One of the most important aspects of fitness these days is being able to track activity levels. With the reviews in this best fitness tracker 2018 list, you’ll be able to find an activity tracker to do just that.
Knowing the amount of energy exerted can help determine which workout routines or activities give you the maximum results for your time. Other factors such as step trackers and GPS tracking capabilities add more options to evaluate your routine as well.
In this Best Fitness Tracker 2018 List, we’ve reviewed popular fitness trackers and fitness bands by combining product testing with online reviews to develop a detailed buying guide with all the latest information. We’ve narrowed it down to the top 15 Best Fitness Trackers of 2018.
Best Fitness Tracker 2018
|#1 Fitbit Ionic||Monochrome LCD||4+ days with continuous heart rate; 10 hours with GPS||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, GPS, NFC Payment Chip, Wireless Sync|||
|#2 Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch||Monochrome LCD||4 days with continuous heart rate; 5 hours with GPS||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, GPS|||
|#3 Garmin Forerunner 735XT||Color LCD||11 days; 14 hours with GPS||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, GPS|||
|#4 Apple Watch Nike+||OLED||18 hours||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, GPS|||
|#5 Fitbit Charge 2||OLED||5 days||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker|
|#6 Apple Watch 2||OLED||18 hours; 5 hours with GPS||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, GPS|
|#7 Garmin Forerunner 35||Monochrome LCD||9 days||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, GPS|
|#8 Misfit Shine 2||White LED||6 months||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker||(Under $100)|
|#9 Samsung Gear Fit2||OLED||3-4 days||Heart Rate Monitor|
|#10 TomTom Spark 3||Monochrome LCD||3 weeks||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker|
|#11 Fitbit Charge||OLED||Weeks||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker|
|#12 Fitbit Flex 2||LED Indicator Lights||5 Days||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Track||(Under $100)|
|#13 Fitbit Flex||LED Indicator Lights||5 Days||Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Track||(Under $80)|
|#14 Garmin Approach S6||OLED||20 Weeks, 10 Hours with GPS||SwingStrength, SwingTempo, PinPointer, Course Layout|
|#15 Garmin Forerunner 920XT||OLED||12 Hours with GPS||Stroke Count, Lap Count, Text/Call/Email|
1. Fitbit Ionic – Best Fitness Tracker 2018
New for 2018 and Fitbit’s latest fitness tracker, the Ionic looks to improve on the wildly successful Fitbit Surge. While the two fitness trackers have their similarities, the differences are very noticeable and are enough to propel the Ionic into the lead for the Best Fitness Tracker 2018.
- Slimmer Design
- Improved and Faster GPS Capability
- Up to 4 Day Battery Life
- Receive Smartphone Notifications
- Make Payments with built-in NFC chip
- Storage for 300+ Songs
- Syncs with Fitbit Accessories (ex. Wireless earbuds)
The most obvious improvement that the Ionic provides is the redesigned watch band and display. The size of each has been significantly reduced compared to the rather bulky Fitbit Surge. The touch screen color LCD display allows for seamless transition between applications.
In an effort to increase battery life, the always on function is no longer available with the Fitbit Ionic. This could take some getting used to as the Surge display was always available.
The Fitbit Ionic has all the features and applications you would expect from the leader in fitness trackers. The Ionic is essentially a smartwatch geared for fitness, so expect all your smartphone notifications such as calling, texts, and email to be sent directly to the device.
It boats all the latest heart rate monitoring apps and sensors, like Fitbit’s proven Purepulse Heart rate monitoring app that is one of the best available. Other features include reminders to move and sleep monitoring, both of which the Fitbit Surge lacked.
Overall, the Fitbit Ionic is a step above the Fitbit Surge and leads the Best Fitness Tracker 2018 list. Its swim proof design makes it a great watch for just about any occasion, and the 4 day battery life is perfect for those long outings.
With it’s many options and sleek styling, it’s hard to ask for a better Fitness Tracker at it’s price point.
GPS tracking allows you to keep track of distance, pace, elevation, and routes taken. Combined with SmartTrack, Fitbit’s proprietary tracking program, workouts are automatically recorded when activity exceeds 15 minutes. You can even change the interval from 15 minutes to anywhere between 10 and 90 minutes for the Surge to automatically track your workout without you having to lift a finger.
