Getting fit and healthier can be tough, but wearables, such as fitness bands and smart watches can help by tracking your daily steps, and the distance you run, cycle and swim.
This information is sent via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, where you can view a daily breakdown, track improvement over time and get tips. There are various types of trackers available, let us help you find the right one for you.
For the fitness novice
A good choice if: You want to become healthier, so you want something that tracks your steps so you can hit that 10,000-step goal, along with tracking the odd cycle, run or swim.
A dedicated fitness band is a good option, as it shows calories burnt, active minutes, distance, sleep and some may include heart-rate monitoring. The sole job of these devices is to track fitness, so they aren’t as feature-rich as a smartwatch. They'll lack a touchscreen, although some advanced models will show notifications, and are typically made from plastic.
Consider: A good beginner's option is the waterproof Huawei Band 2 Pro, which includes heart-rate monitoring - a bonus at a comparatively affordable price point. For more advanced features the Fitbit Charge 3 tracks heart rate, swims, can display notifications and even make payments. Wearable technology website Wareable named it Fitness Tracker of the Year.
For the smartphone lover
A good choice if: You want to track fitness, but you also want phone capability on your wrist.
A smartwatch is the best choice for you. These are essentially mini-computers that can display messages, show calendar and app notifications, receive calls, play music and make contactless payments. Often made from premium materials and coming with a choice of straps, smartwatches look more like traditional timepieces than sports accessories and usually have a colour touchscreen with faces you can customise using the associated app.
For the traditional timepiece fan
A good choice if: You want something more advanced than a fitness band to track exercise such as step counting, heart-rate monitoring and GPS but you want the look and feel of a traditional analogue watch.
A hybrid smartwatch is the device to go for. You forgo the the large digital display of a dedicated smartwatch for a traditional clock face, but the styling is more elegant and the battery will last much longer
Consider: The stainless steel cased Withings Steel HR (above) comes in black or white faces with a tiny digital screen for displaying like call alerts, app notifications and more. Alternatively Fossil’s Hybrid Smartwatch comes in black or blush pink with leather strap and despite including a built-in fitness tracker. Fossil says it doesn’t need to be charged, you just replace the watch battery after six months.
For more advanced cyclists and swimmers
A good choice if: You've had a fitness band for a while and want something more advanced, or you are a running or cycling enthusiast looking for a wearable that really lets you analyse your results in detail.
A dedicated sports watch is what you need. They have features like GPS for accurately tracking distance and pace, and a heart-rate monitor to evaluate your performance. Battery life is important, particularly if you plan on using it for long runs and cycles, so look for the number of hours the battery will last in GPS mode.
Consider: The highly-rated Garmin Forerunner 935 has a 24-hour GPS mode, while the new Forerunner Music 645 (14 hours in GPS mode) lets you download 500 songs to pair with Bluetooth headphones to listen on the go. Elsewhere the Polar M430 (8 hours in GPS mode) and Garmin Forerunner 35 (13 hours in GPS mode) are more affordable options.
For the swimmer
A good choice if: You swim - whether it's churning out lengths in the pool, braving open water or triathlon training, You want something to measure distance, stroke length and time - and it has to be water-resistant!
Opt for a general fitness tracker or smartwatch, and crucially one with waterproof capabilities and a dedicated swimming mode - just being splashproof is not enough. The ATM (atmospheres) rating is what you need to look for - 3 ATM means it can withstand pressure equivalent to 30 metres, while 5 ATM means it can withstand pressure equivalent to 50 metres.
Consider: The Fitbit Versa (5 ATM) and Garmin Forerunner 935 (5 ATM) are smartwatch options, while a more affordable choice is the Moov Now (3 ATM), a fitness band that tracks laps, stroke length and also offers coaching advice.