Features to look out for when buying a fitness tracker

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Brynna Gabrielson

HY tracker featuresAs wearable technology continues to grow in popularity, more and more devices will continue to be released by a variety of manufacturers. While many of the devices offer the same basic features - you'd have a difficult time finding one that DOESN'T track steps - there are also some devices that have unique functionality. Here, we go through some features that you may want to look out for when picking the right fitness tracker for you.

1. Heart rate monitor
Just last year the heart rate monitor was a more novel feature on fitness trackers, however the technology has spread and many more devices are able to track heart rate. Monitoring your heart rate can help you get a better idea of how many calories you're burning in a day, especially during a workout, and can show you when you're in your target heart rate zone so you can maintain intensity.

Devices to look for: Fitbit Charge HR, Apple Watch, Garmin Vivosmart, Jawbone UP 4, TomTom Spark

2. Exercise recognition
To more accurately monitor your workouts some devices have activity sensors, which can detect whether you're doing certain things such as running, cycling, and walking or doing aerobic exercise versus sport. It will then automatically log your workout without you having to manually enter it within whatever app your device is using.

Devices to look for: Various Fitbit devices (Charge HR, Surge, Alta), 

3. Smartphone integration
There are a multitude of devices out there that offer some form of further functionality for your smartphone. Some simply provide notifications when your phone is getting a call or text, and others can actually display and respond to text messages or make calls. Many of these can also control your music. The Apple Watch is perhaps the most integrated device, providing a range of functions and apps.

Devices to look for: Fitbit Blaze, Apple Watch, Microsoft Band 2

4. GPS
While many trackers can offer you insight into how many steps you've taken, getting a device that also has GPS can add another dimension to what you're tracking. With GPS some devices can map your routes and provide stats like your distance travelled and pace. Devices that have GPS features are great for runners and cyclists.

Device to look for: Fitbit Surge, Apple Watch, Garmin Vivoactive HR, Microsoft Band 2

5. Swimming support
Many fitness trackers available aren't waterproof and can't be worn in the pool. With many devices you can log your workout in the app after your swim, but there are a few waterproof devices out there to keep an eye on. These devices may be able to track a number of additional metrics, such as how many laps you complete, and how many lengths you do each lap etc.

Devices to look for: Misfit Speedo Shine, Garmin Swim, Garmin Vivoactive HR, Withings Activite Pop

6. Coaching
For the most part trackers are there to log your fitness stats, but in some cases they can also provide feedback to help you improve your fitness, health, and in the case of your workouts - form and execution. If you're looking to get real-time feedback on your workouts and health, then this is a feature you might not want to miss.

Devices to look for: Moov Now, Jawbone UP3

7. Movement reminders
It's a simple feature, but one we think is super useful. A movement reminder is basically just a vibration from your device, or notification via an app, to remind you to move when you've been still for too long. For those of us who sit at our desks all day long and get lost in our work, these little reminders can be very valuable in ensuring we take a break - not just to get moving, but to give our eyes and minds a rest as well!

Devices to look for: Jawbone UP3, Garmin Vivofit 3, Fitbit Alta