SmartTrack can even be customized to only record certain activities, and exclude others like walk, run, outdoor bike, or elliptical. This is perfect for customizing for your specific routine.
PurePulse Heart Rate monitoring constantly records how hard your heart is working during workouts and everyday activities. Adjust your workout intensity accordingly and maximize time and effort. There won’t be a moment that the Fitbit Surge isn’t tracking your heart rate. More data is better right?
Notifications + Music show on the device display giving the ability to control music from your mobile playlist. The Fitbit Surge Fitness SuperWatch also allows for Wireless Syncing to popular mobile devices and computers. Syncing range is up to 20 feet.
It’s Long Battery Life of up to 7 days and nearing 10 hours with the GPS activated make the Fitbit Surge Fitness SuperWatch more than adequate for most long workout needs. Battery life is comparable to the Apple Watch Nike + with the GPS engaged.
Compatibility with over 200 leading mobile phone devices makes the Fitbit Surge the top compatible fitness tracker on the list.
The Fitbit Surge Memory is capable of tracking 7 days of detailed motion data – minute by minute, daily totals for past 30 days, and stores heart rate data at 1 second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5 second intervals all other times.
The Fitbit Surge comes with the latest and greatest sensors as well, including:
- 3-axis accelerometers,
- 3-axis gyroscope,
- Digital compass,
- Optical heart rate monitor,
- Ambient light sensor; and,
- Vibration motor.
It’s constructed out of durable elastomer material with a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle. The Fitbit Surge Super watch has a 5 ATM rating meaning it’s highly water resistant and is protected from rain, showering, and light water sports.
3. Garmin Forerunner 735XT – Best Garmin Fitness Tracker
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a fitness tracker built around doing it all. Whether it’s run, bike, sprint, swim, or tri, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT has it covered and why it’s included near the top of the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
Equipped with a GPS tracker and wrist based heart rate monitor, you’ll always be able to evaluate your activities. Elevate heart rate technology allows for monitoring at the wrist and eliminates the need for chest based monitors.
The Forerunner 735XT is equipped with Garmin Advanced heart rate monitoring which includes:
- Running dynamics such as ground contact time balance, stride length, and vertical ratio,
- VO2 max estimate, lactate threshold, race predictor and recovery advisor; and,
- Underwater heart rate for swimming.
Garmin Connect is Garmin’s answer to mobile compatibility and connectivity. It allows for live tracking while doing your workout. Friends and family can monitor your movement and location in real time with LiveTrack and even comment, sending you a notification to the device. If staying social is important, this is the fitness tracker for you.
The Garmin Face It App customizes the Forerunner 735XT display to any photo from your smartphone. Whether it’s a scenic view from your last hike, a picture of your new puppy, or something motivational, with the Garmin Face It App you can add personality to your fitness tracker that’s uniquely you.
4. Apple Watch Nike+ – Best Running Watch
The Apple Watch Nike+ Series 2 is built around one thing, and that’s running. As with other top fitness trackers in 2018, it has a built in GPS and tracks your distance, pace, and route even without your iPhone or other compatible smartphone nearby.
Centered around the Nike+ Run Club app, you can interact and compete with friends or the app community in real time. Motivation and expert guidance are all on your wrist any time you need it. The downside is your friends need to be on Nike+ Run Club app as well, so it’s application may be a bit limited.
With display faces that feature Nike’s iconic Volt color and 2x brighter than earlier models, readouts are easy to see and you’ll never have to worry about sun glare. Additionally, the Apple Watch Nike + is water resistant to 50 meters.
Other apps: Calorie Counter, Breathing App, Apple Music.
The Apple Watch Nike + is compatible with other Apple Products like the Apple Watch Charging Dock. When docked, your fitness tracker automatically goes into Nightstand mode, so you can use it as your alarm clock.
The Apple Watch Nike+ Series 2 is one of the best fitness trackers of 2018 and is the watch to have if you’re a hardcore runner and use Nike+Run Club. While the price is high, it does have a better quality display and band (lightweight fluoroelastomer) than most other fitness trackers.
Fitbit’s #1 selling fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 2 is designed to do pretty much everything. Combined with it’s abundant features and affordable price tag, it’s easily one of the top fitness trackers on the best fitness tracker 2018 list. It’s also the best Fitbit for women, and the best fitness watch for women overall. Lets take a look why.
