How to Know What Fitness Tracker Works For You (and What Doesn’t)

Find the perfect fitness tracker for you.

With so many fitness trackers on the market—and no shortage of reviews and opinions from people who own them—choosing just one can be hard. But the most important thing is to find a fitness tracker that works for you, because at the end of the day, the point of wearing one is to inspire you to get out there and get active.

Michele Olson, also known as “The Exercise Doctor,” says fitness trackers are worthwhile if you have the right expectations. “People who are most likely to use fitness trackers are those who care about their health and those who care their workouts,” she explains. “While it would be great to track every calorie in even the smallest morsel of food or record exactly every single spin revolution in an indoor cycling class, fitness trackers are not that pinpoint precise. They can provide worthwhile estimates of calories in and out, or the amount of exercise done depending on the tracker’s options.”

To determine which fitness tracker will work for you, think about what your end goal is. Is properly tracking your calorie burn the top priority? Do you want to be able to track your sleep or steps taken during the day?

Here are some benefits of the top fitness trackers on the market, so that you can find which one will suit your lifestyle.  

If you’re a social butterfly

FitBit

Engage in a little friendly competition using the FitBit app. You can challenge friends who also have the app to daily or weekly competitions on how many steps you’ve taken. It may sound silly, but a little competition with friends can be just what you need to get out there and get moving. FitBit totally nailed the social aspect of fitness, and is now one of the most popular trackers out there. There’s one for everyone—from the Flex, which looks like a simple black band with no watch face, to the newest device, the Alta. The Alta face shows you daily steps, miles walked, calorie burn and, according to your needs, can even sync to your phone to receive text notifications.

One of the customer favorites for any FitBit is the sleep tracking. Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important to your health as taking 10K steps a day, so the FitBit ranks as a top fitness motivator in the wearable technology category.        
Buy it now: FitBit, $100 and up

If you’re a major multitasker

Apple Watch Sport

This watch is for the major multitasker. Since the original Apple Watch was made as a companion to your iPhone, the advantages are constant access to your calendar, texts and phone (yes, you can actually answer calls from the watch without having to pick up your phone). Realizing that people think tracking their fitness is just as important as work, the good folks at Apple came out with a sport version that has all the benefits of the regular watch with the added ability to track steps taken, calories burned, and how many times you stand throughout the day. Previously, you could only use the Workout feature that comes with the watch, but a recent upgrade allows you to use cool Apple Watch-specific versions of fitness apps, like the popular MyFitnessPal or Pocket Yoga.

There are drawbacks, however. The biggest one? The battery life is the poorest of all the fitness trackers on the list. (It is an Apple product.) But because this is really like a phone on your wrist, you’ll have to cut them a little slack. The battery is working hard. You will have to charge every night, so no sleep tracking with this one.  
Buy it now: Apple, $300 and up 

If you’re a fitness newbie

Garmin Vivofit

One of the most affordable fitness trackers on the market, the Vivosmart is a great intro to wearable technologies or for those who just want basic step tracking. If all you need is a little motivation to get moving, this opening price point item could be what you’re looking for. It’s very simple looking and has a long battery life, so you almost never need to take it off.
Buy it now: Garmin, $79.99 

If you’re in to water sports

Misfit Ray

The Misfit Ray is giving the Jawbone a run for its money in appearance. You might be surprised to find that the slim bracelet-like tracker does more than the usual sleep monitoring, steps taken, calories burned, etc. It is also waterproof up to 50 meters so you can wear while swimming.  
Buy it now: Misfit, $100

Lisa Bensley is the founder of BeautyByBenz, a health and beauty blog that is really just an excuse to buy too much makeup. When she is not writing, she's probably boxing, obsessing over her Dachshund, Stanley, reading, or binge-watching Law & Order: SVU. Follow her (and Stanley's) antics on Instagram.