The best fitness trackers for exercise lovers

Do you need some extra motivation to get more active? We’ve tested the best fitness tracker watches for health enthusiasts, including top brands like Fitbit.

Two people running across a bridge in fitness gear

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Whether you struggle to run around the block or you're an exercise enthusiast with set daily goals, a fitness tracker you wear around your wrist could do wonders for your motivation.

We tested 15 fitness tracker watches, by wearing each for a full day and going for a run. We looked at each tracker's ease of set-up, range of functions, style, accuracy, reliability (for example, battery life) and value for money.

For more on exercise, setting healthy goals, eating a balanced, complementary diet and tailored advice for running, cycling, swimming and more, visit the BBC Good Food fitness and nutrition section.

Read on to discover our top fitness trackers and compare fitness trackers to see which one suits your needs. Don't forget to read our detailed buyer's advice on what to look for in a tracker. For more like this, visit our review section to find over 200 buyer's guides including the best juicers, smoothie makers and meal prep containers.

The best fitness trackers 2020

Nuband Flash Heart Rate Actvity and Sleep tracker on white background

Nuband Flash heart rate, activity & sleep tracker 

Best all-round fitness tracker

If you’re after a Fitbit-style watch but want something less costly, this is the one for you. It’s got all the basics you need including steps, calories burned and a sleep tracker. We liked the fact it could record all your stats from a choice of 20 different sports ranging from badminton to volleyball.

We found it fairly accurate and thoughtfully designed. For instance, you need to select heart rate and then tap the screen to get your pulse, which is much more battery-efficient than having it working constantly. A quick flick of the wrist wakes it up when you're walking about and means you don’t have to stop on a run.

The user-friendly app lets you set your own targets for steps and gives hour-by-hour breakdowns of heart rate too.


Available from Amazon (£24.99)

Tom Tom Touch Cardio and Body tracker on white background

TomTom Touch cardio + body composition tracker

Best fitness tracker for analysing data

This unisex tracker offers you everything you’d expect from these devices, plus an intriguing extra insight too. Tap in your weight and wait 15 minutes. You will then be shown what percentage of your body is fat and muscle.

The watch sends a harmless current through your body to calculate and reveal this intimate level of data. You’ll also find all the the usual stats you'd expect: steps, distance covered, active time, calories burnt, heart rate during your day and exercise (you can pick a specific sports mode), so this ticks most boxes.

The app is easy to download, while the data is transferred wirelessly to your phone. A genuinely handy piece of kit, however hard you push yourself.


Available from Amazon (£50.82)

Polar A370 watch on white background

Polar A370 fitness tracker

Best fitness tracker for more serious exercise

Although this tracker is chunkier than some, its larger watch face makes checking the data easier. After an hour's charging (that lasted at least two days during testing) the synching was fairly painless too.

You wake this waterproof fitness tracker up by a flick of the wrist or the unobtrusive side button. From there you can quickly scroll through the menu. As well as training modes for your chosen exercise, we liked the breakdown of how active your day was and how that translated into achieved goals.

We found the colourful graphs on the app that analysed what your heart rate has been up to and the quality of your sleep endlessly fascinating. Not cheap, but lots of juicy stats to pore over.

 

Buyer’s advice

What is a fitness tracker?

Usually worn as a wristwatch, fitness trackers do things like count your daily steps, tot up active minutes and buzz to remind you to move if you’ve been sedentary for too long. Many have heart rate monitors so you can see how hard you’re exercising. Some track your sleep so you know if you’ve slept lightly or soundly, and many notify you of texts and calls too. 


What do you use fitness trackers for?

It depends on how fit you are, and how fit you want to be. If you spend most of your day sitting down, you might want to use it to increase your daily steps, boost your active time and burn up extra calories. If you’re already very active, you can see how far and fast you’re running, walking or cycling (some have a wide choice of sports to pick from) and compare it to last week/month.

Fitness tracker on wrist - someone tying shoelaces


How to choose a fitness tracker

Whether you want a basic model, a fitness tracker with GPS or a stylish wristwatch, think about the following when making your purchase.

Functions: Consider whether you need the extra functions that will push up the price. For instance, a heart monitor might not appeal if you’re just trying to boost your daily steps. Similarly, decide if you really want GPS (satellite) to track your walks/runs, as that can be a costly add-on.

Style: If you plan to wear it all the time, make sure you like the look of the tracker.  You can personalise some by changing the watch face.

Waterproof: If you’re a keen swimmer – or you’re likely to forget to slip it off while washing up – find one that you can wear in the pool.

Apps: You don’t have to connect your device to an app, but if you do, you’ll get access to more data. Some apps are those specially designed for that particular watch but there are free generic ones for cheaper models too.

Motivation: Do you want a watch that will congratulate you when you reach a daily target? It might sound cheesy, but it can actually make you get up and reach that goal.

Price: The ones we tested were between £10 and heading towards the £200 mark, so there’s a wide selection whatever your budget. 

Fitness tracker on a wrist

How do you set up a fitness tracker?

Many of the more expensive trackers have a dedicated app to download on to your smartphone, which will automatically log data. Others use a generic one that is also free to download. Once you’ve got the tracker out of its box, you’ll usually need to charge it for 30-60 minutes or so and then download the app. You connect the app to the tracker using Bluetooth (the app will help you do this and it’s easier than it sounds), add personal details when prompted (age, height etc.) and you’re good to go.  

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This review was last updated in July 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.
 

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