Fitness trackers are everywhere! You’ve seen them on your friends wrists, strangers wrist, and athlete’s wrists. Some are clipped to shirt sleeves and sneaker laces. You may ask yourself, “Do I need one of those to help me with my fitness goals?” Hopefully the following information will help you decide.

Fitness trackers come in a few styles.  There are watch and bracelet styles to wear on your wrist. Some have full screens that show all the functions and others just show the basic information like steps and heart rate. The clip on style- which you attach to your sleeve, collar, waistband or shoelaces- does not have the capacity to track as much as the watch/bracelet types.  They usually track the basic heart rate and steps. The watch and bracelet style are best for rigorous workouts as they will not budge from your wrist, while the clip on styles are better for walkers and low impact workouts.

The majority of trackers have to be synced with an online app to access the information captured on them which you can download on your phone or computer. Beware that some do require you to have your phone on hand during your workout in order to sync the data captured. Some fitness trackers track 1 or 2 basic features (steps you take and heart rate) while others include these basics plus more advanced functions like active calories burned, passive calories burned, GPS capabitlies, sleep cycles, calories consumed, minutes standing, and some may track your workout with any of the preloaded workouts installed.  Price points can range from basic clip on models going for as little as $19.99 to more expensive models that boast all the bells and whistles listed above, which can top out upwards of $300. Some do require chest bands in order to capture heart rate for an accurate calorie burn count.

Doing your homework before you buy will help you decide what information you want to track and can help you choose the type of tracker which best suits your needs.  You can try some trackers before you buy them buy using a service called Lumoid.  Paying $35 for a week lets you try 3 trackers (fees subject to change). Don’t be confused by smartwatches and fitness trackers.  Some fitness trackers have smartwatch functions and some smartwatches have fitness tracker functions.  Be sure to get all the facts before you take the plunge.

In addition, you can always use the fitness tracking functions on the cardio machines you use at the gym.  Most have a calorie count, heart rate, and distance tracking. There are also quite a few fitness Apps on the internet you can download which do not require a fitness tracker to use.  Whichever way you chose to keep track of your workouts, you will find it a useful tool to help keep you on “track.”

*some information compiled from PC Magazine.

This article is intended to provide general knowledge of health and fitness principles and should not be taken as medical advice or used to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor or licensed healthcare provider for personalized advice on diet and exercise.