Last updated on May 7th, 2018 at 02:23 pm
The use of activity trackers at work is booming. The town I work in has launched a Town-wide step challenge for the month of June and it’s inspired people to get stepping. Many are asking “How do you choose the right activity tracker? I’ve answered this question for some of my coworkers, and thought that if they are asking this questions, perhaps there are many out there asking the same question. How do you choose the right activity tracker?
I started using an activity tracker about 3 years ago. The Nike Fuelband SE is the one I picked at the time but it is no longer manufactured. I bought it mostly because it was easily available and the price was in my affordability range. It didn’t take me long though to figure out that it didn’t have enough of the features that I wanted or needed.
Why I tell you this story? Well, I want to help you avoid buyers remorse 2 months after you’ve bought your new fitness tracker. I found that there is no fitness tracker that does it all. You have to find the one that will be right for you.
Here is how to choose the right activity tracker:
Today, I break down what kind of activity trackers are right the 3 types of people, the average person, the athletic, the serious/professional
Activity tracker for the average person
The most basic activity tracker will most likely do if you consider yourself an average person. If you are looking for something that will track your daily steps, counts your calories burned and maybe track your sleep, than you fall under this category.
For the average person, you’ll want to consider these factors in the wearable technology you choose, step counting, activity tracking and sleep tracking.
All activity trackers, at their very basic, counts steps. If that’s all you need, you can get a pedometer, a small inexpensive electronic device that clips somewhere on your body that will record your steps as you move. However, most people want something more, something that will connect to their phones and that will give them a few more stats.
Activity trackers go beyond just counting steps. Most will allow you to log different workout types to get a full picture of your activity levels. They will also measure how long you’ve been inert and prompt you to get up and walk around.
Also, most basic activity trackers measure sleep. Now, sleep tracking varies greatly from brand to brand. Some will be advanced enough to detect wake phases of sleep. More advanced sleep trackers will even measure REM, light and deep sleep and so on. You will, however, need to wear your tracker on your wrist at night to get accurate sleep tracking.
If you wonder if you get your full 8 hours sleep, then you’ll want a good sleep tracker on your activity tracker.
Here are some examples of a fitness tracker that’s right for the average person:
Although I don’t own a Fitbit, I would recommend the brand because it is the most popular. I know many people with a Fitbit and they are quite pleased. Also, since the most popular brand, you’ll easily find friends, family or coworkers to challenge through the Fitbit app. It’s very popular at work lately!
Don’t have a Fitbit? You might be interested in a earlier post I wrote about Stridekick, the app where Apple, Fitbit & Garmin meet.
Activity tracker for the athletic
So you like to train and compete in races? You most likely fall in this category if you go beyond just walking. If you like to run and train for races, like to swim, or bike or take part in vigorous activities than you fall in tis category. You will need an activity tracker that will be slightly more advanced than your average person. I fall under this category.
Stand alone GPS
You’ll want more reliable accuracy, so you’ll most likely need something with a stand alone GPS. Why you need this? A stand along GPS will give more accurate speed and distance measurements when outdoors.
Why do you want a heart rate monitor? Heart rate monitors allow Heart Rate based training so that you know if you are running in the right heart zone. A heart rate monitor will also calculate your calories burned more accurately.
In my opinion, I’ll put heart monitor as a nice to have, but some might disagree and say that’s it’s a must have. My current Garmin VivoActive Smart watch does not have a built-in heart monitor, however I can get an external one which, from my research are more accurate than the built-in heart monitors anyway.
Multi-sport watches lets you track your activities across different spots, such as running,cycling, swimming and some even track golf.
The more advanced runners will need watches that calculate more sophisticated data such as speed, pace, cadence and aerobic and anaerobic threshold values. If this means nothing to you, then perhaps this isn’t the right activity tracker for you because trackers with those features will cost more.
Example of great activity trackers that fall under the group “athletic” include:
You might be interested in my review of my Garmin VivoActive Smart Watch.
Activity tracker for the professional
Serious or professional athletes strive get more efficient as athletes. They rely on concrete data. If you are a professional athlete, you’ll want to calculate all kinds of stats, so you’ll need to fork out a bit more money for more accurate results. The activity tracker they are looking for will contain the same feature as the “athletic” category, with extra features. Some of the stats a pro will likely want include:
According to Garmin, VO2 Max is the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute per kilogram of body weight a your maximum performance, or simpler said, it’s an indication of athletic performance.
Cadence is how many steps per minute you take, or revolution per minute. The magic number, according to my Tri Coach last summer was 90 revolution per minute, which translates to 180 steps per minute. If you want to read more about cadence, I found this great article, Running Cadence: Why it Matters and How to Improve Yours you might be interested in.
Ground Contact time
Another metric that this group might be interested in would be ground contact time. This is how much time your foot spends on the ground on each step.
Another metric that could tell a professional about his performance would be his vertical oscillation. Vertical oscillation is the amount of bounce in your step.
For multisport users, such as triathletes might need extra add ons to the watch to measure their activity, such as an external heart monitor, a stride sensor or a bike sensor
Listed below are some of examples of the most advanced activity trackers out there.
So, there you have my list. Tell me (in a comment below) where do you fall, are you average (and there is no shame in that), are you athletic, or are you a pro? What kind of activity tracker do you have and does it fit your needs? Do you agree with my list?
If you have an activity tracker, read Secret ways to add steps to your day.
Motivate Me Monday LinkUp
Please join Janice and myself for our link-up if you want to share your fitness or nutrition plans and stay motivated too!Link up with @salads4lunch & @runmommyrunca #MotivateMe Monday if you need some motivation! Click To Tweet
I’m totally lacking motivation lately! Please help me stay accountable Here is what I wanted to do last week, but didn’t get to do much of it, so here goes to another week:
Tuesday: 5 km run at lunch
Wednesday: 30 min Trek Fit
Thursday: 5 Km run at lunch
Saturday: 6 or 7 km run
Sunday: Yoga, stretching, foam rolling
PLEASE JOIN THE #MOTIVATEME LINK UP!
THE RULES ARE VERY SIMPLE:
- Every Monday share your fitness, nutrition plan etc by linking them up. All you will need is your post’s URL, and a photo you would like to attach.
- Posts that aren’t related will be deleted.
- In your post, we would love it if you mentioned that you’re participating in #MotivateMe Monday link up, and link back to the hosts Salads4Lunch and Run Mommy Run.
Read what the other linkers are sharing, Visit at least 2 other bloggers’ posts and share some support by commenting and engaging with each other. The more you support, the more support you will get back.