Staying active is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, but keeping track of your daily activity can be difficult on your own. That’s where wearable fitness trackers come in handy, with all the data you need to support your health goals. From tracking sleep, to calorie burn, to your fastest mile time, each fitness tracker comes with its own set of helpful metrics to measure your progress.
Maybe you’re skeptical that a small device on your arm could make a difference in your fitness routine. But in fact, studies tend to agree that fitness trackers have a positive impact on physical activity. Researchers at Brigham Young University found that simply wearing a fitness tracker may increase time spent walking. The study reports that subjects who wore a fitness tracker walked an average of 318 more steps per day than those without one. Interestingly, this held true even if the subjects weren’t working toward a particular fitness goal or incentive, and even when they couldn’t see the step count the pedometer kept.
Another study by scientists at the University of Southern Australia reports a connection between wearable activity trackers, exercising more, and losing weight. Study authors reviewed nearly 400 studies encompassing 164,000 people living all over the globe who had been using wearable activity trackers (WATs) to monitor their physical activity. Their findings reveal that these tracking devices encourage people to walk up to 40 minutes more per day (roughly 1,800 more steps). This results in an average weight loss of 2.2 pounds over the course of five months.
Research from the University of Minnesota agrees with these sentiments, finding that fitness trackers help overweight people shed pounds and reduce the risk of deadly illnesses including cancer, type two diabetes and heart disease. Using data from 31 previous clinical trials, the study specifically looks at the impact of fitness trackers on overweight and obese participants with related health conditions. Trackers were worn from four weeks to a year with the volunteers having to set and meet goals. These were based on daily steps or reaching at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity – usually brisk walking. All devices helped the users to lose weight and reduce their BMI.
Clearly, adding a fitness tracker to your exercise routine can help boost your activity and deliver better health outcomes. But with so many wearable smart devices on the market, choosing the one that best meets your needs can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why StudyFinds did the research for you, searching 10 expert websites for the best fitness trackers on the market. This list includes the most frequently recommended devices, but if you have a favorite that we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Fitness Trackers, According to Experts
1. Fitbit Charge 5
With great battery life, ECG monitoring capabilities, and water resistance up to 50 meters, the Fitbit Charge 5 is a great buy for anyone looking to get a better understanding of their fitness performance at a moderate cost. “The Fitbit Charge 5 is Fitbit’s latest tracker and it has a number of exciting features usually reserved for more expensive devices, such as an ECG heart rate monitor,” says Tom’s Guide. “If you’re looking for a tracker that looks beautiful against your wrist, is easy to read in the bright sunlight and has some impressive features for the price tag, this is a good buy.”
When it comes to tracking your workouts, the Charge 5 is sure to impress. “The Fitbit Charge 5 is a fitness tracker built with gym-goers in mind. It boasts onboard GPS so you can track walks, runs and bike rides without carrying your phone and start monitoring them automatically when it detects that you’re on the move,” TechRadar notes. “It also has dedicated tracking modes for a wealth of indoor activities, from weightlifting to spinning, and you can pick your five favorites for quick access at the touch of a finger. Again, that means less time spent scrolling and more having fun working out.”
“The Fitbit Charge 5 captures the flag as the best overall fitness tracker because, in many ways, it serves as the template from which all other trackers are created,” boasts Forbes. “The Charge 5 represents the culmination of everything Fitbit has learned about making wearables over the years, and includes pretty much everything the average person needs in a fitness tracker.”
2. Apple Watch Series 8
If you love the look and function of Apple products, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a no-brainer. With ever-improving capabilities including heart rate monitoring, automatic workout detection, and GPS, the device acts much like a fitness tracking extension of your iPhone. “Apple really does offer best-in-class when it comes to health and safety features,” claims Live Science. “In the Series 8, you’ll find an ECG monitor that can detect abnormal heart rhythms, a blood oxygen monitor and sleep tracking too. There’s also an advanced gyroscope for fall detection, as well as ovulation tracking for those with a menstrual cycle. These are all features that you can find in other trackers, but in our experience the heart-tracking capabilities of Apple outstrip its competitors.”
Perhaps the most well-known feature of the Apple Watch is its iconic rings. For those who need a little extra push to get moving, they serve as a great reminder of your goals. For a small monthly cost, users can also access digital workout classes to switch up their workout routine. “Its Activity, Exercise, and Stand rings can help motivate you to get moving, while its companion Fitness+ workout streaming service ($9.99 per month or $79.99 per year after a three-month trial) offers a variety of studio-style classes with excellent music and instruction for the home or gym,” explains PCMag.
