Activity trackers or fitness monitors are the hot new gadget to have in 2014. Like high-tech pedometers, they can count your steps and then estimate distance and calories burned, once you tell them your age, height and gender. Updated to include the latest activity trackers.
You can use them to monitor your activity, but the general idea is that they spur you on to exercise more, helping you to get fitter and / or lose weight.
Some, but not all, have a display which shows this information, and they’re either worn on your wrist like a watch or clipped onto your clothes.
The data they store is synchronised with your smartphone, tablet or PC which means you can do various things. First, you can see a more detailed view of your activity, such as when you were most active during the day. You might also be able to see extra information, including very active minutes and sleep patterns, depending on the particular tracker and software.
Second, you can use the app or website to compete with friends (not every tracker offers this, though). Pitting yourself against others is even more motivational than the data from the tracker itself, since you won’t want others to beat your steps tally.
Third, being able to see historical data means you can see how well you’re doing, and whether you’re improving or slacking off.
Best Activity Tracker: Features
A basic activity tracker will record your steps, distance covered, calories burned and active minutes. It might also have a clock so you can tell the time.
More advanced models add one or more of the following: sleep tracking, an altimeter, on-demand heart rate measurements, session recording (for running or other sports).
Few are completely waterproof (the Polar Loop being the best for swimmers), but virtually all will withstand sweat and rain.
Batteries last anywhere from a few days to several months depending on their power source.
Best Activity Tracker: Prices
The cheapest tracker – the Fitbit Zip – can be found for as little as £35, with the most expensive costing around £130.
The 10 Best Activity Trackers
NOTE: We removed the Fitbit Force from this chart due to it being recalled and taken off sale in the US. It never officially went on sale in the UK.