Shopping Guide for Best Fitbit Fitness Trackers. No matter what your fitness level is, it always seems like we want to get a little bit healthier. But even if you’re eating plenty of veggies and drinking enough water, committing to a healthy lifestyle also means staying active.
Unfortunately, with a busy schedule, staying on top of how much – or little – you’re moving each day can be a challenge. That’s why fitness trackers are so handy!
These convenient devices do all the work of tracking how many steps you’re taking throughout the day, how far you’re walking, and how many calories you’re burning, among other things. You’ll get value out of a fitness tracker if you do no more than making sure that you’re wearing yours when you leave the house each morning.
While there are many brands of fitness trackers on the market, Fitbit is the best known. They offer many different models, so there’s bound to be an option that can help you reach your specific fitness goals.
But that variety creates a bit of a problem: if you’re new to Fitbit, it can be nearly impossible to know which one to choose when you’re shopping.
According to Fitbit fitness trackers, the most famous activities among their users are running, biking, strength training, elliptical workouts, and yoga.
How Does a Fitbit Work?
To track your activity, Fitbit fitness trackers utilize a 3-axis accelerometer to follow your movements. An accelerometer converts motion, or acceleration, into digital measurements when you’re wearing the tracker.
By compiling this data, the tracker can give you a detailed account of the frequency, duration, and intensity of your activity. Because it uses a 3-axis accelerometer, a Fitbit is much more accurate than an old-fashioned, single-axis pedometer.
Though extra functionality varies, depending on the device, most Fitbit tracks:
- Calories Burned
- Steps taken
- Distance traveled
- Quality of your sleep
Benefits of a Fitbit Fitness Trackers
A Fitbit tracker makes you keenly aware of how much you’re moving and how many calories you’re burning each day. It also allows you to set goals, such as 10,000 steps a day, and because you can easily see your progress, it provides extra motivation to make sure that you reach that goal number.
You also don’t have to remember to log your workouts. The Fitbit will do it automatically, so you always know exactly how long and how hard you’ve exercised.
The Fitbit app also allows you to track your water and food intake, as well as your weight, so it’s easy to get a complete picture of your fitness journey. If you have a tracker with a heart rate monitor, you can also get more out of your workouts by seeing how hard you’re working and pushing yourself a little harder if necessary.
Considerations: Clip-on vs. Wristband Tracker
Fitbit fitness trackers come in two main styles: a clip-on device and a wristband model.
The clip-able devices are usually small so that you can clip them to your pocket, bra strap, or waistband. They’re an ideal option if you already wear a watch or don’t like to wear anything on your wrist. However, they’re only available in limited colors, such as black and burgundy.
The wristband style Fitbit trackers fasten to your wrist on an adjustable band. They vary in size from extremely slim to somewhat bulky, depending on the model.
The wristbands come in a variety of colors, and unique bands are available for separate purchase. You can even buy some jewelry for the band-style trackers, including bracelets and necklaces. Click here to purchase wristband accessories.
Considerations: Screen vs. No Screen
Most Fitbit fitness trackers have screens that display the fitness data that’s been recorded. You just press a button to scroll through the information while you’re wearing the device.
Some screens are more significant than others, though, so they’re easier to read. If your vision isn’t perfect, you should look for a Fitbit with a larger screen.
Some Fitbit also have touchscreen capabilities to make them even more user-friendly.
Other Fitbit models don’t have a screen. Instead, a series of lights alert you to calls, texts, and goals that you’ve met, but you have to access the Fitbit app on your smartphone to see the exact numbers for your actions that day.
Considerations: Battery Life
All Fitbit trackers have a rechargeable battery that you can charge with the included cable. However, the battery life for the models isn’t necessarily the same.
Some models have batteries with a life of up to six months on a single charge, which makes it extremely easy to track your activity consistently. Other models can go seven to ten days without needing to be recharged, though there are some trackers whose battery life is only five days.
In general, the larger and more sophisticated the Fitbit is, the shorter its battery life will be.
Considerations: Fitness Categories Tracked
All Fitbit fitness trackers record steps were taken, distance covered, and calories burned. Many also track how many flights of stairs and active minutes you have each day. Some track specific workout types, such as hiking, running and bicycling, rather than just necessary steps. The Fitbit trackers that also have smartwatch features can provide workout summaries and the pace for your workouts.
General Features (varies by model)
Clock (most models)
- Most Fitbit trackers feature a watch, so you know what time it is as you go about your workout. It also allows you to track the specific duration of an exercise, and, of course, replaces a non-fitness wristwatch.
Music Controls (select models)
- For anyone who enjoys listening to music during a workout, Fitbit with music controls can be convenient for managing your playlist. Instead of dragging your smartphone or iPod out of your pocket to adjust the volume or change the song, you can do it through your Fitbit’s display screen without missing a step.
Reminders to Move (select models)
- Staying committed to being active means avoiding prolonged periods where you’re just sitting or lying down. Some Fitbit fitness trackers provide reminders to move each hour, so you can make a point to take a walk around your office or to the corner store. In most cases, the tracker will vibrate to let you know that you haven’t met the activity goal for the hour yet.