- PurePulse Heart Rate Monitoring (Heart Rate Variability through Relax App) (HRV)
- Multi-Sport Tracking and GPS
- Call, Text, and Calendar Alerts
- Cardio Fitness Level
- Guided Breathing Sessions
The ability to monitor heart rate variability is rather new in activity trackers. The Fitbit Charge 2 is the best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor due to it’s HRV capability.
Additional features on the Fitbit Charge 2 include All-Day Activity Tracking which continuously tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes & hourly activity with up to 5-day battery life.
Reminders to Move helps you stay active throughout the day. Charge 2 sends Reminders to Move that encourage you to take 250 steps every hour.
The Fitbit Charge 2 automatically tracks how long and how well you sleep to help you work toward a better routine with the Auto Sleep Tracking feature.
The Silent Vibrating Alarm feature creates a sleep schedule in the app to alert you when it’s time to get up or when to start moving again. You can set up to eight silent alarms to occur once or on multiple days of the week.
Fitbit also allows for the customization of the Charge 2 by offering special leather band’s as well as a multitude of available colors to choose from. Users can match the look to the occasion. The only downside with the Fitbit Charge 2 is that it has one of lowest water resistant ratings on the best fitness tracker 2018 list at 1 ATM. This means it can withstand only limited contact with water and is not ideal for swimming or showering.
Between the host of Apps and Features, ability to customize, and affordable price tag, the FitBit Charge 2 makes the best fitness tracker 2018 list easily and is the recommended choice for the best all around budget fitness tracker. It’s customization ability to match any outfit and it’s small sleek design make it the best activity tracker for women.
How Do Fitness Trackers Calculate Heart Rate?
6. Apple Watch 2 – Best Fitness Tracker for iPhone
With the Apple Watch 2, you can leave your iPhone at home and still track your run or ride accurately. With it’s 50 meter water resistant design, you can track your laps around the pool too.
Once you are done with your activity, just check your iPhone for the details like distance, intensity, laps, and speed. It’s all constantly being updated to your phone so the results are instantaneous.
With Airpods, wirelessly connect to the Apple Watch 2 and have streaming music as you workout. The Apple Watch 2 is also compatible with the Apple Watch Charging Dock. When docked, your fitness tracker automatically goes into Nightstand mode, so you can use it as your alarm clock.
- Heart Rate Sensor
- Breathe App
- Third-Party Health Apps
- Health App on iPhone
With the ability to receive incoming calls, respond to texts, and customize the watch face, the Apple Watch 2 is really one of the most complete do it all fitness trackers on the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
With it’s large display measuring in at 0.93” x 0.93”, it provides easy viewing for tracking activities and up to 13 hours of usage in training mode.
The Garmin Forerunner 35 has a 5 ATM rating from Garmin which allows for use in environments that might include splashes, rain/snow, showering, swimming, diving into water, and snorkeling. It is not suited for scuba diving or high speed water sports.
- High Sensitivity GPS Receiver
- Smart Notifications (displays email, text and other alerts when paired with your compatible phone)
- Vibration Alert
- Music Control
- Find My Phone
Activity trackers include Accelerometer (calculates distance for indoor workouts, without need for a foot pod), Bike speed/cadence sensor, Heart rate monitor, and Step counter.
As with the Garmin Forerunner 735XT, the Forerunner 35 is compatible with Garmin Connect™ so that workouts and activities can be shared with the community or friends.
Overall the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a fitness tracker that offers a lot of options all packed into one. It’s affordable price and ability to compete with options available on most high end fitness trackers is why it is ranked high in the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
OLED vs. AMOLED vs. LCD Displays
- Tracks steps, distance, calories, and light and restful sleep
- Vibration alerts for call and text notifications, movement reminders, and alarms
- Smart button enabled to control connected household devices
- Swimproof, anodized aluminum disc with multicolor LED progress display
- Non-charging, replaceable batteries last up to 6 months
See your progress in a halo of rainbow-colored lights, or let Misfit Move encourage you to get active with a vibrational nudge and unique light animation. Get text and call notifications on your Shine 2 or connect Shine 2 with Misfit Link to control your world—play music, take a selfie, or interact with variety of internet services and smart home devices.
Made from aluminum and water resistant to 50 meters, Shine 2’s minimalist, modular design will keep you motivated and looking good for any occasion or activity. Compatible with most modern iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices, Shine 2 syncs with the Misfit app to show you easy-to-understand information and charts on your activity and sleep patterns.
