Just when you think the fitness tracker trend is slowing down, a new one hits the market. It’s likely that these personal activity tracking devices continue to do well because they make you constantly aware of how much you move during the day—or how much you don’t, which in many ways is the more telling health statistic. They coach, motivate and nag you a bit to ensure you’re taking steps, burning calories and even getting enough sleep. So which one is right for you? Read on!
1Nike Fuel Band
The Nike Fuel ($150) band rolls fashion, activity tracking and games into one stylish, easy-to-use wristband. With the touch of a button on the center of the band, you scroll through steps, calories and time. A fourth stat—NikeFuel—adds the gaming element. These mysteriously tallied points allow you to compare yourself to other Fuel users and unlock social media-type badges. Another awesome feature: You can sync your data wirelessly to an iPhone app by holding down the button. The band need never leave your wrist except for its weekly charge. Nike Fuel comes in three techy colors: Black, translucent black ice or white ice.
2Up by Jawbone
This newly revamped tracking bracelet gets a lot of things right. The device itself is thin and flexible and comes in lots of zippy colors. The stellar iPhone app logs every piece of data you can think of—mileage, calories burned and eaten, sleeping patterns and even the ebb and flow of your moods if you choose to log them. Its stand out feature is the silent vibrating alarm that calculates your ideal wake up time based on your REM sleep cycles. We also love the “Insights” function, which offers suggestions on how to improve your health based on what the device learns about you. The only tweak we wish for is a better sync-up system. Up by Jawbone ($129.99) lasts 10 days without a charge but requires an extra wire and only syncs to select mobile devices.
As the original tracking device seen on “The Biggest Loser,” the Bodybugg ($119) has nailed motion capture technology by factoring in accelerometry (body movement), skin temperature and other data into its calorie burn calculations. Perhaps that’s why it seems to do the best job of crediting all your movement accurately—not just steps. Though it’s homely in comparison to other devices, some users may prefer the fact that it straps to the upper arm rather than rattling around on the wrist. The software, especially the food log, is user-friendly and adaptable. For instance, you can now integrate BodyBugg info into your SparkPeople account. Plus, it syncs wirelessly with mobile devices for on-the-fly monitoring. After three months of use, you need to purchase a $6.95-a-month subscription plan in order to keep using it, so factor that into the price.
4Fitbit: Zip, One and Flex
Fitbit has three tracking devices to choose from. The Zip ($59.95) and One ($99.95) are tiny and cute, like miniature anime cartoon characters. Both clip discretely onto your waistband and both run on a long-life battery. The Flex ($119.95) is a sleek black wristband and charges up via cable. All three do a superior job of logging steps, distance and calories burned. Zip also tracks stats, like stairs climbed and sleep cycles, while Flex goes even further by tracking active minutes and quality of sleep. All Fitbit devices use a lewdly named “dongle” for syncing—you stick it into a USB port for wireless data transfer. The analysis software is eye-catching and intuitive.
Want to dip your toe into activity tracking? At $29.95, this slim wrist band may be just the ticket. Equipped with three modes, MOVband allows you to freely switch between time, total mileage and “movements”—a catchall utility for any activity other than steps. Mile benchmarks are awarded with small colorful bands that slide onto the bracelet—low tech, but surprisingly motivating. If you join the MOVchallenge program, you can pace yourself against other users or set up a personal fundraising page. The tracking software can be a little wonky, but you may get more precise readings by putting the band in your pocket during activities such as elliptical workouts, dance or jumping rope.