While many people associate digital devices with living a pretty unhealthy lifestyle, a good fitness tracker can encourage you to get off the couch and get in shape. Not all of them are created equally, however. Some fitness trackers are simple heart monitors that have a few extra tricks up their sleeve while others are highly sophisticated gadgets that connect to your smartphone and tell you when the weather will be right for a brisk bicycle ride.
Many are geared towards gym rats, which is great if you plan to pump iron every chance you get. You might instead look into trackers that are designed to show how many calories you burn when you’re engaged in any physical activity if your goals are a bit more modest.

We put together these tips to help you find the style of tracker that’s right for you.

Battery Life

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While researching battery life is among the least fun aspects of owning fitness trackers, this can really pay off. You don’t want something that’s going to die on you during your next marathon. However, if you always work out at your local gym you shouldn’t pay more for a device that holds more charge than you’ll use. You may have seen kiosks selling a bunch of similar-looking trackers. Some vendors ship units with different types of batteries that look otherwise identical. Check the estimated battery life of a tracker before you buy.

Display Options

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Some entry-level activity trackers don’t have backlit displays, which is great if you want to make sure the unit won’t die on you while you’re out on a hiking trail. Users of the Zip and other similar devices often consider this a plus because it improves battery life and drastically reduces the upfront cost of owning one.
On the other hand, it makes it nearly impossible to read in the dark. If you’re going to be working out indoors or going for an evening run, then you’ll want to make sure that your activity tracker has a backlight. Some people get one with each option, though this isn’t recommended unless you’re a collector or a hardcore workout warrior.

GPS Enabled

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It’s easy to think of GPS as something in your car or on your phone, but this kind of technology won’t do you much good if you’re hiking or cycling. Go with a fitness tracking wearable that has built-in GPS if you can afford it. Being able to see just how far you’ve traveled on a map can do wonders for your self-confidence. GPS reception can help you keep your personal fitness goals too. You won’t be able to lie to yourself and say you’ve traveled further than you have when that display is staring you in the face.

Privacy Policy

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While reading might seem tedious and very boring, you’ll want to check out the privacy policy and see what kind of information gets shared with the vendor. You might not mind anonymously sharing your heart rate or the kind of activity you’re doing with a stranger, but some devices do give you the option to switch data collection off. Fitness trackers may relay some location data, so you’ll probably want one that lets you disable at least that feature.

Opt for a Social Experience

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Getting fit is much easier when you’re doing it with friends. While you might want to make as much of an effort as possible to get together in person, some wearables can bring your workout buddies that much closer. Look for a device that lets you share profile information and daily stats so you can see how far along you are with your fitness goals compared to your friends.
Fitbit users lead the pack in many ways since they can share stats and accomplishments with all their friends simply by managing their device’s profile. Considering that countless devices can connect to regular social networking accounts, you’ll want to check the manufacturer’s social options if this is important to you.

Check Heart Rate and Sleep Tracking Specs

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Browsing through Amazon or your local retailer will give you a good idea of how many devices claim to do at least some kind of heart rate tracking. Just as many if not more state they’re able to make sure you get enough sleep at night. If you have the luxury of looking at a fitness tracker from all angles before you buy it, then make sure there’s some kind of sensor on the back. Ones without an obvious sensor may not be able to really track your heart and probably can’t tell the difference between light and heavy sleep.

Waterproofing

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Are you adding a rigorous regimen of surfboarding, water skiing and lap swimming to your exercise schedule? If so, then you’ll want a fitness watch that can be submerged in water without shorting out. On the other hand, landlubbers may not need this feature. While you’ll want something that’s resistant to sweat the extra waterproofing will just increase the price if you don’t plan on using it.

Know Your Budget

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Shiny new electronics are tempting, but you don’t want to drop a ton of money while you’re trying to drop pants sizes. Set a flexible price range and do your best to stick to it. There’s no reason you can’t meet your fitness goals working with an entry-level model if need be.
You can usually get better deals around major online retail holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but remember that a new fitness tracker might cost a bit more during the first week of the year. Plenty of other people are trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions too!

While doing research before you buy a wearable fitness computer can be dull, it’ll pay off in the long-run. Getting the right device can go a long way toward starting the year off right. Make sure to use your fitness trackers once you have them and you’ll start living a healthy lifestyle in no time.

*Any prices mentioned in the article were at the time of publishing and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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