- 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer work in harmony for our most advanced activity and sleep tracking
- 12 vivid LEDs tell time, show progress, notifications, and more
- Capacitive touch sensor makes Shine 2 instantly responsive
- Vibration Alarm notifies you of important information and gets you moving
- Enhanced Bluetooth 4.1 for fast, reliable wireless data transfer
- No charging required, replaceable coin cell battery lasts up to 6 months
A common problem with the previous Misfit model was that the display would unsuspectingly pop out of the band resulting in a lost unit and worthless band. Misfit received an upgrade in 2017 as the bands were re-engineered to provide a more comfortable experience with added security in the form of a clasp.
Are Fitness Trackers Accurate?
The built in GPS and on screen route tracker allow you to navigate in real time and see the path taken. As with many other fitness trackers in the best fitness tracker 2018 list, the Samsung Gear Fit2 does not require your mobile device to be nearby.
With the auto tracking function, the Samsung Gear Fit2 recognizes the current activity and monitors accordingly. Whether it’s cycling, running, or elliptical, it just knows.
The 1.5″ Super AMOLED display is conveniently large enough so you can quickly check your stats mid-workout, without ever missing a beat.
Typical usage time : 3~4 days
Standby time : Up to 5 days
GPS battery time : Up to 9 hours
Customizable, the Samsung Gear Fit2 is equipped with several different display options including a standard clock face and multiple digital trackers.
Available in both large (155 – 210 mm) and small (125 – 170 mm), the Samsung Gear Fit2 allows for a comfortable fit with a sleek design.
Compatible with the S Health App, compete with friends as you work to improve your workout and goals.
The Samsung Gear Fit2 fitness tracker is compatible with Android 4.4 and higher, devices with over 1.5GB RAM, iOS 9.0 and later, and smartphones iPhone 5 and newer.
Sensors included: GPS, Heart Rate, Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer
Fitness Tracker vs. Smartwatch
10. TomTom Spark 3
The TomTom Spark 3 is a simplistic fitness tracker with a simplistic design. The functions are not as defined as some of the top fitness trackers in the best fitness tracker 2018 list, but it does provide functionality at a good price.
- 24/7 activity tracking
- GPS tracking
- Multisport mode
- Route exploration
- Built-in heart rate monitor
- Over 500 songs of music storage
- Bluetooth headphones included
Capable of storing 500 songs (depending on file size), the TomTom Spark 3 is yet another device that reduces the need for a mobile device to always be present.
Water resistant to 40 m / 130 feet, rain or snow will not be an issue. Activities measured include steps, active minutes, distance, calories burned and sleep.
TomTom MySports App allows you to dive into your stats, set goals, and view your progress on your computer or mobile device.
Compatible Devices Include: Apple: all iPhones with iOS 8 and above, Android 4.4 and above, Samsung: S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S5, S5 Mini, S5 Plus, S4, S4 Mini, A3, A5, Note 3, Note 4, J5, Nexus: 5, 5X, 6, HTC: One M8 and M9, LG: G4, Sony: Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Z5, Z5 Compact, Huawei: P8, P8 Lite, OnePlus One.
Activity tracking: up to 3 weeks
GPS: up to 11 hour
GPS + Heart Rate + Music: up to 5 hours
TomTom is not a company that comes to mind when you think of the best wearable fitness tracker, but the TomTom Spark 3 is a very capable device that deserves some consideration when deciding which activity tracker to purchase. TomTom’s background in GPS tracking for automotive applications adds some reassurance that other fitness tracker devices don’t have.
Are Fitness Trackers Waterproof?
11. Fitbit Charge
Even without all the bells and whistles of many of the best fitness trackers 2018, the simplicity of the Fitbit Charge is refreshing for those looking for something less out of an activity tracker watch . After all, the charge Charge is listed as a fitness wristband.
The Fitbit Charge offers All Day Activity which tracks steps, distances, calories burned, floors climbed, and active minutes.
The small OLED display acts as a fitness tracker watch, gives mobile device notifications, daily stats, and even has an exercise mode.
Since the display is small and with less to power, the Fitbit Charge battery life can last up to 10 days. I think you can realistically expect a full weeks use before recharging depending on the situation. It ranks near the top with regards to battery life in exercise watches and far outlasts the Fitbit Flex and Flex 2 that need to be recharged after 5 days.
