A fitness tracker can be a great way to help you get — or stay — in shape without needing an all-out smartwatch. A fitness tracker holds you accountable for your physical activity with health and fitness smart features, such as sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, blood oxygen monitoring, connected GPS and other insights into your daily activities. Your fitness tracking data is then shared with an app to give you a better view of your overall fitness.
There are dozens of dedicated fitness tracker options to choose from — from the classic fitness-tracker watch design (including the much-loved Fitbit) to shoe insoles with activity tracking features. We also don’t sleep on smartwatches that track your physical activity, like the Apple Watch.
We’ve rounded up six of our favorite trackers based on price, form and function. All need a mobile app to track your progress and some let you see phone notifications on your wrist. Fitness tracking is definitely great for keeping you motivated, but keep in mind that not even the most advanced activity tracker will do the work for you.
No matter your health and fitness goals, any one of the activity trackers here will help you achieve peak performance, so read on. We’ll be testing more and updating this best fitness trackers list periodically. If you’re looking for more smart features and advanced fitness insights, make sure to check out our list of best smartwatches for 2022 with recommendations for the top Garmin, Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Polar wearables.
Read more: Best budget smartwatches under $100
The Charge 5 improves on earlier Charge models by adding a color screen and an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) app on top of the already-strong fitness and sleep tracking Fitbit is known for. There’s a built-in GPS so you can track outdoor workouts without your phone, plus a blood oxygen sensor. With the recent addition of a new Daily Readiness Score, the Charge 5 can also tell you if your body is up to taking on a workout, or if you should take a rest day. But many of Fitbit’s most useful features, like this score, are only available as part of Fitbit’s $10-a-month Premium service. Without a Premium subscription you can still use the Charge 5 for fitness and health tracking, it just won’t give you the most in-depth metrics and trends over time. The battery should last you at least four full days and it’s compatible with iPhone and Android.
If you’re looking for a fitness band that’s discreet (and more affordable), you may consider the Fitbit Luxe. You won’t get the built-in GPS or mobile payment options, but it has health and fitness tracking essentials, including heart-rate monitoring, automatic workout detection and a detailed sleep analysis.
This fitness band is also the closest thing to jewelry that I’ve worn so far, especially if you pair it with the Gorjana link bracelet. You can also swap out the bands for more traditional silicone ones if you’re worried about sweat or using it to track swims. The biggest downside is that for some people, the screen and text may be too small to read without a lot of effort (or glasses).
For less than $50, the Mi Band 6 is the best value fitness tracker you can buy. Expect the same features you’d get in a more expensive fitness tracker, like an AMOLED touchscreen that’s easy to see in sunlight, 24/7 heart rate and sleep tracking. Battery life is also second to none, as you’ll get around two weeks of use before you need to charge. The main downside is that heart-rate tracking for intense workouts does tend to be spotty and some features like the voice assistant and contactless payments are not available in the US.
These $300 smart insoles can turn any old running shoe into a high-tech tracker, giving you more fitness tracking information about your run than any wrist-based tracker we’ve ever tested. Each insole has 16 sensors that detect the pressure you’re putting on your foot with every step you take. Together with the app and trackers, they can measure everything from step length to foot strike balance to give you real-time feedback on how to reduce injury or improve your time.
The Series 7 may be the latest Apple Watch out there, but the cheaper Apple Watch SE has everything you need in a fitness tracker with added smartwatch features. Not only does this Apple Watch keep tabs on your health and activity like the rest of the trackers on this list, this fitness watch also gives you access to dozens of fitness apps like Strava, Nike Training Club and Apple’s own Fitness Plus, to guide you through any type of workout.
If you’re not quite ready to give up the look of a traditional wristwatch, but want something with smart features, consider the Garmin Lily. This is a tracker designed for smaller wrists and has a cool pattern etched in the background of the watch that gives it a unique look when the monochrome screen is on or off. Despite its tiny footprint, it doesn’t skimp on all the important features you’d expect, including blood oxygen, sleep tracking and 24/7 heart-rate monitoring. Unlike some of the other trackers on this list, the Lily doesn’t have any onboard storage for music, or built-in GPS.
The third-generation Oura Ring is a set-and-forget wearable. Put it on like a regular ring and in the background it will track your sleep, skin temperature and heart rate. Soon, it will also be able to read blood oxygen levels and measure your heart rate during a workout. Unlike earlier models of the Oura Ring, this version requires a $6-a-month subscription — without it you’ll just get access to a daily readiness score. We haven’t fully reviewed the Oura Ring yet as some of its key features are still to launch, but it’s worth including as it’s a completely different design to all the other options on this list.