Lizzy Deningfitness

We review the best activity trackers

Lizzy Deningfitness
We review the best activity trackers
activity-trackers-review-test-best-fitness

We've put some of the newest fitness watches and activity trackers through their paces - but which one is the best? And did they improve our fitness

IFit Axis, RRP £129.99
★★★

ifit-axis-tracker


Appearance:
Quite bulky looking as it is black on the outside and a purple colour inside (which you don’t see when wearing it).
Set-up: 
It was quite easy to download the app to my phone and sync (although I had to sync it again after a few days)
Features:
Records steps, miles, heart rate. Also does many other things like calorie count, workouts and sleep monitor, but couldn’t get them to work along with my phone. You have to know about apps and technology for this. 
Usability:
I only used it for the basic stuff and found it easy to use daily. The battery doesn’t last too long, (says five days, but felt it’s less than this) but doesn’t take long to charge at all.
Has it made you fitter? 
It has made me set goals. I was close to 10,000 steps a day without the tracker, but it's nice to have it confirmed that you have reached it and it does make you want to achieve more.
Also the alerts to ‘Get up and move’ or ‘Go for a walk’ really help to push you.

Fitbit Alta HR (orange), £129.99
★★★★

fitbit-alta-hr-orange

Appearance:
I love the style of the Alta HR, which is basically a slim watch in a vibrant colour. The strap does get grubby quickly, but it can easily be rinsed by removing the tracker.
Set-up:
The set-up process was straight-forward, and just involved downloading the app (free) to my phone. It took probably ten minutes or less to do, and an hour or so to charge via my laptop.
Features:
It tracks your step count, calorie burn, distance walked, heart rate, number of active minutes and your sleep patterns. You can also add in details about the amount of water you're drinking, and what you've eaten that day. It buzzes on your wrist if you haven't walked 250 in an hour (which can get a bit annoying if you're at the cinema or doing any activity which involves sitting still!) and gets very excited when you reach your 10,000 daily steps. It's also handy as a watch.
Usability:
I've previously had a Fitbit Charge HR which I slightly preferred to this model. It sat more comfortably on my wrist, and I liked that it had a button on the side. The Alta HR has a touch screen, which can also be activated by moving your wrist, and tends to light up in the night and wake me up. That said, it's a great little mid-price tracker, with a decent battery life and some fun touches (I love the flashing stars that reward me for good behaviour!)
Has it made you fitter?
Yes I think so - it's certainly made me conscious of how little I move on a working day, and motivates me to go for a walk on my lunch break.

Polar A360 Fitness Tracker, RRP £169.50
★★★★

polar-fitness-tracker-white


Appearance:
I love this sporty-looking watch. I choose the white strap, which has stayed surprisingly white even after some rather muddy gardening – it easily wipes clean. It also comes in blue and black. The colour display is bright and clear and easy to see. The screen isn’t on constantly and you do have to wave your arm violently or press the side button to see the time, which is a little annoying. 
Set-up:
Really quick and simple to set up and works alongside the Polar Flow app. 
Features:
Includes a step count, accurate wrist heart monitor and a training function. The ‘My day’ view shows you how many steps you’ve done, how many miles you’ve covered, calories burned and a percentage of how far you are towards reaching your daily step goal. It features a vibrating alert that tells you in you haven’t moved for a while and also if it needs charging.
Usability:
The watch itself is really simple to use and easy to navigate between the time, step count, heart rate and training functions. The battery lasts ages – up to two weeks depending how often you use the training functions. When combined with the Polar Flow app (which you download for free to your smartphone), it gives you a more detailed insight into your daily and weekly activity. You can also monitor your sleep time and quality. It’s water resistant too. 
I do love this watch, but it isn’t without some downsides. It doesn’t automatically stay synced to my phone and when manually synced it takes a while. But my biggest bugbear is the press strap fastening (rather than a traditional watch buckle fastening), because it easily pops open. Mine fell off quite a few times, once even chipping the screen slightly when hitting the pavement. I have the smallest wrist band size (it comes in small, medium and large) and perhaps needed a slightly bigger band. It’s hard to tell whether this would solve the problem though. 
Has it made you fitter?
I wouldn’t say it alone has made me fitter, but I have enjoyed monitoring my fitness levels and seeing what normal activity I do day-to-day. 