With the built in sleep tracker, automatically monitor your sleep and set a silent alarm.
The Fitbit Charge syncs to most popular mobile devices to keep track of stats. Incoming calls to your smartphone will vibrate on the Fitbit Charge reducing missed calls. One of the downsides with the Fitbit Charge is that it has one of lowest water resistant ratings on the best fitness tracker 2018 list at 1 ATM. This means it can withstand only limited contact with water and is not ideal for swimming or showering.
The Fitbit Charge makes a great fitness tracker for new users wanting to enter the fitness tracker world and it rounds out the top 10 devices in the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
12. Fitbit Flex 2 – Best Activity Tracker
The Fitbit Flex 2 is unlike any other fitness tracker reviewed in the Best Fitness Tracker 2018 list so far. It does not have a readable digital display. Instead, it displays progress LEDs as you advance towards your goal. Many people refer to this type of fitness tracker as a fitness band, fitness wristband, or fitness bracelet.
The Fitbit Flex 2 is the most recent offering from Fibit building on the popular Fitbit Flex 1. While it still maintains it’s sleek and simple design (30% smaller than the Flex 1), there are a few changes that aren’t easily apparent. First, the Fitbit Flex 2 fitness tracker is swim-proof and can be submerged up to 50 meters (5 ATM). It’s also equipped with a removable module for easy cleaning, changing watch bands, or for compatibility with necklace holders.
With the Fitbit Flex 2 you get a lighter and less bulky fitness tracker. The new and improved clasp makes it easier to take off and on, something that plagued the Fitbit Flex 1. Along with monitoring steps taken, calories burned, track sleep, and keep track of activity levels throughout the day, it offers SmartTrack which isn’t available on the original Fibit Flex 1. SmartTrack automatically tracks certain exercises like walking, running, outdoor bike rides on pavement, elliptical, aerobic workouts (Zumba or cardio kickboxing) and sports like tennis, basketball and soccer. The Fitbit Flex 2 is the best fitness band available right now.
Unlike the Fitbit Flex, the Fitbit Flex 2 does allow for call and text notifications. Calls and texts light up blue, yellow is for silent mode, and magenta is a reminder to move. The original Fitbit did not offer these color changes in the LED Lights. Each light indicates a 20% progress toward your goal.
Battery life will last from 5-7 days depending on use. With some notification options turned off, it’s not surprising to get 9 days out of this device. Otherwise, the battery life between the Flex and and Flex 2 is essentially the same.
Overall this is an affordable fitness tracker that improves on the popular Fitbit Flex. It’s smaller, less cumbersome design and added features place it high on the list of fitness trackers with LED light notifications instead of a display screen.
13. Fitbit Flex
The Fitbit Flex is the little brother to the new Fitbit Flex 2, but it still maintains a spot in the best fitness tracker 2018 list due to it’s proven design and popularity. It does not have a readable digital display. Instead, it displays progress LEDs as you advance towards your goal.
Sync with your mobile device to set your workout goals, and the Fitbit Flex does the rest. With most of the features of the Fitbit Charge 2, including all-day activity tracking, sleep tracking, and alarm, this fitness tracker is about as basic as you can get.
Available in 10 different colors and with a sleek design, the Fitbit Flex will satisfy just about everyone’s tastes. It’s water resistant for showers/rain and the battery life will last around 5 days.
The Fitbit Flex is about the lowest I would go when selecting a fitness tracker. It still has the capability and design you would expect from Fitbit at an affordable cost. There’s something for everyone in the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
14. Garmin Approach S6 – Best Golf Watch 2018
Weighing in at only 1.6 ounces, it’s safe to say that it will not alter your swing. It’s also slim, so the likelihood it snags during a swing are relatively low.
The Approach S6 comes with Swing Metric Technology that will audibly alert you based on real time swing statistics. SwingTempo is one Garmin swing program that measure the ratio of upswing vs. downswing and expresses it as a ratio. The standard of 3:1 is used as a preferred ratio based on extensive testing by top golfers.
The Approach S6 also comes with the TempoTraining program that works in tandem with SwingTempo. TempoTraining audibly alerts you to the perfect 3:1 ratio swing so that you can adjust if needed.
