HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FITNESS TRACKER FOR YOU

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There are many different types of fitness trackers you can use today. And gadgets with new features are coming onto the market all the time. There are pedometers to track your daily steps. And there are more elaborate gadgets which can track your steps along with a host of other things, such as calories burned, heart rate, sleep patterns, and milestones on the way to your goals.

Given that there are so many options, it can be hard to choose the right tool for you. The trick is to choose the tracker that will be most helpful to you as you work toward better health and fitness. So before you buy, consider which of the following features you are looking for in a fitness tracker:

  • Step counter: This feature tracks the number of steps you take. The steps can be tracked daily or in other time blocks to help you reach your goal.
  • Distance traveled: This feature measures how much distance you cover when you exercise. This can be very helpful for walkers, runners, or even cyclists.
  • Altimeter: This feature measures when your activity takes you up stairs or hills. This can give you a better idea of how much energy you use.
  • Weight: Some gadgets sync with a scale to track your weight and BMI.
  • Calories burned counter: This feature calculates the number of calories you have burned during an activity.
  • Heart rate sensor: This feature tracks your heart rate while you exercise. This helps you keep your heart rate in the range that is best for you and your fitness goals.
  • Sedentary time monitor: If you have been inactive too long, this feature has an alarm or pop-up message that will remind you to get up and move.
  • GPS feature: This feature can track your location and distance for walks, runs, hikes, and skiing. You can also enter routes you want to follow.
  • Progress toward goals: This feature is designed to show you how close you are to your daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
  • Custom workouts: This feature helps you put together workouts geared to your goals and fitness level. You can choose the kinds of activities to include.
  • Sleep quality: Sleep plays a big role in your overall health and also affects weight loss. If you can track how well you are sleeping, you can make changes to improve your sleep.

When choosing a fitness tracker, there are also other—more practical—features to consider. Here are some other questions to ask yourself before you buy.

How much does it cost? Simpler gadgets, like a standard pedometer, have fewer features. But they also tend to cost less. The more elaborate gadgets offer lots of features—and a higher price tag. Simple pedometers may cost less than $20. More involved trackers can cost more than $200.

Is it waterproof? Do you swim or surf? If so, you’ll probably want a fully waterproof device. Some devices are water resistant, meaning they can handle a little water. But if you do a lot of water sports, you’ll likely want a device that you can fully submerge.

How is it worn? Some tools are designed as a wristband or bracelet or they come in the form of a watch. Do you find that convenient or easy to wear? Others can be clipped onto clothing or shoes. If you choose that style, you may want to check if the clip is sturdy and easy to attach. And also consider whether or not you’ll remember to move the clip to your clothing or shoes as you dress each day.

Will it work with your computer or mobile device? Most of these gadgets sync wirelessly with an online or mobile app. This lets you track your data online or on your phone. Some work only with certain operating systems. So check before you buy that the gadget you are considering will pair well with your other devices.

How long is the battery life? Some use an actual battery, so you’ll need to buy replacement batteries and change the battery every now and then. Other devices can be charged. How long the battery lasts varies by device.

Do you like the app’s features? All of the data that your tracker collects gets stored by the app. The app can help you make sense of that data. Some apps also have other features. Some have a nutrition component. For instance, they might let you enter the food you eat. Some have a social component. They can help you connect with friends who are using the same app. You may be able to share your progress or compete against each other. Some apps also have a reward component. This may give you extra motivation to keep working toward your goals.

Do you like the screen display? Some display very little information. Others may be able to display a great deal. Also consider whether or not the screen is large enough to read easily. Or do you prefer those tools that use LED lights as a display?

Once you’ve found a fitness tracker that meets your needs, you’ll be ready to start tracking your fitness data. Doing so may help you monitor how you are doing as you work toward your fitness goals. It may also help motivate you to start and stick with an exercise routine.