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Fitness trackers include a wide range of products. Some merely count steps, whereas others monitor daily activities, measure sleep, track calorie burn, and offer health tips through an app.
The best fitness tracker for a person depends on their health goals and budget, as well as the specific fitness activities or health metrics that they wish to track.
In this article, we discuss how fitness trackers can benefit people and the conditions for which they could provide meaningful data. We then provide more information about four of the best fitness trackers available to buy.
Different fitness trackers monitor different behaviors and metrics. Trackers offer several benefits, including:
- tracking activity, including calories burned
- monitoring sleep
- monitoring heart rate
Seeing these numbers may motivate people to make more healthful decisions. A fitness tracker may also help some individuals identify a previously unnoticed symptom or understand how their lifestyle affects their health.
People who use fitness trackers should consider that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate these devices. Their readings are not always reliable, and the metrics that they track are not necessarily the most significant measures of fitness or health.
Before trying a fitness tracker to monitor their health, a person should discuss specific metrics and the best options for tracking them with their doctor.
A fitness tracker cannot detect diabetes, but it may help those with a confirmed diagnosis manage their symptoms, eat a healthful diet, and become or continue to be physically active. People with diabetes who lose weight may experience fewer symptoms, so trackers could be especially helpful and motivating.
A fitness tracker that monitors heart rate may detect heart arrhythmia. Some fitness trackers can also monitor blood pressure. This feature could be particularly helpful for pregnant people and those with high blood pressure.
Some fitness trackers that record sleep behavior may help monitor certain conditions, such as asthma. In a 2020 study in females with asthma, nighttime wakings predicted changes in lung function. A sleep tracker was able to monitor these changes, making it a useful tool for daily asthma self-management.
Some fitness trackers keep track of nighttime wakings. This monitoring can help a person detect sleep disorders and better understand their energy levels. In some people, frequent night waking may be a sign of sleep apnea or, in other cases, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
People hoping to achieve a moderate body weight, whether through weight loss or gain, may find fitness trackers helpful. They can also help people maintain a certain weight in the long term. Many devices monitor the number of calories that people burn through exercise and measure other factors that are important for weight management.
People who are not trying to gain or lose weight may not usually monitor their weight. However, a fitness tracker that measures activity levels may support a diagnosis of some conditions, such as cancer or type 1 diabetes, which can both cause unexplained weight loss.
The best fitness trackers measure many health metrics, with some including blood pressure and heart rate monitoring.
Please note that no one at Medical News today, including the writer, has tried these products. All information is research-based.
Apple Watch Series 6
The latest Apple Watch offers a number of functions, including sleep monitoring, fall detection, access to emergency support, fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, and an activity ring that monitors daily movement patterns.
Unlike earlier versions of the watch, updated versions do not require a phone to work. The Apple Watch Series 6 is waterproof.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 looks more like a traditional watch and offers features that include a blood pressure monitor. This inclusion makes it a good option for people with heart disease who want to track their blood pressure throughout the day.
Users can get an electrocardiogram (EKG) reading to assess heart electrical activity, sleep patterns, and daily activity levels. The battery lasts longer than a day, and the watch is water-resistant.
Fitbit Charge 3
The Charge 3 offers 15 different exercise modes. People can track their activities, monitor their sleep habits, and get personalized fitness guidance. It is water-resistant and offers constant heart rate monitoring. It does not include blood pressure readings, though.
According to Garmin, the Vivoactive is waterproof, with an 8-day battery life and sleep tracking capabilities. It also has a color touch screen and an intuitive interface. Users can access a wide range of preselected workouts to suit their fitness goals and ability level.
The Garmin Vivoactive has a responsive screen and a wide range of functions.
There is no perfect fitness tracker. Instead, the best fitness tracker depends on a person’s overall health and the metrics they hope to monitor. Once a person has the data they seek, they may use this information to discuss health conditions and symptoms with a medical provider.