You’ll never wonder where you are or what’s behind the next dogleg with Garmin’s Courseview Full Color Maps. Pinpoint your exact location on over 38,000 mapped golf courses. Additionally, the Pinpoint App allows you to see the direction of the flagstick at all times. If you live in the rough, your golf watch has arrived.
You can even manually adjust the pin location by a simple tap on the display. With ever changing pin locations, this is a great feature to have.
The Garmin Approach S6 is compatible with most mobile devices and syncs with Notifications. Leave your mobile device in your golf bag and things like calls, texts, and email notifications are shown on the Approach 6.
The Approach S6 with GPS activated will easily last a typical day of golfing with 10 hours of use. Without the GPS activated, you can plan on an incredible 20 weeks.
The Garmin Approach S6 is the perfect Golf Watch. From helping with your swing, to providing valuable course information, to relaying mobile notifications, it really has it all. Not to mention it’s affordable and with these reasons it’s listed as the best golf watch 2018.
15. Garmin Forerunner 920XT – Best Swim Tracker 2018
Why is it so hard to find a dedicated swim tracker that does everything? If you can answer that question, then please enlighten all of us. Until then, lets take a look at why the Garmin Forerunner 920XT is the Best Swim Tracker 2018.
The trade off with accuracy for swim trackers right now comes at the expense of having to wear a chest mounted heart rate monitor (HRM). Well, you don’t have to, but for accuracy purposes, it’s highly recommended. Luckily you can purchase the Forerunner 920XT as bundle with the HRM included so it’s no big deal. The 920XT is also capable of monitoring HRV which is not yet standard in most fitness trackers. This added feature makes the Garmin Forerunner 920XT so much more than just a swim tracker.
And even though the Garmin Forerunner 920XT is not a dedicated swim tracker, it does offer swim metrics and monitoring accuracy not seen by others that claim to be.
920XT Swim Tracking Features:
- Stroke Count
- Drill Loging
- Rest Timers
The 920XT also tracks your SWOLF score. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically the score obtained by adding together the number of swim strokes per pool length, and the time it took to swim that length. For instance, 30 seconds and 10 strokes to swim the length of a pool will equal a SWOLF score of 40. A lower score is better.
The 920XT is designed for use with the 4 main swimming strokes (Freestyle, Backstroke, Breast stroke, and Butterfly). However, the logging feature can track all strokes.
The 92oXT is equipped with call, email, and text notifications. Garmin Connect compatible for live tracking. These features along with swim tracking accuracy are why the Garmin 920XT is listed in the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
Recently released by Fibit, the Alta series looks to improve on the already successful Flex and Charge 2 offerings. It’s sleek design and customizable looks make it the perfect fitness tracker for long workouts or other gym activities.
- Track steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes
- See stats and time with a bright OLED tap display
- Automatically track how long and how well you sleep, and set a silent, vibrating alarm
- Personalize with interchangeable metal, leather and classic bands
- Get call, text and calendar notifications at a glance
Best Fitness Tracker 2018 Recap
Everything You Need to Know About Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability or HRV is a new feature that you might have seen available on some devices in the best fitness tracker 2018 list. You may be familiar with regular heart rate monitors, but HRV is completely different and can add another key element in tracking your health.
What is HRV and why is it important to make sure this feature is included on your next fitness tracker?
What is Heart Rate Variability or HRV?
You may be familiar with the typical heart rate sensor that just about every fitness tracker comes with these days, but heart rate variability is completely different and here’s why. HRV is essentially the interval between heartbeats which varies by user. A regular heart beat monitor measures the average heart beats per minute, while HRV measures the small fluctuations and variables between each beat. These smaller fluctuations are able to provide insight to a user’s overall physical well-being and if they are pushing themselves too hard. HRV decreases as the intensity of a workout increases.
Most people assume that steady, rhythmic heart beats, like that of a metronome, are a sign of a healthy heart, but this isn’t always true. The heart continually fluctuates due to the needs of your body and a more realistic and accurate reading of heart health is that of the variability of beats that it performs daily. The greater variability in the time gap between heart beats indicates a healthy, fit, well rested heart.
High HRV is the sign of a healthy heart. This is usually indicative of an autonomic nervous system that promotes relaxation, digestion, sleep, and recovery. Low HRV is considered unhealthy and the nervous system is associated with stress, overtraining, and inflammation. Knowing your HRV levels goes way beyond regular heart beat monitoring. It gives a glimpse into your overall health, possible risk for coronary disease, and risk of heart attacks.