Of course, one of the main draws of an Apple product is the easy integration of the Apple ecosystem. “The Apple Watch also embraces all the handy smart features too, like Apple Pay, applications and text notifications,” Forbes notes. “The design on the watch face is sleek with rounded edges and durable glass that feels smooth when you use the touchscreen. As with other Apple products, it takes a few hours to understand how it works, but once you do, the interface is fluid and seamless.”
3. Whoop 4.0
Technology lovers and trendsetters alike will fall in love with Whoop 4.0. The screen-free device stands out from the crowd both in look and function, with insights on rest and recovery that are sure to attract the most dedicated of fitness enthusiasts. “The Whoop band focuses on recovery and heart rate, to help you get a better overall picture on how hard you’ve been training,” explains Tom’s Guide.
“What you get is continuous monitoring of an array of health metrics including heart rate, skin temperature and heart rate variability, as well as in-depth sleep tracking. This data is used to produce three digestible daily scores; strain, sleep and recovery,” says Live Science. “The simplified strain, sleep and recovery scores allowed us to train smarter at a glance (taking rest days when needed to boost our recovery) while the well-presented app provided plenty of in-depth data for stat fiends to sink their teeth into.”
This device is unique in many ways, with the band itself not being the item that is purchased, but rather, a monthly subscription. And without the traditional metrics of step count and calorie burn, the Whoop 4.0 is a far more niche product for committed athletes. If that sounds like you, you’d probably love this tool. As Forbes puts it, “because recovery is one of the most important elements of any training plan, the Whoop is one of the most useful tools for serious athletes and provides a solution to the ever-present question ‘Should I push through my workout or take a rest day?'”
4. Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 7
For the fitness lover on a budget, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 7 is an excellent buy. For less than $100 dollars, you get workout statistics, sleep tracking, and nearly a week of battery life. “For $54.99, this fitness tracker is hard to beat for the number of features,” Live Science claims. “The Xiaomi Smart Band 7 has joined the flock of one of the most popular wearable brands in the world, offering users features often reserved for premium-priced wearables.”
“For around $50, the Mi Band 7 is the best value fitness tracker on this list,” states CNET. “It has a large color AMOLED touchscreen, 24/7 heart rate and sleep tracking. Battery life is also great, with about six days of use before needing to charge.”
If you want most of the features and function of a typical wearable tracker at a mere fraction of the price, this is the choice for you. As TechRadar says, “not only does it monitor steps, heart rate, and workouts, but it also offers a pulse oximeter for tracking blood oxygen saturation, plus all-day stress tracking. This is measured by monitoring heart rate variability, which is less sophisticated than the EDA scanning used by the Fitbit Charge 5 but still works well for monitoring trends.”
5. Fitbit Inspire 3
Are you just diving into the world of fitness monitors? If so, you’ll likely appreciate the simplicity of the Fitbit Inspire 3. With all the basics and none of the more complex data of its peers, it’s the perfect first step into tracking your fitness performance. “If you’re aiming to develop healthier habits and want a device that will give you a gentle nudge to get there, the Fitbit Inspire 3 could be the best fitness tracker for you,” says TechRadar. “It’s not overly complex, but has all the essential features to keep you moving and motivated and is extremely simple to use.”
The Inspire is a great way to encourage an active lifestyle without causing a huge interruption to your existing routines. Its simple appearance makes for an easy addition to your wardrobe, and its long battery life means you don’t have to constantly worry about putting it on the charger. “The Inspire 3 is definitely the more fashionable out of the two Fitbit devices on this list. Its interchangeable bands let you switch up the look and feel of your tracker whenever you want, and it’s slim enough to blend in with other jewelry you might be wearing,” Engadget notes. “We were also impressed by its battery life: Fitbit promises up to 10 days on a single charge, and that checked out for us. After four days of round-the-clock use, the Inspire 3 still had 66 percent battery left to go.”
Perhaps best of all, the Inspire is among the most affordable options on our list. “For $100, you’ll get Fitbit’s Active Zone Minutes metric, 10 days of battery life, touch controls, and, in the biggest update from the Fitbit Inspire 2, a bright, beautiful AMOLED screen,” lists Tom’s Guide. “It won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking for an affordable fitness tracker, you can’t go wrong with the Inspire 3.”
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links and is an updated version of a post first published in October 2022.