Best fitness trackers and watches 2022

From fitness trackers that monitor your sleep to smartwatches specifically geared toward runners or cyclists, today’s wearables go way beyond simply telling the time. Some measure your blood oxygen levels, prescribe recovery time and create training plans as well as helping you track activity and lose weight. Some can even detect if you’ve taken a fall and automatically notify your emergency contacts. According to research from Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends Report, a record 19.2m health tracking devices were bought by UK consumers in the year to July 2021, which is more than double the number the previous year. But choosing the right one can be a challenge.

What is a fitness tracker?

Fitness trackers are meant to be worn all day, every day, and designed to track everything from walking up the stairs or working out at home to running a multi-stage ultra-marathon. Some also allow you to view and respond to emails, texts and social posts. Some track your sleep – including how long you spend in light, deep and REM sleep.

“There are many options on the market right now at a variety of price points,” says Nick Anderson of coaching experts Running with Us. “Many are now tailored towards different forms of exercise. There is something to suit everyone.”

How do fitness trackers work?

Most measure motion through three-axis accelerometer sensors – measuring the acceleration, frequency, duration, intensity and patterns of your movement. Other wearables use an optical heart rate monitor: tiny LEDs illuminate your capillaries and the changing light refraction can be used to calculate your pulse.

“Fitness trackers can also measure the distance you run or cycle via GPS, which is built into the watch,” adds Anderson. “The system works by measuring the time it takes for signals to be received from satellites. It frequently pings your location, then measures the distance between each ping.” Trackers with GPS can also be used for navigation, and even work in the sea. “If a fitness watch offers the option of outdoor swimming, the GPS signal is likely to be boosted to enable the device to track accurately.”

Which fitness tracker is best for me?

Ask yourself: Do you want something with GPS, to track running and cycling? Are you fashion conscious? (Fitness watches for women now come with a huge range of colors and materials.) Do you really need all the features in the top-of-the-line model? This will help narrow down the search.

“A device with GPS will be more costly due to the technology required to provide accurate information. They offer far more data and valuable metrics. It’s worth the spend if you are serious about your results and improvement,” advises Anderson.

Some trackers will also measure your sleep (both the quality and quantity), stress levels, heart rhythm irregularity, blood oxygen levels and even your menstrual health, but it’s important to remember that these only act as a guide. “It’s the trends that become useful,” he says. “Without full ECG you won’t get 100 per cent accuracy in this area, but the trends can be useful when looking for marginal gains and improvements in your performance.”

Other features to look out for? “Some fitness trackers come with smart notifications for your phone apps and can control the music on your headphones,” he adds. Top of the range watches nearly all include tap payments, Bluetooth microphone to take calls, water resistance to 50m and extended battery life.

Fitness trackers and Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day, which this year falls on July 12 and 13, sees major discounts offered to Amazon Prime members for two days only. The best fitness trackers are often included – including our favorite light fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 5, below. Read our daily guide to the best Amazon Prime Day deals to see what else is in the sale.

How I tested the best fitness trackers

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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