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No matter how much you exercise, fitness trackers can be a great way to help you stay — or get — in shape without the bulk and extra cost of a full-blown smartwatch. Not only do they hold you accountable for your physical activity, many of the best fitness tracker models now include added health features such as sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring and more. They'll then share that fitness tracking data with an app to give you a broader look at your overall fitness.
There are dozens of fitness trackers to choose from (many of which we haven't tested yet), but we've rounded up five of the best fitness tracker picks based on price, form and function. Many of them require that you use a mobile app to track your progress, and set up smart notifications to help you reach your goal. Regardless of your fitness level and the types of physical activity you enjoy, this list can help get you started on your search for a wearable device that monitors your activity and helps you achieve peak fitness. It goes without saying however, that not even the most advanced tracker will do the work for you.
So if you're looking for the best fitness tracker out there, read on! Let us know if your favorite was left off the list and we'll continue to update it once we've been able to test it out.
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If you're looking for a fitness tracker that behaves a lot like a smartwatch without the extra bulk, the Fitbit Charge 4 might be the perfect fit. It checks all the boxes when it comes to health and fitness features and even goes beyond the basics with things like heart rate zone notifications during exercise and advanced sleep tracking metrics. It also has a built-in GPS to track outdoor workouts independently of your phone. If you want to keep track of your data, you'll want to download the Fitbit app, which does a great job breaking down how much progress you've made and how close you are to achieving your fitness goal. This fitness tracking device can also facilitate mobile payments and the option to reply to texts and messages if you're an Android user.
Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET
If you're looking for fitness band that's even more discrete (and more affordable), you may also consider the Fitbit Inspire 2. You won't get the built-in GPS or mobile payment options, but it has the essentials when it comes to health and fitness including heart rate tracking, automatic workout detection and a detailed sleep tracker analysis with Fitbit Premium (free for a year with the purchase).
It's also the closest thing to jewelry with a screen I've worn so far. If you feel like dressing it up, its silicone sports bands can easily be swapped out for a leather or stainless steel mesh band (sold separately). But the biggest perk: battery life. It can go up to 10 days on a charge, whereas the Charge 4 caps out at about five days if you toggle off the GPS.
For less than $40, the Mi Band 4 is the best value fitness tracker you can buy. This fitness watch packs most of the features you'd get in a more expensive fitness tracker, like an AMOLED touchscreen that's easy to see in sunlight, 24/7 heart rate and sleep tracking. Battery life is also second to none, as you'll get around two and a half weeks of use before you need to charge. The one thing this cheap fitness tracker does miss out on is workout variety; This Xiaomi Mi Band can only detect running, walking, cycling or swimming, so any other workout like Pilates or yoga would need to be tracked under the generic “exercise” type.
I know what you're thinking: This is not a tracker. But even if you strip away all of its smartwatch features, the Apple Watch would still hold its own as a standalone fitness tracker. And the cheaper Series 3 has everything you need. Not only does it keep tabs on your health and activity like the rest of the trackers on this list, it also gives you access to dozens of fitness apps, ranging from running coaches to strength training routines, to guide your through your workouts.
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<p class="wellness-disclosure"> <em>The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.</em> </p>