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Fitness tracker: 25 top models in comparison

For athletes: fitness programs and GPS receivers

The boundary between trackers suitable for everyday use and special devices for athletes is often blurred. There are definitely one or the other function that athletes are happy to find in “normal” fitness bracelets. Others, however, need to be specifically looked for if you value them.

Automatic activity detection: One of the useful functions that you can already find in everyday trackers is automatic activity detection. You do not have to tell the gadget that you are going to perform said activity before jogging, cycling or cross training. Instead, after a certain amount of time, the tracker automatically recognizes which activity is involved.

However, the number of recognizable activities can be limited, so manual entry is still necessary in some cases. In this case, Fitbit offers the option of starting a workout with Charge 2 by pressing a button directly on the tracker. Garmin offers trackers that you can also use for swimming and golfing. You then have to start the corresponding training programs manually. You can find a special running training program for five or ten kilometers, half marathons and marathons at Polar.

GPS: If running is your main sport, a built-in GPS receiver in your future tracker can be useful. Then your route can later be tracked in detail. Some trackers also offer what is known as "assisted GPS". This means that the wristbands themselves do not have a GPS receiver, but access the smartphone's GPS via the Bluetooth connection to record the route. This works very well in practice, but it comes at the expense of the tracker and smartphone batteries.

Waterproof: Ideally, a fitness tracker is waterproof. Because regardless of whether you come into the rain while running, use the tracker to swim or simply do a sweaty exercise - the device should be able to withstand it and not fail as a result. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to find out the water resistance of trackers, especially if they are not marked as explicit swim trackers like the Fitbit Flex 2 or the iHealth Wave. In this case, the technical data should, at best, include the note “5 ATM” - which means that the device was tested for water resistance up to 5 bar. This in turn corresponds to the water pressure of a water column of 50 meters and, according to Wikipedia, is enough to carry a corresponding device when bathing, showering or washing your hands, but not for swimming.

Garmin defines “5 ATM” differently: According to their definition, “5 ATM” devices can withstand splashing water, rain or snow, showering, swimming, diving and snorkeling, but not scuba diving and high-speed water sports. Fitbit explicitly states that the Fitbit Charge 2, for example, is sweat-, rain- and splash-proof, but should not be worn while swimming. So if you value a waterproof fitness tracker, you should read the technical data of the candidates very carefully and question technical terms such as IPX classes or ATM information.

Special features: interchangeable bracelets, in-ears and more

However, anyone who thinks that a fitness tracker always consists of a black bracelet with a bulky tracker unit is wrong. The manufacturers are still sticking to the classic black bracelet design. However, there are now many models whose bracelets can be changed as desired or whose core you can even integrate into pendants or other jewelry.

You can find interchangeable wristbands on the Fitbit Alta HR and Charge 2, Misfit Ray and Shine 2, Polar M200, Samsung Charm and Withings Go models. You have even more options with the Fitbit Flex: In addition to interchangeable bracelets, you can put the Core in a bracelet or a pendant.

The Misfit Swarovski Activity Crystal is also a pendant that collects fitness data. At the same time, it's something for the eye. The Spire from the company of the same name also acts a bit apart from the “normal” fitness trackers. The stone-shaped clip also counts your steps, but primarily analyzes your breathing and thus draws your attention to stressful situations.

If you want to get away from the bracelet, clip or pendant entirely, Bragi The Dash is a possible solution. Here the manufacturer has packed fitness features including a heart rate monitor into wireless in-ear headphones. The earphones are waterproof, suitable for swimming and of course play back your music and phone calls.

The Withings Pulse Ox, on the other hand, offers special functions for recording blood oxygen levels and the Tomtom Touch, which measures body fat and muscle mass at the push of a button.

Conclusion: adapt to your own fitness requirements

A fitness tracker can help you lose weight and promote health. However, this assumes that you wear the device around the clock if possible. So choose a model that suits your needs. If you just want to move more in everyday life, you can use a tracker with a heart rate monitor and food tracking. Both of these also help with weight loss. If you want to analyze your training, your future tracker should be equipped with training programs and GPS. Otherwise: go for the optics too! Because if a tracker is too bulky for you, you won't wear it - and then the good intentions don't matter. (PC world)