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Everyone has a fitness tracker in their hardware arsenal these days. Everyone. So how do you choose? You can pick something that works best for the activity you do the most. You can pick a multitasker that will give you tons of options. Or, you can vote based on what your bank account can handle.
These are the top fitness trackers for 2019 based on activity:
For Running: Apple Watch Nike+ Series 4
Sure, there are dedicated running devices out there, but I leave them all on the charger when I hit the road. Why? Because I’ve not found a running companion more versatile or more transformative than the Apple Watch Nike+ Series 4. The Nike Run Club app guided runs have a real effect on my training. From speed runs, to long runs, to on-the-hoof meditation, to laughing so hard I have to slow down, NRC gives me more than just the same old run metrics. And if I don’t feel like doing a guided run? Then I can stream music or podcasts from any source that I can access from my iPhone—but without my iPhone. Running on your own gets dull. The Apple Watch keeps me engaged.
Garmin makes amazing multisport watches and the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is one of their best. With a built-in triathlon mode, plus multiday battery life, you don’t have to worry about the Fenix 5X Plus leaving you stranded in the middle of the race. Garmin uses a robust, multinetwork tracking system that includes GLONASS and Galileo satellites in addition to the usual GPS, allowing it to provide routing suggestions and help keep you on track. The pulse oximeter and wrist-based heart monitoring keep an eye on stress levels and track your sleep and recovery so that you can make sure your training is staying effective. It’s like having a trainer strapped to your wrist 24/7.
For Crosstraining: Fitbit Versa
If you’re looking for something slimmer and more user-friendly to strap on when you head to the gym, the Fitbit Versa is a great fitness companion. It doesn’t have on-board GPS, but it does have fitness tracking, sleep cycle monitoring, female health tracking, on-board music storage, contactless payment, smart notifications, apps and more. And if you spring for the $40 annual plan, you can also get personalized workout videos on your wrist.
For Sleep and Wellness: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music wants you to be the best you. Not only does it keep an eye on your activity and steps, it has 15 preloaded exercise trackers available. it also measures how quickly you recover from workouts to determine if you’d benefit more from an extra day of training or a day off. Garmin’s stress and body battery metrics help you see how your activity and sleep are affecting your overall wellness. The Vivoactive 3 Music lets you load all your workout tunes and connect Bluetooth headphones for playback and has built-in GPS, offers cellular data and a Gorilla glass touchscreen, and lasts up to seven days on a single charge. Like an athletic Mary Poppins, it’s practically perfect.
For Not Looking Like a Fitness Tracker: Garmin Vivomove HR
Not everyone wants a tracking band or a flat black glass screen on their wrist. The Vivomove HR is made for those old schoolers. With an actual watch dial and integrated touchscreen, you get the best of both worlds. The small touchscreen can display notifications and tracking information gathered by the device’s heart rate tech and step counter. Plus, you get the benefit of stress analysis and sleep monitoring via Garmin Connect. The smart functions last seven days and the watch itself tells time for two weeks between charges. It comes in tons of colors and band styles and is the perfect way to stay healthy while making a style statement.
Best Under $100: Fitbit Inspire HR
Water-resistant, with a five-day battery life, the Inspire HR packs 15 different types of exercise and fitness tracking, sleep and heart rate monitoring, smartphone notifications and more into a tiny package. The watch faces are customizable and there are some seriously premium band options available (like Horween Leather). The screen is also just big enough to support vertical messages (instead of horizontal scrolling). As a “next generation” fitness-tracking band, with a price tag that puts others to shame, the Inspire HR goes a long way to making a case for what the future of the tracker should be.
Best Over $1,000: Garmin MARQ Athlete
The Athlete is the highest-end fitness watch Garmin has ever produced. Part of the MARQ line, it’s meant to be the pinnacle of everything Garmin has done in the GPS-guided, fitness-focused, activity-tracking market. It’s their most advanced fitness watch ever, with every sensor and smart trick they have packed into a stylish titanium casing. Beyond simply tracking, the MARQ also keeps an eye on training effectiveness with a Pulse Ox sensor. Using that, it can tell if your extra Saturday run is doing you any good, or if you’re just pointlessly beating yourself up. Dedicated markers on the default virtual watch face let you see at a glance what your VO2 Max score is (higher numbers mean your body is more effective at oxygenating your system) and how long you should wait to recover before your next workout. With around a week to ten days of battery life with mixed activity, you don’t need to pop it onto the charger every night, making it a very effective sleep tracker as well. While the screen is underwhelming for a device this pricey, it gets the job done. The MARQ Athlete will also keep you honest, offering up projected race finish times for various distances. It’s a great motivator.