Applications Where HRV Monitoring is Beneficial
HRV is being used specifically by top sports athletes and trainers to accurately monitor their workout activity, rest and recovery levels, and prevent overtraining and potential injury. But why should they have all the fun? You can monitor your HRV as well and get this all important information to use in your daily routine. More data is always better when it comes to fitness monitoring and health, so take advantage of the HRV feature that are available in the devices reviewed in the best fitness tracker 2018 list.
What HRV Fitness Trackers are Available?
Since HRV tracking is still relatively new, the Fitness tracker market isn’t flooded with HRV capable devices just yet. I expect that to change though, and HRV will soon be as common as a regular heart beat monitor or step tracker. HRV monitors require specialized sensors that are more sensitive because the fluctuations between heart beats are more difficult to track.
Below is a list of fitness trackers currently offering the HRV feature:
- Garmin 920XT
- Garmin 910XT
- Garmin Fenix 3
- Garmin Forerunner 620
- Fitbit Charge 2
- Jaybird Reign
Fitness Monitors Capable of HRV:
- Polar H7
- Wahoo TICKR
- 4iiii Viiiiva
- Zephyr HxM (Bluetooth 4.0 )
- Cardiosport TP3
- Suunto Smart Belt
- R1 Blue Sigma Sport
- Garmin Premium
Popular HRV Monitoring Apps:
- Fibit Relax App
- HRV4 Training
What is Vo2 Max?
Vo2 max is one of the many features available in the activity trackers covered in the best fitness tracker 2018 review. Vo2 max isn’t a new feature in the world of fitness, but it is for the recreational user. It was first utilized by professional athletes, but has now become mainstream.
Vo2 max is the measure of the volume of Oxygen (O2) into the blood. The transfer rate of O2 reaches a peak when your workout is at its most intense, thus resulting in your Vo2 max. It’s the point at which the oxygen in your blood has maxed out (measured in mL/O2 per Kg).
If you are in great shape, your Vo2 max level will be higher since your body is conditioned for intense workouts and maximum oxygen levels. That’s what makes Vo2 max such a great feature to track your overall fitness.
Do you need a Vo2 max Fitness Tracker?
So you already have a heart rate tracker and a whole bunch of other tracking features, would knowing your Vo2 max be beneficial? The short answer is Yes. While heart rate monitors are great, they aren’t extremely accurate across all levels. Vo2 max is a way to measure your overall fitness in a way heart rate tracking alone just cannot match.
Vo2 Max Fitness Trackers
- Fitbit Charge 2
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT
- Garmin Forerunner 630
- Fenix 3 HR
Waterproof Fitness Trackers
You may have seen that every activity tracker listed in the best fitness tracker 2018 review has an IP or ATM rating associated with it. What does IP or ATM mean and why should you be concerned with it?
IP stands for Ingress Protection Rating and it’s the universal standard for assigning value to a devices overall ability to withstand external elements like water and dust. Manufactures like Samsung use the IP rating system.
A typical rating you might see listed for a fitness wristband is IP68, which just so happens to be the highest IP ranking that a fitness band can have. The first digit “6” denotes the protection from solids like dusts or debris. The second digit “8” signifies protection from liquids. The IP ranking for a fitness watch is graded on a scale of 0 to 6 for solids, and 0 to 8 for liquids (with 6 and 8 being the highest protection, respectively).
IP Ratings for Waterproof Fitness Trackers
Solids (First digit Listed in the IP rating)
- 0 – Not protected against solids
- 1 – Protected against objects great than 50mm (large surfaces)
- 2 – Protected against objects greater than 12.5 mm (finger size or pen)
- 3 – Protected against objects greater than 2.5mm (thick wires)
- 4 – Protected against objects greater than 1 mm (small wires)
- 5 – Protected against dust. Dust may still enter, but not to the degree with which it hampers the operation efficiency of the fitness wristband.
- 6 – Complete Dust Protection. Wristband is impervious to Dust Penetration.
