9 Best Fitness Trackers | March 2017
- also available in extra large
- syncs with garmin connect mobile app
- inaccurate stair climbing count
- compatible with ios and android
- gives reminders to move
- water resistant but not waterproof
- tracks advanced running data
- can set daily and weekly goals
- stores 10 hours of workout data
|Brand||Adidas Fit Smart|
- gives cardio fitness scores
- tracks floors climbed
- displays real-time workout stats
- requires no charging
- waterproof for swim tracking
- budget-friendly price point
- measures daily calories burned
- long 8 day battery life
- can customize watch face designs
What Makes Fitness Trackers Work?
What a great question. It looks so magical, that simple band on your wrist that converts your every movement into data points for analysis. There's actually a TON of stuff going on inside though, and worth taking a look at:
Accelerometers: these are the nifty sensors that exist in your Wii controllers, your iPhone, and many other devices these days. They measure orientation and - you guessed it - acceleration, and then send these signals to the software so that it can respond appropriately. Some even have a gyroscope inside! Without them, fitness trackers couldn't exist.
Altimeter: Whether you're big into mountain climbing or just trying to take the stairs more often, the altimeter measures your altitude and converts that data into stairs climbed (the iPhone health app assumes a certain number of feet equal one flight of stairs).
Heart rate monitor: Most of the monitors embedded in fitness trackers these days shine a light onto your wrist and track how much light bounces off your blood. Changes in light are then converted into a heart rate.
How Do I Narrow Down My Options?
If you've gotten this far (thanks for reading!), you're probably aware that there are a mind-boggling number of options out there if you'd like to add some data to your fitness (and really, who doesn't want to play with pretty graphs?). Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that you've decided that your smart phone and/or smart watch are too much, and you want a tracker that's independent of all that. Now you get to think through whether you want something you wear on your pants, in your pocket, around your chest, or on your wrist.
Once you've gotten to that point, it's important to think through what type of exercise you'll be doing. Not all fitness trackers are made for swimming, for instance, and you can seriously damage your brand new toy if you aren't nice to it and play by its rules.
Kickboxing more your style? You may need to get two trackers to wear, one on each arm (such as with the Moov Multi-Sport, ranked #2 on our list). If you're training for a marathon or triathlon, you'll need solid GPS data to track those (very, absurdly) long training runs.
Finally, you'll need to assess your level of vanity. Are you going to feel self-conscious wearing something that resembles a calculator watch from the 80s? Does style beget substance on some level?
Be honest with yourself, because unless you wear your fitness tracker every day, it's nothing but an expensive paperweight. If you'd rather go for something that fits on your pants or in a pocket, assess whether you are the type of person who will always remember to take it out of your pocket before putting your clothes in the laundry.
Finally, make sure the tracker's app works with your phone's operating system! While the vast majority of apps are now available on Android and iOS, it's always good to double check.
Fitness Trackers Are Way Old
You whippersnappers out there may not believe me, but once upon a time, fitness was tracked.... with a pencil and paper. Yep, you read that right: our athletic ancestors had to figure out their split times themselves. Be glad you live in the 21st century!
While this seems like a truly late 20th/early 21st-century concern, the pedometer - the fitness tracker's ancestor - was conceptualized as far back as Leonardo da Vinci. The drawings above show a pendulum that would swing in time with one's steps.
Later on, Thomas Jefferson had a mechanical pedometer, and he sent it to James Madison with instructions for how to set it up (spoiler alert: it was way more complicated that clipping it to your waist).
Speaking of which, when did 10,000 steps become the norm, anyway?
Amazingly enough, devices were sold in Japan in 1965 by one Y. Hatano, who asserted that 10,000 steps was the ideal amount of fitness and caloric expenditure to ensure healthiness.
The goal stuck in the collective hive mind not because of some massive scientific study, but because the name, Manpo-kei, was catchy. 50 years later, and nearly every device out there assumes you have a goal of 10,000 steps.