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Running watches are a convenient way for people to monitor their physical activity and track their progress toward their fitness and health goals. People looking to purchase a running watch online can choose from several brands.

Physical activity can boost physical and mental well-being, as well as preventing serious health conditions. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that only 1 in 2 adults in the United States exercises enough to see these benefits.

This article explains what to look for in a running watch and lists seven models that people can consider. It also looks at how running can benefit overall health.

A running watch is a piece of wearable technology that a person can use to track their fitness. Most running watches have GPS capability, with many providing maps that show street names. Other models track altitude and air pressure.

Running watches provide real-time information on an individual’s vital signs, such as:

  • heart rate
  • running cadence, or number of steps per minute
  • distance traveled
  • speed
  • pace

Individuals may find that tracking their progress with a running watch strengthens their commitment to physical activity.

People training for a specific event, such as a half or full marathon, can use a running watch to guide them through different workouts in preparation. Some runners might use a running watch to track their metrics, check their recovery needs, and look for areas to improve, such as their cadence or consistency of pace.

Running watches can be expensive, especially if they have additional features. Individuals looking for a running watch should first determine what features are most important to them. They may wish to consider the following:

  • GPS accuracy and maps: Most running watches have GPS, but they may vary in terms of map styles and how easy the data are to read.
  • Types of activities: Some individuals will require their watch to track their biking, walking, swimming, surfing, or snowboarding activities in addition to their running metrics.
  • Battery life: People who exercise for longer periods may wish to purchase a watch with an extended battery life. A long battery life may also be useful for those who plan to use multiple apps simultaneously — for example, listening to music while using GPS.
  • Weight and comfort: Some people may prefer a watch that is lightweight and comfortable for all-day wear.
  • Music capability: Individuals who listen to music when working out may prefer to purchase a running watch that can also play music.

People interested in purchasing a running watch can choose from a range of options. Several models track fitness metrics, play music, and are compatible with smartphones. Below, we look at the seven of the top running watches available to purchase.

Please note that the writer has not tried these products. All information is research-based.

Garmin Forerunner 35

This waterproof running watch weighs 37.3 grams (g) and has a display screen that is 0.93 inches (in) by 0.93 in.

The company states that the battery lasts up to 9 days if a person uses this product as a smartwatch. If they select the GPS mode, the battery will last up to 13 hours.

The Garmin Forerunner 35 allows people to set up running profiles. People can use GPS to calculate the distance and pace of their workouts, and the product can provide the real-time number of steps per minute.

Additional features include:

  • step tracking
  • automated fitness goals
  • tracks calories burned, distance traveled, and intensity of workouts
  • activity history
  • cycling features, such as goal alerts and speed sensor support

Individuals can also download the Garmin Connect smartphone app, which is available on iOS and Android. This product will automatically upload fitness metrics to the app.

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is compatible with Android phones and iPhones, but only people who have an Android phone can stream music.

Polar M430

This waterproof running watch weighs 51 g.

The company states that the battery lasts for up to 14 days if a person only uses the heart rate tracker. If a person uses the heart rate tracker, has a daily workout session, and receives notifications, the battery will last up to 5 days. Using the GPS and optical heart rate functions will limit the battery life to a maximum of 8 hours.

The Polar M430 has the following features:

  • training programs for a variety of running events
  • 5-minute fitness test
  • running performance tracker
  • motivational training
  • recovery status information
  • daily, weekly, and monthly activity tracking
  • calorie and sleep tracking
  • heart rate tracker

The Polar M430 connects with PCs or Macs with a custom USB cable. Additionally, people can use Bluetooth to sync the data with their smartphones.

COROS PACE 2

This water-resistant running watch weighs 29–36 g, depending on the type of band a person chooses.

The company states that the COROS PACE 2 has a battery life of 20 days with regular use. The battery life reduces to 30 hours if a person uses GPS.

