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Which fitness tracker is right for you?
Whether you’re getting or giving this season (or both), here’s what you should know
After a year-and-a-half working from home, many of us will have “get fit” as our top New Year’s resolution, which means fitness trackers will be in high demand this holiday season. But you might be wondering, which fitness tracker is best for me — or for someone on your “nice” list?
Some of the leading makers of fitness tracking devices have launched new models in the past few months, and there are approximately umpteen-hundred different options to choose from. But they can be divided up into a handful of categories based on a person’s needs and wants. We’ve picked a recommendation for the best fitness tracker in each category that will work perfectly as a gift for someone else, or as a motivational tool for you. But before we dive into those, a couple of notes:
Aaptiv, the extraordinarily comprehensive exercise app that is available at no cost with Haven Life Plus, a rider for the Haven Term policy for eligible policyholders, works seamlessly with many fitness trackers, whether you want to run a marathon or do a quick workout at home.
Also, in these pandemic times, many fitness trackers now have oximeters, but we would suggest that if you’re worried about either your oxygen level or the possibility that you’ve got Covid-19, you should be running out for a rapid test, not running out for an actual run.
In this article:
If you want a straight-up fitness tracker
Fitbit Charge 5
If what you want to get from a fitness tracker is, in fact, fitness, there’s plenty to be said for Fitbit. Their trackers don’t have a lot in terms of apps, notifications and other smartwatch features, but they’re great (and accurate) when it comes to heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, fitness and workout details — they can record 20 different kinds of activity. One of the popular fitness features for this wearable device is accurate sleep monitoring. Your Fitbit is able to track your sleep by monitoring your blood oxygen level throughout the night. The sleep tracker capability not only gives the wearer an overview of sleep quality, but it also outlines each night’s cycles and sleep pattern. The Fitbit app is user-friendly and widely used, meaning you can easily join a community of other Fitbit users, which can be useful when you need a little encouragement or friendly competition. You can also opt for Fitbit premium which has even more activity tracking features to help meet your fitness goals.
The Charge 5 is Fitbit’s newest tracker and, in the spirit of being more about fitness than multitasking, it does not have the Spotify support that was available on its predecessor, the Charge 4. If that’s a dealbreaker, the Charge 4 is still available (and a little cheaper). What the 5 does have (and the 4 does not) is several new features that Fitbit has either added or will soon be adding: an electrodermal activity sensor (known as an EDA) for detecting stress (available now) and an ECG sensor which monitors signs of atrial fibrillation (still to come). This takes the Fitbit heart rate monitor feature to a whole new level.There will also be a Daily Readiness score which will assess three different factors — fatigue, heart rate variability and recent sleep — to let you know how ready you are for exercise.
The Charge is reasonably-priced, but it has a few features, like GPS, that are usually reserved for pricier competitors. The Zone Minutes feature encourages people to try out high-intensity workouts; the “outdoor workout” category is for the opposite kind of activity: walks, hikes and golf. Overall, the Fitbit is a strong choice for measuring your daily steps (pedometer), physical activity, calorie burn, and heart rate tracking.
While the Charge 5 is our favorite, be sure to research other Fitbit fitness band models like the Fitbit Inspire, Fitbit Versa, and Fitbit Ace.
If you want an entry-level smartwatch
Garmin Venu Sq and Sq Music Edition
Next on our best fitness tracker list, we have Garmin. If you want something with a more watch-like appearance and features than the Fitbit, but don’t want to break the bank, an extra 50 bucks or so will get you a Garmin. Their entry-level Venu Sq and Sq Music come in a wide range of colors and track an equally wide range of activities. For people who haven’t exercised for a while and wonder “Am I dying or just out of shape?” there’s an oximeter, along with heart rate and stress monitors. Whatever you want to monitor, the company is known for tracking with precision. Both versions of the Sq play music, but the Music version stores your tunes onboard, which could be useful if you’re going off the grid. And if you go way-way off the grid, you may find the barometric altimeter and gyroscope useful as well. Like Fitbit, Garmin also has a fitness community called Garmin Connect that allows users to track, compete, and interact with other Garmin wearers. Like the other fitness tracker on our list, Garmin watches come in a wide variety of models and prices. Some other popular Garmin devices to check out are the Garmin Fenix and Garmin Vivosmart.
If you’re an iPhone user
Apple Watch (obviously)
If you or your giftee are Apple fans, there’s a good chance an Apple Watch will be your tracker of choice. A key point of difference between these and more traditional fitness trackers is that each Apple Watch series is made with multitasking in mind. Is it useful to get smartphone notifications, emails, use your “phone” and essentially have a computer on your wrist while you work out? Or does that distract you from exercise and create a situation where you’re always on the clock and can never tune out the constant barrage of information that defines modern life? That’s up to you, but the Apple smart watch is certainly feature-packed: Most iPhone apps are available on the watch and optimized for its screen. Speaking of the screen, its always-on mode shows distance, heart rate and other stats without needing to be tapped. The fitness watch tracks most kinds of workout including swim tracking (though not with the same level of granularity as some dedicated trackers) and it also sends smart notifications and encourages users to stand/ move every hour and do other things that don’t count as a “workout” but will stop you from atrophying completely during the work day.
If you’re buying your first Apple Watch, it makes sense to get the latest version. But if you already have a recent model, there’s little point in upgrading. The latest version (the Series 7) does have a better screen and a few new features compared with other recent models, but the changes aren’t radical.
If you are an Android user
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
If you want to avoid reaching for your phone but still need its features when you’re exercising, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is for you. As with an Apple Watch, the screen is easy to read and the watch tracks a range of workouts, including swimming. It also encourages activity and has automatic workout detection — whether that will kick in if you’re running to catch a train will depend on how serious you are about catching it. The Group Challenge Train feature can be thought of as Fitbit-esque: it allows users to join with friends or strangers to engage in competition to remain motivated.
If you’re a serious runner
The Coros Pace 2
While all fitness trackers monitor running, dedicated runners may benefit from a GPS watch designed with them in mind. The reasonably-priced Coros Pace 2 has 15 activity tracking modes for different kinds of running, quick GPS pick-up. running-specific metrics like power, and a feature for making training plans. Route tracing is good and battery life is remarkable – 20 hours in standby or 30 hours with GPS activated. It will also track swimming, since even serious runners occasionally need to change up their routine.
About Michael DavisRead more by Michael Davis
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
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