Philips health watch, RRP £249.99
★★★★

phillips-health-tracker


Appearance:  
The device is black rather large and chunky on a female wrist. I like the fact you have the option of two strap sizes. It looks more sporty rather than elegant for everyday wear (the newer Fitbits look very elegant so look good if worn at work or to go out)
Set-up:
Set up and synch with the app on smartphone was very straightforward.
Features:
Records steps (walk, run, cycle), heart rate, sleep. You can manually input your calories
Records active daily exercise versus overall daily activity. It has an alarm stopwatch, and can buzz to remind you to move, say every 30mins. I like the fact it messages your smartphone personally to motivate you.
Usability:
As the device has a touch screen it can give a lot of permutations of info straight from the watch face – which are easily accessed (I'm used to a basic Fitbit model which has minimal info displays just from pressing one button). The app goes even further in its data analysis.
I also like the charging cradle (which is much easier to use than my Fitbit which is a pain to connect up to the power lead ) 
Has it made you fitter?
I tend to be looking for overall steps achieved in a whole day to make me fitter - rather than just analysing workouts, so I would prefer something that looks more unobtrusive for 24/7 wear (which is what it's intended for)
I do like the multiple features of this device but personally having small wrists  -  perhaps it's more suited to a male wearer.

Fitbit Charge 2 , £139.95 (John Lewis)
★★★★★

fitbit-charge-2-tracker


Appearance:
I choose the rose gold and lilac wrist strap because I though it looked very feminine. A lot of fitness trackers can be quite bulky and masculine looking but the Charge 2 features a generous screen size without being too dominant on your wrist.
Set-up:
The set-up process couldn’t have been easier. It felt strange not having a set of paper instructions but all I had to do was download the app on my phone and it guided me straight through the process. It’s important that you fully charge the Fitbit first.
Features:
This tracker has some great features. The most basic is the step count that allows you to see how active, or inactive you’ve been each day. I was really determined to reach my goal step count, so would purposely park further away, and take the dog on longer walks to ensure I hit my daily target. Without my Fitbit I probably wouldn’t have given this much thought.
It also features a heart-rate tracker which constantly monitors your pulse. This allows the watch to work out how any minutes of fat burning cardio you’ve done each day. If your goal is to lose weight you can set a weight loss target and log all the food you’ve consumed in a day. The tracker works out what how many calories you’ve burned in a day so you can clearly see whether you need to cut down on calories or increase your exercise levels.
There’s also a sleep tracker which I found quite useful, although it was a little depressing to see that I’d only had three hours' sleep one night! You can set a bedtime and the tracker will vibrate to tell you it’s time to go to sleep. You can also set a silent vibrating alarm to wake you up gently.
If you haven’t been active for over an hour it’ll vibrate to remind you to move. I sit at a desk for most of the day so I found this extremely useful.
Another feature I liked was that you could link your phone via bluebooth and it to watch to vibrate when you get a phonecall and to show text messages on the screen. My mobile is often at the bottom of my bag and I don’t always hear it so this was a great way to make sure I didn’t miss any important calls.
Other features include, guided breathing sessions- great for calming you down after a stressful day, a handy stopwatch, and real-time stats to help you track your exercise as you do it.
Usability:
The watch itself is very easy to use. The screen turns on whenever you turn your wrist towards you. A tap of the screen allows you to instantly view your step count, heart rate, distance covered and allows access to the exercise tracker, stopwatch and guided breathing
Has it made you fitter?
It’s made me much more aware of the need to walk a good distance every day. I have been noticeably more active, choosing to walk places rather than drive so that I can reach my daily target. Once I appear to be reaching my daily step target I plan to gradually increase it so that fitness continues to improve.
 

The best activity tracker is...

The Fitbit Charge 2!

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