It’s hard to know how to step up your workout when you feel like you’re already doing as much as you can. Luckily, a great smart watch can help you set new goals – and meet them. From step tracking while you run errands to keeping an eye on your heart rate, the right smart watch is the perfect accoutrement for maximizing your day.

The strengths of smart watch brands

As with any product niche, there are some brands who just… do it better. Different companies will choose to focus on different functions, which is a handy way to guide you in our smart watch selection.

A great smart watch helps you track your activity levels, but each does it in different ways. Step counters, for instance, are pretty much guaranteed—it’s hard to find a smart watch that doesn’t count your steps, no matter how affordable. But heart rate monitors and stair counters (which both require additional technology) aren’t found in every model. Certain watch brands may prioritize them; others may count how many calories you burn using other means.

Overall, when you buy a smart watch from Best Buy, you know that you’ll always end up with a stylish product that’ll help give you an in-depth look into your activity levels. How that’s done will vary. Apple is great at making smart watches that prioritize tech and happen to track activity almost as a byproduct; Samsung is great at designing rugged looks with highly durable glass fronts. For fitness and a sporty look, I like Fitbit models, but for multi-sport functionality, I’ve always found Garmin offers a little more.

Smart watches to break down your routine

The biggest benefit of using a smart watch to track your workout is being able to get a minute-by-minute breakdown. How many steps did you take? How high did your heart rate go, or how many calories did you burn? Which section of your workout worked best for you?

fitbit alta hrFor an all-around smart watch that you can use while working out and during your everyday life, a lot of tech lovers opt for something simple: the Apple Watch, currently on the sleek Series 4 incarnation, which has been redesigned with a larger display and louder speaker. It’s “swimproof” with automatic workout detection, but I’ve always found that the Apple Watch is truly about brand loyalty paired with a passion for tech.

But to break down your daily routine, I like the options offered by Fitbit. The brand’s models all allow for activity, step, and stair tracking, but they track beyond that, too—right into your sleeping movements. This can be done on many models, but Fitbit’s Alta HR (which improves upon the Alta line by adding heart rate tracking) jumps out at me thanks to its extra-slim design. It’s perfect for tucking away discreetly while you run errands, but small and smooth enough not to interrupt your sleep, either.

Or, at least, not until it’s set to vibrate you into wakefulness.

The perfect finely-tuned smart watch

If you’re focusing more on how your smart watch can help your workout than you are how it can improve your boredom in the evenings (what? You’ve never checked Twitter while at dinner with your grandma?), there are a lot of watch options designed with you in mind.

For instance: an all-around “athletic type” might enjoy a watch from Garmin. The Garmin brand is a big player in the smart watch world, but one that I find doesn’t get enough big media coverage. While other brands really focus in on a full-face design, Garmin products frequently mix an analogue watch face with smart design. And, unlike most brands, they span a very wide gap when it comes to price points. You can pick up a Garmin watch for just a little bit more than a Fitbit, or you could go for one of their premium models and spend as much on your watch as you did on your smartphone.

The Garmin brand makes primarily “sporty” watch designs, and their products tend to come loaded with features. Unlike other brands, they’re keen to distinguish each model from the next. Their base models emphasize heart rate and wellness monitoring, while their advanced smart watches pack in everything from advanced running analytics to precision satellite navigation. These watches are Luxe with a capital L, and they’re designed for the person who does it all. Hiking in the Swiss Alps this weekend? Your EXO antenna connects to GPS so you know exactly where you are. Switching between sports over the holidays? This has different modes for swimming, skiing, and golf. It’s so finely-tuned that it looks at hiking, trail running, and indoor running separately.

Garmin is a brand for those who strive for excellence in all things no matter the cost, and it shows. Their Garmin fenix Chronos range is made from jeweller’s-grade materials, with durable, titanium watch bands and scratch-resistant sapphire faces.

Crystal clear fitness tracking

samsung gear sportReadability comes from the quality of your screen, and Samsung makes great screens. The cameras in their smartphones are stellar, and their edge-to-edge Galaxy S9 screen still makes my mouth water. Smart watches are no different in this respect than phones, and Samsung’s? Samsung’s are great.

The Samsung brand makes durable watches with interchangeable watch bands, and they’re great about making models with heart rate monitors and altimeters available. Styles like the Samsung Gear Sport are really handy, offering water and shock resistance on top of active monitoring. The new Gear Sport has a 30.48mm full colour Super AMOLED touchscreen (essentially, a super fast, bright, high-resolution screen that isn’t usually available on smart watches) with a 360 x 360 pixel resolution, and it’s extra easy to operate using swiping or the model’s on-side bezels.

Like many of these watches, Samsung smart watches will push you your notifications, rotate through different workouts with you, and let you download extra apps to make your life a little easier. Smart watches can help you get the most out of your workout, whatever that workout may be – and lifestyle functions like music control, GPS, and sleep monitoring will help you round it out.

Shop smart watches and fitness trackers at Best Buy online today.

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