activity-tracker-girl.jpgFitness trackers have come a long way.

Remember those sweet Timax digital watches? I was so jazzed as a kid when I got one. It kept the time and I could use it as a timer to see how fast I ran. Not that I did that very often. But, it was nice to know that function existed.

You may have gotten on the pedometer bandwagon. Tracking how many steps you took each day and trying to best yourself as the weeks and months went on. But, then you probably forgot about it—it’s limited functionality didn’t give it lasting power.

Today, however, the new breed of fitness trackers go well beyond anything we could have imagined decades—or even years—ago. And people are going crazy for it. A recent report says that the wearables market will grow by 35 percent for the next 5 years, with 148 million units shipped by 2019.

That means now is probably as good a time to get one for yourself or a friend—the quality and innovation in this sector has never been better.

A couple things to consider before you jump right in, though.

Fitness Tracker Compatibility

The first is compatibility. Decide what you want your fitness tracker to connect with. Do you have an Android phone or an iPhone? Or maybe you just snagged a new Windows phone. Regardless, make sure the device you’re looking at can work with what you already have.

Of course, some of these fitness trackers can be accessed through the web, so check for that if you prefer that option.

And, if you think there’s a chance—even an outside chance—that you’ll switch mobile platforms in the next couple years, it might be to your benefit to find a fitness tracker that’s also compatible with your next smartphone.

Fitness Tracker Package

The second is what type of tracker do you want. Fitness trackers come in three forms: clip-on, bracelet and watch. As you move up the list it generally gets more expensive, but you’ll also have access to more features.

Fitness Tracker Features

And that’s the third, and most important, thing to consider. The easy question to answer is, “What do I need from the device?” The more difficult question to answer is, “What might I need/want from the device in the future.” You may not find the answer to that one, but it’s worth asking because there will be feature you don’t understand at the outset that could come in handy down the road.

Some features to consider:

  • Heart rate monitor – Many fitness trackers offer continuous heart rate monitoring, for a more accurate picture of your caloric burn and activity level.
  • Sleep Tracker – Using the tracker’s accelerometer, this feature watches for movement and some even show graphs of when you were in light sleep and deep sleep.
  • Sport specific – Do you cycle? Swim? Run? Some fitness trackers have features specific to your sport of choice.

Now that you’ve taken that all in, here’s a quick overview of some of the latest fitness trackers to hit the market.

Fitbit.jpgFitbit Charge Fitness Tracker

Compatibility: Android, Mac iOS and web-based application

This Fitbit tracker is a bracelet made that uses a textured band designed for continuous wear. It monitors steps taken, active minutes and calories burned. Everything is displayed on its beautiful OLED screen. It will also track your sleep quality and duration.

It will track real-time stats such as distance and time and you can sync all of your stats wirelessly via Bluetooth. It can also sync with your smartphone so you receive call notifications.

A full charge will give you 7 to 10 days of use.

Jawbone.jpgJawbone UP3

Compatibility: Android, Mac iOS and web-based application

The Jawbone UP3 takes a fashion-forward approach to fitness trackers. The stylish bracelet houses what Jawbone calls “state-of-the-art sensors” that measure everything from your resting heart rate to tracking your sleeping and eating patterns.
It has a Smart Coach feature that monitors each statistic to offer specific tips tailored to your lifestyle.

And it goes deep on your sleep, keeping track of REM, Light and Deep sleep patterns. Click here to read a fuller overview of the UP3.

Microsoft.jpgMicrosoft Band 2 Smartwatch

Compatibility: Windows, Android, Mac iOS and web-based application

This is a fitness tracker and smartwatch in one sleek package. The Microsoft Band 2 Smartwatch uses 11 sensors that track of your heart rate, calorie burn, sleep quality and more.

Of course, since it’s also a smartwatch, it pulls in your emails, texts and a lot more.

And the built-in GPS records your routes and distances while biking, running and hiking, with analysis through the Microsoft Health app.

PPLW.jpgApple Watch

Compatibility: Mac iOS and web-based application

 Of course, Apple is in the watch game.

They have a number of iterations of the Apple Watch, including this black stainless steel watch that’s part of its Sports collection. It has retina display with Force Touch and a sleek ceramic back.

The Apple Watch will track your calories, steps, distance and running. And, like the Microsoft iteration, it will pull in everything from your emails to Twitter notifications.


TomTom Spark Music + Cardio GPS Watch

Compatibility: Android, Mac iOS, web-based applications

TomTom has also entered the fitness tracker/watch space.

This watch can house up to 500 songs so you have all your favourite playlists for your next run or bicycle ride.

Much like any good fitness tracker it has a built-in heart monitor and it follows your activity throughout the entire day so you receive a fuller picture of how close you are to reaching your goals. Plus, it lets you choose what activity you’re doing (stairs, steps, etc.) so it can more accurately follow your movements.

And TomTom doesn’t abandon what it’s known for—built-in GPS provides real-time data from distance to speed.

You can find these fitness trackers and other great gifts to help your friends or family be as healthy as they can be on

Cover image courtesy of Bionicly.




Travis Persaud
I have contributed to a number of magazines across North America, including enRoute and Exclaim! I love variety and it shows in the wide range of topics that I have covered: automotive to music, technology to travel, beer to real estate. When not writing, I am often working on projects for Big Rig Brewery, an award-winning craft brewery based in Ottawa. I’m also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.