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The best activity trackers

Reviews — Posted 26/05/14

Which activity tracker is right for you? We take a look at the rise and rise of wearable fitness technology.

Take a glance at the wrists of people around you – chances are you’ll spot a few flashy gadgets and gizmos, quietly monitoring and evaluating their wearer’s movement. Welcome to the emerging landscape of wearable technology, a revolution in the way we exercise, communicate and work towards being the best versions of ourselves.

As websites, apps and social networks become more and more entwined with our fitness routines, wearable activity trackers are increasingly popular for people who want to motivate themselves by monitoring their progress towards goals.

Whether you’re trying to improve your fitness, lose weight, or just try to get more physical activity in your daily routine, these smart, wearable gadgets can provide useful insights. Getting a clear picture of how much you’re moving, how well you’re sleeping, and what you’re eating can help you to identify patterns, set goals and take positive steps forward.

What does an activity tracker do?

Basically, an activity tracker is a wearable device that monitors your movement and provides insights into the habits that make up your physical lifestyle. Like highly evolved pedometers for a new generation, the clever gadgets can track not just your steps (10,000 steps a day is the recommended goal), but a whole range of activities that make up your day, as well as your food consumption, sleep quality and duration, and calories burned.

By linking up to a companion web or smartphone app, you can then access a host of information about your daily lifestyle that can help you to evaluate your progress towards your goals.

Some activity trackers can read your heart rate, while many others can connect to heart rate monitors, blood pressure monitors, Wi-Fi enabled scales, and other devices to provide a detailed reading of what’s going on with your body as a whole.

There is an ever-growing range of activity trackers on the market, and some might suit you more than others. Here, we take a look at what some of these products can offer you…

Fitbit Flex

•Wristband
•LED indicator lights
• Android and iOS compatible
•Sleep tracker
•3-5 day battery life
•Water-resistant

This is a slim, sporty and affordable device that offers a simple display of five white lights indicating your progress towards your daily goal. Track your activity and sleep and sync to your stats to the companion appp wirelessly to get a full picture of how you're doing. With a good range of functionality and easy-to-use features, this is a great activity tracker for those who aren’t necessarily athletes.

fitbit.com

Jawbone UP

• Wrist band
• Android, iOS compatible
• Sleep tracker
• 10 day battery life
• Water-resistant

The Jawbone wristband stands out with its stylish and comfortable design, with no screen display. It has a wide-ranging ability to track metrics and provides a thorough analysis of your personal health and fitness. Its companion apps for iPhone and Android are well-designed, though it doesn’t sync to computers.

jawbone.com

Misfit Shine

• Wrist band or clip on
• LED indicator lights
• Android and iOS compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Waterproof
• 4 month battery life

The most stylish and elegant of activity trackers, the Misfit Shine includes both a clip and wristband mounts, so it can function either way. Data analysis is limited compared to some other devices, but one major advantage is that it’s fully waterproof, so it’s an excellent choice if you like to swim.

misfitwearables.com

Withings Pulse

• Clip on
• OLED display
• Android and iOS compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Heart rate monitor
• Not waterproof or water resistant
• 1-2 week battery life

This small, slim rectangle can be clipped on to your clothes or carried in your pocket to track your steps, sleep and much more. This device is rich in features and includes the added bonus of a heart rate monitor. One downside is that it’s not water-resistant.

withings.com

Garmin Vivofit

• Wristband
• LCD display
• iOS and Android compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Waterproof to 50 m
• 1 year battery life

The Garmin Vivofit is a comfortable, waterproof device with a decent range of features and an always-on display. It’s best for tracking walking and running, and as it learns your habits and progress it assigns you a personalised fitness goal that adjusts itself daily.

garmin.com

Basis B1

• Wristwatch
• LCD display 
• iOS and Android compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Heart rate monitor
• Water-resistant
• 5-7 days battery life

Worn as a wristwatch, the Basis B1 is a sophisticated activity tracker with comprehensive tracking and a wide range of features. It’s on the higher end of the price range, but offers a wealth of information that puts it above the functionality of other devices.

mybasis.com

Nike+ FuelBand

• Wrist band
• Dot-matrix LCD display
• iOS compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Water-resistant
• 5-7 day battery life

Nike’s activity tracker has a sporty, comfortable design with a dot matrix display and fun accent colour options. All of your movements are measured and translated into “NikeFuel”, though you can add standard metrics if you prefer. There are also great options to connect with friends, join groups, and take on social challenges.

nike.com.au


LifeTrak Zone C410 

This waterproof wristwatch is larger than other devices, but if you like a clear on-screen display this can be a benefit. With a long-lasting coin battery, the LifeTrak offers a range of features including a heart rate monitor and sleep tracker. 

• Wristwatch
• LCD display
• iOS compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Heart rate monitor
• Waterproof to 30 m
• 1 year battery life

lifetrakusa.com

Polar Loop

• Wristband
• LED display
• iOS compatible
• Sleep tracker
• Waterproof
• 5 day battery life

The Polar Loop has a plastic band that you custom fit to your wrist using a provided tool. It provides all the standard features –sleep time, steps taken, activity time and levels, and calories burned – and has the advantage of being waterproof, making it ideal for swimmers.

polar.com

We want to reward you for being active – check out the Medibank Active Rewards program and get moving!

Extra   Find out more about the health benefits of walking morewhy 10,000 steps a day is a good goal for better health – and how to do it.
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