Liquids (Second Digit Listed in the IP rating)
- 0 – No protection against liquids
- 1 – Protection against dripping water
- 2 – Protection from dripping water at 15 degree angle
- 3 – Protection against spraying water
- 4 – Protection against splashing water
- 5 – Protection against water jets
- 6- Protection against strong water jets (12.5mm nozzle)
- 7 – Can be submerged up to 1 meter or 3 feet
- 8 – Can be submerged beyond 1 meter or 3 feet
ATM stands for atmospheres, and is another protection rating system used by some of the most popular fitness tracker manufactures such as Fitbit, Garmin, and the Pebble Watch.
Both the IP and ATM rating systems work to inform the consumer on the level of protection they can expect from the elements, but there is no official governing body requiring any manufacturer to use any one rating system. So as you can imagine, the IP ratings and ATM ratings availability vary by device. Garmin, Fitbit, and the Pebble Watch are three of the most popular fitness wristband companies that use the ATM standard.
The ATM rating system is defined by levels of pressure resistance. Each device is subjected to external pressures they would receive when fully immersed in water and then given a rating. Each ATM is equal to 10 meters of water depth (or about 33 feet).
List of Fitness Tracker ATM Rankings
- 1 ATM – Can withstand pressures of 10 meters. Not ideal for swimming or showering.
- 3 ATM – Can withstand pressures up to 30 meters. Can withstand rain, splashes, and showering, but not designed to be submerged.
- 5 ATM – Can withstand pressures of 50 meters. Rain, Showering, Swimming, and light submersion are all fine.
- 10 ATM – Can withstand pressures up to 100 meters. Rain, Showering, Swimming, moderate submersion. No deep water sports.
- 20 ATM – Rain, Showering, Swimming, Action Sports, Diving. No scuba.
Waterproof Ratings for Popular Fitness Trackers
- Fitbit Surge Fitness Super Watch – 5 ATM
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT – 5 ATM
- Apple Watch Nike + – 5 ATM
- Fitbit Charge 2 – 1 ATM
- Apple Watch 2 – 5 ATM
- Garmin Forerunner 35 – 5 ATM
- Misfit Shine 2 – 5 ATM
- Samsung Gear Fit 2 – IP68
- TomTom Spark 3 – 5 ATM
- Fitbit Charge – 1 ATM
- Fitbit Flex 2 – 5 ATM
- Fitbit Flex – 1 ATM
- Garmin Approach S6 – 5 ATM
- Garmin Forerunner 920XT – 5 ATM
Are Fitness Trackers Waterproof?
If you see a fitness tracker listed as fully waterproof, don’t believe it. It doesn’t exist. All fitness bands available today and listed in the best fitness tracker 2018 review are water resistant only. As you can see from the IP and ATM ratings, some fitness watches are more resistant than others, but all have their limitations. If you want a fitness band that will withstand most applications to water, then make sure it has the IP68 or 5 ATM rating. Anything less and you should make it a priority to remove your fitness band if it may come in contact with water.
Summing It Up
The fitness tracker market has really come alive lately and should continue as the popularity grows. As the technology improves, so will greater accuracy, features, and a more complete user experience. After reviewing all the devices in the best fitness tracker 2018 list and the options they provide, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. What was once a market for heart rate monitors, step trackers, and exercise trackers has evolved into GPS tracking, call+text notifications, and other high tech features.
Battery life is ever increasing and the ability to sync with devices has never been more compatible. The best path forward in deciding if you need a fitness tracker is determining what you intend to do with it. The accuracy of fitness trackers is not perfect, but they will provide a glimpse of your daily activity in a usable and meaningful manner. Expectations should be tapered as far as accuracy goes, and it’s to be expected that fitness trackers designed for running, like the Nike Watch +, will give you a better experience than a fitness tracker not specifically built for the task. Fitness trackers today are very capable devices with options to monitor just about anything, provide usable information, and allow you to make informed decisions regarding your workout routine.
The Best Fitness Tracker 2018 list identified 12 of the top fitness trackers currently on the market. The FitbBit Surge topped the list as the best all around fitness tracker with a great display, plenty of features, and affordability. Fitbit continues to offer quality products at good prices and is arguably the leader in fitness trackers right now. Garmin and Apple are not far behind though, and as the race to build that even better fitness tracker continues, expect big things from all three companies as well as others. Check back soon for more additions to the best fitness tracker 2018 reviews as new products are released.
Up Coming Releases:
Apple Watch 3
FitBit Surge 2
Fitbit Charge 3
Samsung Gear S4
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