Track stars: The best fitness trackers to keep you moving
With headlines like “My fitness band is making me fat,” wearable trackers recently came under fire in the press. It seems that some users followed the possibly-too-high recommended daily calorie allowances, which resulted in the needle on the scale going up instead of down.
But don’t be so quick to write off the trackers completely. You just have to be smart about how to use them and focus on their ability to monitor activity levels. That’s because they can actually help you move more! According to the American Medical Association, recent studies show that monitoring your fitness can help you become 26 percent more active.
There are lots of options out there right now: You can download fitness-tracker apps directly on your smartphone or go the high-tech route and buy a wearable tracker device. But all of those options can be a bit overwhelming. So to help you figure out which ones are the best for you and your fitness goals, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best fitness-tracking apps and gadgets to date. (It is important to keep in mind that some of these wearable gadgets are linked to smartphone apps that work exclusively with Android or iPhone, so before you buy anything, make sure that it is compatible with your particular phone.)
Fitbit offers a variety of wireless, wearable devices that can sync to your smartphone or computer. Each device has its own set of capabilities, but a good one to start with is the Fitbit Flex model, which can track statistics in real-time, including steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. ($99.95 at Fitbit.com, compatible with both Apple and Android devices)
Cody is a video-based app where you can find new workouts to do, track your fitness progress and get support from your friends. If you just cranked out four miles on the treadmill, post it on the app so friends can give you a virtual high five and comment on a job well done. You can also buy video packages from trainers for new workout suggestions, like core yoga power or Olympic-style lifting. (Free but packages cost extra, compatible with Apple)
Samsung Gear Fit is one of the newer kids on the block and is a mix between a fitness tracker and a smartphone. It comes fitted with a heart rate sensor, pedometer, sleep monitor and a companion app that tracks walking, running, cycling and hiking. It displays not only how many steps you’ve taken and your heart rate, but also emails, texts and alerts. Open up the companion app for an in-depth analysis of your fitness activity. ($149.99 at Samsung.com)
Strava is a great app to use if you love a little friendly competition. The app mostly caters to runners and bikers and it tracks all of your routes and times so that you can monitor your personal progress and compete against other athletes who have run or ridden the same trail. There’s even a leaderboard you can climb as you improve! (Free, works with most Apple and Android phones)
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Photo credit: John Biehler