The COROS PACE 2 supports the following workouts:

  • run, indoor run, and track run
  • bike and indoor bike
  • pool swim and open water
  • triathlon
  • gym cardio
  • GPS cardio
  • strength training

This product has the following additional features:

  • optical heart rate monitor
  • barometric altimeter
  • accelerometer
  • compass
  • gyroscope
  • thermometer
  • muscle heatmap
  • heart rate sensor
  • phone notifications
  • caller ID
  • sleep tracking
  • fitness level analysis

Individuals can connect the COROS PACE 2 to their smartphones via Bluetooth.

Fitbit Sense

This water-resistant smartwatch has a display size of 1.59 by 1.59 in.

The company states that the Fitbit Sense has a battery life of up to 6 days, depending on which features a person uses.

The Fitbit Sense has the following health features:

  • more than 20 goal-based exercise modes
  • stress management score
  • oxygen saturation monitoring
  • high and low heart rate notifications
  • heart rate sensors
  • tracks number of steps and distance
  • calories burned
  • all-day activity and sleeping metric trackers

This product is compatible with Mac OS X 12.2 and up, iPhone 5S and later, iPad 5 generation and later, and Android 7.0 and later. Individuals can connect their Fitbit Sense to their smartphones or computers via Bluetooth.

Samsung Galaxy Watch3

This water-resistant smartwatch has a display screen size of 1.2 in.

The company states that the Galaxy Watch3 has a battery life of up to 53 hours, depending on which features a person uses.

The Galaxy Watch3 has the following features:

  • able to track 39 different exercises, including swimming
  • calorie tracking
  • sleep tracking
  • high or low heart rate notifications
  • syncs with phones and earbuds
  • fall alert system
  • option to read texts and make phone calls from the smartwatch
  • wireless charging

Individuals can sync their Galaxy Watch3 with Android 5.0 and higher or iPhone 5 and newer smartphones via Bluetooth.

Suunto 7 Black

This water-resistant running watch weighs 70 g.

Suunto states that the battery lasts up for up to 1 day if people use the product as a smartwatch all day and also do one workout. The company recommends charging it daily for the best performance.

The Suunto 7 Black has the following features:

  • free access to offline outdoor maps
  • more than 70 sport modes
  • GPS
  • heart rate wrist sensor
  • speed and distance tracking
  • training recovery tracking
  • sleep tracking
  • calorie tracking

This product is compatible with Google Fit, Google Assistant, Google Pay, and Google Play. Individuals can connect the Suunto 7 Black with most smartphones.

Apple Watch Series 6

This water-resistant smartwatch has a display screen size of 44 millimeters (1.73 in).

The company states that the Apple Watch Series 6 has a battery life of up to 18 hours, depending on how people use it.

This product has the following features:

  • blood oxygen level measurements
  • ECG tracking
  • sleep tracking
  • calorie tracking
  • elevation tracking
  • laps and distance tracking
  • running, swimming, biking, and yoga programs
  • music, podcast, and audiobook streaming

The Apple Watch Series 6 is compatible with the iPhone 6s or newer models with iOS 14 or later. Individuals can pair this product with their smartphone using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Physical activity can have positive effects on a person’s health. The CDC states that physical activity of any kind can benefit health by:

Studies have found several specific health benefits from running. Research notes that people who run lower their risk of death from any cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer by 23–30% compared with those who do not run.

A meta-analysis investigating how running affects the health of previously inactive adults found that running for at least 1 year led to the following benefits:

Running and other forms of physical activity can improve or maintain a person’s health. Physical activity can reduce the risk of certain health conditions, boost mental health, and strengthen bones and muscles.

A running watch is a piece of wearable technology that people can use to monitor their fitness progress. Several watches track various health metrics, which may help people maximize the benefits that they get from their workouts.

Several different brands of running watches are available to purchase online. Determining which features are most important to a person can help them select the product that is most suitable for their requirements.