Whether you’ve always been health-conscious or are at the very beginning of your fitness journey, you’ve probably heard about fitness trackers at one point or another. You’d certainly be in good company: An estimated 32 million Americans jumped on the device bandwagon in 2016 alone! Beloved by everyone from physicians and workout fanatics to those simply looking to increase their daily step count, this wearable health technology has grown into $2 billion-plus dollar industry — and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Lucky for you, we just so happen to have an “in” on the best fitness trackers of 2021.
Benefits of Fitness Trackers
When looking for the perfect fitness tracker, it’s important to understand how they work to benefit you. While no two models are exactly the same, there are some fundamental commonalities seen among each type.
Fitness trackers monitor your movements through device sensors, recording data about your daily activities and sharing it wirelessly to your computer, or, more often than not, through an app on your phone. While features can vary by device, most fitness trackers are equipped to measure several different aspects of your health, such as your daily step count, amount of calories burned, the hours of sleep you got, your temperature, and, most recently, your heart-rate.
With all that data available at your fingertips, you’ll not only be more informed about your health, you’ll be more motivated. Studies from Johns Hopkins Medicine have shown that fitness trackers are great inspirational devices, helping people to not only set health goals but pushing them to get out there and actually achieve them.
A subsequent 2018 study by Virginia Tech researcher Tabitha James also found that different types work better for different personalities: “Our study showed that people with different motivations toward exercise used different features of fitness technologies,” she told the school’s newspaper.
What are the best fitness trackers of 2021?
From high-end smart watches to affordable (and kid-friendly) options, there’s a fitness tracker out there for every lifestyle, taste, and budget, and the perfect type for you will depend on what features motivate you most. Keep scrolling for FIRST for Women’s’s picks for the best fitness trackers on the market today to take control of your health.
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Best Watch Fitness Tracker
Apple Watch Series 4
Where to buy: $349, Best Buy
For the crème de la crème of fitness trackers, it's hard to beat the beloved Apple Watch. Combining style with top-of-the line technology, it's a great option for those in the market for a smart watch with superior fitness tracking capabilities. It stands out from the rest thanks to its FDA-approved electrocardiogram app, which helps to monitor heart issues, such as irregular rhythms and even atrial fibrillation, which, in some cases, can be used to identify and prevent serious emergencies. It also comes complete with integrated workout apps, a waterproof design, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Most Affordable Fitness Tracker
Fitbit Alta HR
Where to buy: $85.47 (Originally $129.95), Amazon
When it comes to fitness trackers, Fitbit is king. As the leading brand in health monitors, its devices are adored for their expert tracking capability and affordable pricing. If you're looking for a top-notch tracker that rings in under $100, we recommend the Fitbit Alta HR. Available in six colors options, this machine has it all — think step and calorie counting, sleep tracking, fitness reminders, a heart-rate monitor, and automatic exercise recognition that will begin recording the results of your workout from your very first steps. With the Fitbit Alta HR, you'll be well on your way to healthier you.
Best Fitness Tracker for Women
Fitbit Charge 3
Where to buy: From $119.95 (Originally ($149.95), Amazon
Another iteration from Fitbit, the Fitbit Charge 3 is one of the latest models to take the fitness tracker market by storm. It's got all the usual suspects, such as step counting, calorie monitoring, automatic sleep tracking, and a heart monitor, but its app is also equipped with a female health tracker to give women a better understanding of their reproductive cycles. The seven day battery life and Fitbit app-guided exercises aren't too shabby, either!
Best Fitness Tracker for Runners
Where to buy: $169.99, Garmin
Runners will want to take note of the Garmin vívosport. Like other trackers on this list, this device comes with daily step counting, heart-rate monitoring, and stress tracking, all wrapped up in a sleek, waterproof design. But Garmin turns things up a notch with its advanced fitness performance monitors, which allow you to track distance, time, speed, and pace. This thing even goes so far as to map out your runs on Garmin Connect, thanks to its GPS integration. And, with a battery life of up to seven days, you'll never run out of juice mid-run. What's not to love?
Best Fitness Tracker for Sleep
Garmin vívosmart 4
Where to buy: $99.99 (Originally $129.99), Garmin
One of the latest advancements to come of fitness trackers is sleep tracking technology, and the Garmin vívosmart 4, in particular, stands out in that respect. As one of the company's most popular tracking models, this device notes the amount of movement and restlessness you experience while sleeping throughout the night and the length of your sleep stages (REM, light, and deep). But the real star of the show here? Its pulse oximeter, which measures your blood oxygen levels during slumber to help detect issues like sleep apnea. It's also equipped with all the regular bells and whistles you'd expect to find, including a heart-rate monitor.
Best Fitness Tracker for Kids
Fitbit Ace 2
Where to buy: $69.95, Target
If your dedication to health extends to your brood, Fitbit has your back. Designed specifically for the tiniest members of your family, its Ace 2 machine offers regular tracking of activities and sleep in addition to clever challenges that will turn exercise into a fun game for the whole family. Wrapped up in an adorably colorful and water-resistant design, this pint-sized model makes healthy habits a part of your child's daily routine. Yes, please!
Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker
Fitbit Inspire HR
Where to buy: $79 (Originally $99.95), Amazon
Is a waterproof fitness tracker is at the top of your must-have list? Then look no further than the Fitbit Inspire. Another winner from the tracker masters over at Fitbit HQ, this model stands out not only for its integrated heart-rate monitor, but for its waterproof design, making it a great fitness tracker for swimmers. It also boasts up to five days of battery life, so you'll never miss a fitness milestone.
Most Stylish Fitness Tracker
Garmin vívomove HR
Where to buy: $299.99 (Originally $349.99) Garmin
For many people, a big complaint with regard to fitness trackers is that they cramp their style. Enter Garmin's vívomove HR. Featuring an 18K rose gold stainless steel casing complete with an Italian leather band, this fitness tracker is as chic as they come. It doesn't skimp on the technology, either, thanks to an Elevate heart monitor, step and stress tracking, sleep monitoring, and smart phone features, such as notifications for incoming calls and texts. Ultimately, it's the best of both worlds!