 a month or $29.99 a year.
I received a premium version of Endomondo for review. The first time I tried the app I was impressed by how easy it was to get started and was equally impressed by how accurately it later reported my running route and activity level. I particularly liked how it reports weather conditions for outdoor activities, allowing me to later review what affect the outdoor conditions had on my workout.
Reviewers on Google Play praise Endomondo for the accuracy of the GPS reporting and say the premium version is worth the cost. They also like that it supports activities beyond running and enjoy the capability to share workouts via Facebook.
Using an activity tracker isn't only about keeping tabs on your activity levels, although that is indeed an important aspect to these products. Many people find that activity trackers help them get motivated, and plenty of people lose weight and get fit using products just like the ones discussed here. Find the activity tracker that offers the options that you personally find motivating and you'll be well on your way to a healthier you.