The best activity trackers

We take a look at the 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!

Recommended reading - Issue Fifteen Autumn 2016

Experts

10 things you need to know about the mind

Psychologist Emily Toner takes us inside this mysterious mass of nerves and fibres in our heads.

Read more
Community

Forecasting the future of health

How Medibank's Chief Actuary uses data, trends and patterns to help the mission of better health.

Read more
Community

How happy is your melon?

Follow yoga teacher Masha Gorodilova in the journey into the art of yoga and mindfulness meditation.

Read more
Community

On track to better health

A new online tool pools info on nutrition and exercise for healthy living and cancer prevention

Read more
Travel

The 10 best places to eat and play in Tokyo

Blogger Hello Sandwich shows us her top picks of Tokyo.

Read more
Community

Happy Melon Studios: Mindfulness meets exercise

Discover the yoga, pilates and meditation centre Happy Melon Studios.

Read more
Community

Smiling Mind: Mindfulness made easy

Making mindfulness meditation free, Smiling Mind improves the mental wellbeing of young Australians

Read more
Community

Maggie Beer on autumn flavours

Looking to incorporate some seasonal produce this autumn? Maggie Beer has some ideas to share

Read more
Experts

Carbohydrates: Good or bad?

Confused whether carbs are good or bad? We break it down here.

Read more
Experts

Myopia: Myths and facts about short-sightedness

What’s the best way to manage myopia? Professor Kathryn Rose explains the facts of short-sightedness

Read more
Lifestyle

Conscious threads

Live simply, travel mindfully and keep active - Patagonia creates for exploring responsibly.

Read more
Lifestyle

7 ways to enjoy pomegranates

Interested to try pomegranate in some new ways?

Read more
Experts

Do you really need to quit sugar?

Thinking about quitting sugar? Here are some tips on the best ways to manage sugar intake.

Read more
Community

Tastes of the Amazon

Sambazon is an acai company who has a fair trade partnership to protect the Amazon rainforest.

Read more
In Brief

Introducing the Medibank Better Health Index

Australia’s biggest quarterly health index provides valuable insights into our nation’s well-being.

Read more
Experts

Flowing vitality: The Chinese medicine approach to exercise

How to balance gentle movement and intense exercise for energy, flow and nourishment.

Read more
Community

Master and commander

An insight into sailor Jack Macartney's experiences, including capsizing during a race.

Read more
Experts

How to relieve foot and heel pain

Sports podiatrist Emily Smith gives advice on how to treat foot and heel pain.

Read more
Recipes

Stracci pasta with braised lamb ragù recipe

Craving a hearting meal? This tender lamb ragu will hit the spot.

Read more
Recipes

Corsican pie with courgette flowers recipe

This corsican pie with courgette flowers is sure to impress your dinner guests!

Read more
Experts

How taste works

Interested to know how your taste buds work? We talk to the experts

Read more
Travel

The best canoeing trips around the world

Add to your bucket list of glorious destinations around the world with these five canoeing spots.

Read more
Recipes

Glazed pears with marscapone recipe

Love fruit for dessert? Try glazed pears with marscapone for something a little fancy

Read more
Experts

On-screen dementia support

Support for dementia is evolving - meet telehealth technology; the future of dementia care.

Read more
Recipes

Bircher muesli with poached dried apricots and pistachios recipe

Enjoy a healthy start to your day with bircher muesli and poached dried apricots

Read more
Lifestyle

Modern family

What is a "family"? We take a look at the history and future of Australian households.

Read more
Recipes

Beef pie with red wine, fennel and green olives recipe

You'll love this Australian favourite of beef pie with seasonal flavours.

Read more
Community

Mobile mindfulness

We look at how technology, meditation and mindfulness can work together.

Read more
Lifestyle

How to grow a better garden

Grow your skills as well as your garden, with helpful advice from a green-thumbed horticulturist.

Read more
In Brief

How to prevent hearing loss

Hearing Awareness Week: hearing loss affects 3.5 million Australians - know your facts.

Read more
Recipes

Fennel with goat’s curd recipe

If you're looking for a tasy side or light meal, Maggie Beer has the recipe for you

Read more
Recipes

Aubergine with black garlic recipe

For a succulent veggie dish, try aubergine with black garlic

Read more
Experts

The real deal on meat and cancer

We've got the truth about meat and cancer

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.