Sleep Tracking and Silent Alarm (select models)
- Part of a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep, so many Fitbit models offer sleep tracking.
- These trackers let know how many hours of sleep you’re getting each night. You can also set a silent alarm to wake you in the morning; your tracker will vibrate to let you know that it’s time to wake up. It’s an excellent option for getting yourself out of bed without disturbing anyone else.
- Some trackers provide more detailed sleep monitoring information, such as how many minutes you were awake and restless during the night. That can help you see how good night’s sleep you had.
- The silent alarm feature is a great way to start your day without disturbing someone else’s sleep.
Heart Rate Monitor (select models)
- For serious fitness tracking, choose a Fitbit with a heart rate monitor.
- These trackers use LED lights to detect blood volume changes, which are then run through algorithms to measure your heart rate automatically.
- The monitors indicate several different heart rate zones, such as resting, fat burning, cardio, and peak. Using these zones, you can ensure that you’re getting the most out of your workout by pushing yourself into the peak zone for high-intensity training.
- The heartbeat monitor works best when the Fitbit is worn snug to the skin, a few inches above your wrist.
All Fitbit fitness trackers are water-resistant to some extent. That means you can splash or sweat on your monitor without worrying about damaging the tracker. However, you can’t use most of the models to track swimming. If you’re an avid swimmer, select a Fitbit that is specifically marketed as swim-proof. That’s the only model that can be submerged in water.
Smart Features (select models)
If you want a fitness-oriented smartwatch, Fitbit offers a couple of options that will meet your needs. Unlike the traditional Fitbits, these models have unique smart features that integrate more thoroughly with your smartphone and provide functionality beyond fitness tracking.
GPS (select models)
If you’re an avid runner or biker, your Fitbit’s GPS capabilities allow you to track the route that you take during a workout. As a result, you’re able to get an extremely accurate measurement for the distance you’ve covered, as well as the pace.
After your run, you can even see a map of your route, overlaid with your speed and heart rate during different segments.
Call, Text, and Calendar Notifications (smartwatch models)
- If you sync your phone with your Fitbit smartwatch, you’ll receive call and text notifications on your tracker. In most cases, the wristband will vibrate to alert you of an incoming message and then flash the call or text info across the display.
- It can be an especially helpful feature if you need to stay in touch with your family or office during a workout because you won’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket to know who’s trying to reach you.
- A smartwatch Fitbit model can also alert you to appointments on your calendar, so you don’t miss any important meetings.
- Smartphone integration allows you to see incoming calls and text messages on your Fitbit display, as well as control your smartphone’s music.
Onscreen Workouts and Guided Breathing Sessions (select models)
- When you need help coming up with an effective workout routine, a Fitbit smartwatch tracker can come in handy.
- The tracker offers on-screen workouts that require little or no equipment. They can be done in a small space so that you can do them almost anywhere. The onscreen work out function requires a constant internet connection, though, so you’ll usually need access to Wi-Fi.
- In addition to workouts, some Fitbit fitness trackers models also offer guided breathing sessions to help you relax. You can choose from 2- and 5-minute sessions that help slow your heart rate and lower your stress levels.
- Research shows that guided breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety—and can even lower blood pressure. With personalized guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate, Charge 2 makes it easy to find moments of calm throughout the day.
Better Calorie Burn Tracking (select models)
Losing, gaining or maintaining weight is about math: calories in vs. out. By measuring how hard your heart is working—both all day and during workouts—you get a better measure of total calories burned. So, even if your favorite heart-pumping activities don’t affect your step count, you’ll still get the right credit for your effort.
Optimize your time spent on exercise (select models)
Tracking heart rate during workouts can help you maintain the right intensity, find a sweet spot for pace or avoid overtraining. During workouts, use Fitbit’s heart rate zones to gauge how much effort you’re exerting and see if you should dial it up or dial it back. Afterward, check your workout summary in the Fitbit app to view your time in each zone and to follow improvements over time.
Resting Heart Rate (select models)
Day-to-day, it can be tough to tell if the hard work on your health is paying off. Resting heart rate can be a great indicator of the changes to cardiovascular health, so you can see if you’re improving over time.
- Know what’s normal: For most people, resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute.
- Follow your progress: A decrease in resting heart rate typically indicates your cardio health is improving.
- Get a better reading: Wear your tracker while you sleep for a more accurate number.
Your heart has a big job to do! With every beat, it pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Count up those beats in one minute, and you’ll get a sense of just how many the task takes. The fewer beats your heart makes during periods when you’re awake and relaxed, the better. In other words, the stronger, more efficient the pump, the lower your resting heart rate (RHR).
Get a better understanding of your fitness level. See how it compares to people of the same age and gender with a personalized Cardio Fitness Score from Fitbit Charge 2. Get a snapshot of your cardio fitness and note changes over time. See how increasing exercise or achieving a healthy weight can improve your fitness level.
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Fitbit Purepulse™ Continuous Wrist-based Heart Rate, https://www.fitbit.com/purepulse (accessed October 29, 2017).
5 Best Fitbits – Oct. 2017 – Best reviews, http://bestreviews.com/best-fitbits (accessed October 29, 2017).