So you’ve decided you want to improve your health routine. That’s great news! An activity tracker would help you in achieving that. But do you already know what tracker to buy? There are tons of options out there, all of them different in terms of design and function. If you really want to get the most out of your purchase, then it is necessary for you to characterize your ideal tracker before you even browse the shops.
An activity tracker will not make you healthy automatically; it just helps in motivating you by giving you real-time data on your progress. That being said, not all trackers have the exact same scopes, meaning they measure different fitness statistics. Some have more functions than others, and a few notable ones are much more sleek and stylish than their counterparts.
So before buying a tracker, ask yourself first: “How am I going to use this activity tracker?” Are you going to jog every day and aim for ten thousand step count goal? Are you going to bike to burn lots and lots of calories?
Or are you just planning to continue your daily routine, simply using the tracker as a health monitor? Choosing which tracker to use would very heavily depend on what activities you plan to do and what data you wish to monitor and record.
PopSci gives us a very simple checklist to help us choose which tracker is the most appropriate for our needs. The first point on this list is body placement, where you want to wear your tracker. Most trackers nowadays are in the standard band form, but this is far from the only design available in the market.
Some trackers can be clipped to your clothes as discreet monitors. You will even hear of trackers that can be worn as pendants or rings. You should choose which design is the most comfortable for you. Which one would not hinder your daily tasks? Which one are you least likely to forget to wear? Which one fits your style?
You should also consider what material the tracker is made of. If your skin is sensitive to various kinds of plastic, you should stay clear of trackers made from that. You have a lot to choose from, so you would surely find a tracker that offers both comfort and aesthetic appeal.
The second point to consider is the display, do you want your tracker to have a screen or not? A screen would let you monitor your stats anytime, without drawing out your phone. Some advanced trackers can even use their screens to display notifications and messages.
However, a tracker with a display is generally heavier and may have to be charged more frequently. Again, your choice here would depend on how you plan to use your tracker and how many functions you want it to have.
You should also consider battery life when choosing a tracker. There are two categories in terms of tracker batteries today: the kind that requires charging using a USB cable every few days, and the kind that uses a cell battery that can last around six months. Choose which set-up is more convenient for you.
Check the associated app before making your choice, too. Trackers come with a mobile app that would monitor and store your data. Some apps can even connect to the internet for instantaneous sharing. Check if the app has a user-friendly interface and if it displays all the stats that you need to see.
All trackers in the market can count how many steps you’ve made and how much calories you’ve burned, but some offer a little bit more. Certain trackers offer additional functions that might come in handy for you, like heart-rate monitoring.
This will report peaks of activity so that you’ll how certain events affected your heart. Some trackers also use heart rate data to more accurately measure calorie burn. This function is important if you plan to do high-intensity interval training so that you’ll know if your heart is keeping up with the sudden bursts of activity.
If you are planning to jog in the rain or measure your stats while you’re in the pool, then there is another function that your tracker must have: waterproofing. Not all trackers can repel water, and not all of the waterproof ones can perform with the same effectiveness as others.
Look for a tracker with a waterproofing level that suits your needs. Also, if you’re want to use a full-blown swimming tracker, make sure that you pick one that will monitor distance, speed, and metrics, and can detect whether you’re using a breaststroke, a crawl, or any other stroke.
Trackers can also monitor your sleep levels. Those with a “smart alarm” function, like Misfit Shine, can even determine the optimal time in your sleep cycle to wake you up. Also, consider if you need this function or not.
Another function that you might want to have in your tracker is GPS. Some trackers have built-in GPS while some would rely on your mobile device. This function is absolutely necessary to accurately measure distance.
Only having a step count function would obviously not be enough for cyclists, since what they really need to know is the distance that they biked. There are also trackers with altimeters that can record how many stairs you’ve climbed.
And last, but certainly not the least, factor to consider is the price. More expensive trackers generally cover more data than cheap ones and can also look much more stylish. Some also offer more luxurious functions like playing music and suggesting specific workouts. LiveScience made a flow chart featuring trackers in varying price points and what each one can offer, you can go check that out.
The perfect tracker does not exist, after all, not all dreams come true, but you can surely find one that would still do great for you. Just keep your goals in mind, and look for the tracker that would motivate you to achieve them.