Fitness trackers (also called activity trackers) are the latest trend in wearable technology. Fitness trackers track our daily activity, anything from how many steps we walk, our activity level, to how well we sleep. Many people have benefited from fitness trackers because it serves to reinforce healthier habits and gives personalized information pertaining to the body. In this post, we are going to review some of the best fitness trackers on the market that are around $100 and under (as of today, December 26, 2014).
Why Get a Activity or Fitness Tracker?
We as a society are more sedentary now than at any other moment in history. This sedentary lifestyle has led to an upsurge in obesity (at 40%) and an increase in related health problems. The activity tracker serves as a way to reinforce us to get our bodies back to its natural habits, which is movement throughout the day. The human body is not built to be sedentary; our ancestors had to walk upwards of 12 miles a day. We learn best and feel best when we are exercising, or at least moving. Fitness trackers serves as positive reinforcement and have helped many people get into healthier habits and lose excess weight. It has also helped people pick healthier eating habits as well as sleep better.
Fitness trackers are made to be extremely light so you won’t notice that you are wearing it most of the time. At most, the trackers will weigh 1/5 of a pound, which is much lighter than a common wrist watch.
What the Fitness Trackers Have in Common
All the fitness trackers reviewed below have pretty much the same basic functions. Here are the basic features that come with all the fitness trackers reviewed below:
- Step counter with a goal monitor
- Food logger
- Calorie expenditure logger
- Sleep tracker: The sleep tracker will track your sleep pattern during your sleep and the app will let you know how well you slept by breaking down your sleep to either deep sleep or light sleep.
- Integration with 3rd party software such as MyFitnessPal
With that said, here is a table of all the advanced features of the fitness trackers reviewed in an easy-to-read comparison chart. If you want to read further about the pros and cons of each activity tracker, scroll down below the chart to read.
Note: The wake up alarm in the morning will wake you up gradually, during the lightest part of your sleep so you don’t feel groggy upon waking up.
Pros and Cons of Each Tracker
You can’t talk about fitness trackers without talking about the Fitbit. Fitbit products are the most well-known and popular in the fitness tracking market. The price of the Fitbit has gone down considerably within the last couple of years, and accuracy in tracking has increased. The Fitbit Flex is now sold for just under $100 on Amazon.
Pros: Aesthetically pleasing design with a big third-party software ecosystem. The social aspect of the software (where you can have challenges with your friends) is useful and fun. The food logger lets you scan the barcode instead of manually entering in the information.
Cons: A little bulkier for women with smaller wrists. The step counter is not as accurate as the Jawbone UP 24.
Weight: 0.5 ounces
Battery life: 7 days
Jawbone UP 24
The Jawbone UP 24 has a nifty “power nap” feature which lets you take a quick nap while the UP 24 will let you sleep through one whole sleep cycle before waking you up during the beginning of the next cycle (when you are least groggy).
Pros: The popular opinion seems to be that the Jawbone software is way ahead of its competitors (such as Nike and Fitbit Flex) and is the reason why many people opt to go for the UP 24 instead of the Fitbit Flex. The stats for your sleep are highly comprehensive and easy to read. Food logger comes with a scanner so you can scan barcode into your food logger.
Cons: A common complaint for the Jawbone is that it is a little bulky and a little heavier than other fitness trackers. Thus, those who have small wrists might have some initial discomfort. Also, there is no altimeter, so you are unable to track elevation.
Weight: 0.8 ounces
Battery life: 7 days
Withings Pulse O2
The Withings Pulse O2 is a activity monitor that can also serve as a watch with its large display screen that can display numerous stats (including the time). At the moment of this writing, it is a little pricier than the other fitness trackers, but the reason is that it has features that the other fitness trackers reviewed in this post do not have, mainly the heart rate (HR) monitor and the O2 (oxygen) monitor.
Pros: This fitness tracker also tracks elevation/stairs. The modular design of the Pulse O2 lets you wear the device several ways: you can wear it on your wrist like a watch, wear it on your belt, or put it in your pocket. Thus, your wrists don’t have to move in order for you to track your steps. This fitness tracker also has a large display touch screen, so you do not need to go on your phone or computer to see your fitness and activity stats. The sleep tracking is very accurate. This activity tracker has a heart rate monitor and blood oxygen levels, which the other ones don’t.
Con: It is kind of hard to see the display during sunlight. The HR monitoring is not constant and you have to take the device off the wrist to monitor your heart rate (and blood oxygen levels). Unlike the other activity trackers, the Pulse 02 does not have an alarm. This fitness tracker is not waterproof, so you will be unable to take it swimming.
Weight: 0.28 ounces
Battery life: 7 days
The Garmin Vivofit comes in two versions, one with a heart rate monitor and one without. This activity tracker comes with an inactivity monitor, which alerts you if you have been inactive for too long. The default is set for an hour but additional alerts can be set up for 15 minutes. The battery for this device is not chargeable, but the batteries will last up to a year before changing; the batteries used are two small watch batteries. If you have different Garmin products, such as a separate heart monitor or a gps watch, the devices will sync and give you an overall picture of your health.
Pros: Always on display. Long battery life without recharge. Inactivity monitor. A must-have if you have other Garmin products.
Cons: Does not track elevation. The user interface is lacking.