Fitness Trackers: Pros, Cons, and Comparisons

Unless you are someone who keeps tabs on the fitness-tech world, most people are not familiar with all of the different options there are for a fitness tracker.

Are there viable options beyond Fitbit, Apple, and Garmin?

While trying to decide which features you most desire to compliment your type of activity, deciding which model to go with may be equally challenging.

I’ve compiled a list of the arguably better options that are currently available without too much hunting.

I’ll provide a brief rundown of what each of the main features are, while giving you an idea of what you should look for depending on your desired outcome.

I have also compiled a handy-dandy chart to show you what models have so you can do an easier side-by-side comparison.

Techradar.com, a popular tech blog, recently published their official top 10 list of the best fitness trackers of 2018.

The tracker that claimed the number one spot was one I have never seen in person, and have barely heard anything about since its conception in 2015.

“Moov Now” is the one fitness tracker that does not look like the others.

While it doesn’t have a screen or track your heart rate, it has a whopping 6 month battery life and can track your steps, circuit training, swimming and even boxing with incredible accuracy.

There are also guided workouts pre-programmed into the app with enough levels to challenge even higher level athletes, and the waterproof design allows you to accurately track your swimming which is something not found in most other fitness trackers. 

Some reviews have mentioned that although the app to accompany this device is clean and easy to use, it lacks customization and training plans.

The sleep tracking aspect is reportedly a little inaccurate, with the added bonus of a robotic voice and sounds to let you know it’s working (I thought we got rid of Speak-and-Spells?!) that also talks you through each guided workout. 

Based on multiple reviews, trials, and tests, I have come up with the top 5 most accurate fitness trackers:

Coming in at number one is the aforementioned Moov Now. It will accurately track your steps and movement for running, walking, swimming, and even boxing!

No sleep tracker will be completely accurate, but this tracker does a fairly good job. Number two goes to the Fitbit Charge 2, which lacks some features of other chargers and will be replaced in October 2018 by the Fitbit Charge 3, but does track your steps with great accuracy.

In third place we have the Garmin Vivofit 4, which automatically tracks your steps with good accuracy even when switching from a walk to a jog. It is important to note that this tracker is only intended for basic use, and lacks a lot of features found in other models, but its big claim to fame is the battery life: 365 days.

Next in line at number four is also from Garmin, the Vivosmart 3. While its tracking is not as accurate for running, it performs very well at the gym.

Holding fifth place is the Garmin Vivosport (I notice a pattern starting…).

While it doesn’t track swimming, it does track running, walking, sleeping, cycling and a range of other activities with good accuracy and doesn’t drain its battery life. 

The Specifics The most commonly sought-after features in a fitness band are Heart Rate Monitoring (HR), GPS, Swimming, climbing, waterproof, calorie tracking, screen, phone integration, and multi-sport/sport specific tracking.

Typically, the more you are looking for, the more the price increases.

The big differences between prices will usually be because of GPS and HR, as they require extra sensors and more complex technology.

How do they rank? There are plenty of more fitness bands and trackers available, including smart watches that also have fitness tracking capabilities.

This list excludes smart watches, and by no means covers the vast array of options available to you.

These are the commonly sold and easily available models specific to the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.

A Cautionary Tale As a math-lover and someone who likes to see hard data and facts, tracking fitness is something that makes sense to my brain.

Setting numeric goals for number of steps, distance, calories burned, and watching how your fitness changes over time can be a very useful and rewarding system.

That being said, don’t over-invest yourself into those numbers.

Without being careful, obsessively tracking any aspect of your life can lead to mental health issues, can become a restrictive lifestyle, and also lead you to ignore your body’s natural signals (such as your natural fluctuation of caloric needs, or a sore knee that you can’t “walk off”).

Jessica Penner, a registered dietician, has written about counting calories specifically, stating that “there’s no evidence that counting calories helps people lose weight AND KEEP IT OFF.

At best, it’s a short-term solution that might help people take weight off and educate them on the caloric density found in different foods.

At worst, it sabotages your relationship with food, and is associated with binge eating, yoyo dieting, a higher BMI, and lowered health indicators.”

Does this mean that counting calories is pointless? No. It is just a cautionary ‘be careful’.

If you want to read more from Jessica and her belief in a joyful relationship with food, check her out at smartnutrition.ca

The main thing to remember with tracking your fitness is to avoid all-or-nothing thinking.

Catherine Silver, a psychotherapist in NYC, said in an interview with HelloGiggles  that “If the idea of not having [the fitness tracker] is causing any anxieties, that’s a huge indicator that it’s not a healthy relationship”.

She goes on to explain that some people rely on their tracker technology to tell you what your body needs, rather than listening to it yourself.

Focusing on the inside out as opposed to outside in is very important, and failing to do so can lead to a lack of mindfulness and awareness of your body.

“People start to follow what the app is telling them to do — either with their intake or the amount of exercise they are doing — rather than listening to and honoring what their body is telling them,” she said in the same interview.

In short, have your numbers work for you – not the other way around.

Tracking what and how you do is a great tool, but should not be used as a be-all-end-all.

Enjoy your new tech and what it can do for you, and most importantly, have fun!

Do you have any questions about fitness trackers, how to best accomplish your fitness goals while using your new tech, or how to prevent injury?

Which tracking feature do you rely on the most?

Let us know by leaving a comment! 

Wishing you all the best on your fitness goals,

​Chelsea Simo Social Media Coordinator, Office Administrator Strive Physiotherapy & Performance ​

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MIKE MAJOR, PT

BSc Kinesiology, University of Waterloo MSc PT, McMaster University

Physiotherapist

Born in Lahr, Germany

Mike treats people of all activity levels and ages from weekend warriors to elite athletes. He has mentored physiotherapists across Ontario as well as worked on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association. Recently, Mike represented physiotherapists within the Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games Medical Services Expert Provider Group. Mike has also had the opportunity to work side by side with orthopaedic surgeons, allowing him to work with many people following complex and traumatic injuries. Mike also consults over 1,000 physiotherapy cases nationally. This has given him a lot of insight into what Physiotherapy looks like across Canada.    

Prior to becoming a physiotherapist, Mike served in the reserves for 9 years as a member of the Artillery in the Canadian Armed Forces. He also enjoys coaching local athletes to help improve their performance through MeFit, a local not-for-profit organization.

What Really Matters...

Cats or dogs?

Dogs.

Worst idea you've ever had?

Skiing behind a car.

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Rat Tail

Do you have any kids?

A baby named Maverick.

Last book you read?

Together is Better: A little Book of Inspiration

Most useless talent you have?

Sewing

 

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A multitool, My Wife, and our baby

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A multitool, My Wife, and our baby

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Most likely to get stuff done

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Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

 

“It’s not the size of dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”