Like every piece of gear you wear on your body day in and day out, fitness trackers are incredibly personal. They have to be comfortable and attractive, sure, but they must also fit your lifestyle, as well as when and how you like to work out. Do you bike, row, or do strength training? Do you run on trails for hours at a time, or do you just want a reminder to get up every hour?
No matter what your needs are, there’s never been a better time to find a powerful, sophisticated tool that can help you optimize your workouts or jump-start your routine. We’ve tested dozens over the years to bring you these picks. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out our Best Smartwatches and Best Running Gear guides.
Updated September 2022: We’ve added the new Apple Watches.
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Fitbit Charge 5
Even as Fitbit has faced stiff competition from other manufacturers—most notably, the Apple Watch—its trackers have always won me over. They hit a very specific sweet spot between attractiveness, affordability, accessibility, and ease of use. They’re perfect for everyone who isn’t an ultra-marathoner or a semipro powerlifter trying to hit a PR.
The Charge line has consistently reached the top of our rankings, and the Charge 5 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is no exception. Last year’s iteration introduced softer lines, a bright AMOLED screen, and almost every sensor you could want, from stress scans to electrocardiograms. Like the Apple Watch does with iPhones, the Charge 5 fast-pairs to Android phones and has both onboard and connected GPS so you can track outdoor workouts without a hitch. It also now has an FDA-cleared feature to detect atrial fibrillation, via Fitbit’s new Heart Rhythm Notifications feature. The major downside is that you do still have to pay $10 per month, or $80 per year, for a Fitbit Premium subscription to access most of Fitbit’s best features. Fitbit is also now owned by Google, which might deter you. All in all, the hardware is still less expensive and easier to use than others on this list.
Garmin Vívomove Sport
Picking a fitness tracker often means taking the proprietary software into consideration, as well as the hardware. Fitbit’s app is really easy to use, but I also like Garmin’s Connect, which I have found to be one of the most comprehensive digital health apps. If you discover that you like running, for example, it integrates easily with Strava. Unlike Fitbit, Garmin doesn’t paywall most of its best features behind a premium subscription.
That makes Garmin’s entry-level smartwatch my top pick for a first fitness tracker, especially since it doesn’t look particularly sporty. It comes in a variety of colors and resembles an analog watch. Simply swipe along the bottom half of the touchscreen to log activities and check notifications. Not only can you track workouts, but you can also monitor your sleep and heart rate and check a few other of Garmin’s proprietary algorithms, like your Body Battery, or how ready you are for the day. It’s worth noting that most people get a Garmin because it is GPS-enabled, and the Vivomove Sport only uses connected GPS from your phone. For more Garmin suggestions, check out our Best Garmin Watches guide.
Best If You Have an iPhone
Apple Series 8
People tend to hold on to their Apple Watches for years, and rightfully so—it is far and away the best fitness tracker if you have an iPhone. So if you want one, you’re best off with the latest Series 8. We’re still testing it, but this year’s Series 8 comes with new body temperature sensors that are aimed at tracking menstrual cycles. It also has new safety features, such as Crash Detection. In the event of a severe car accident, the Series 8 will use a powerful new accelerometer and gyroscope as well as the barometer, GPS, and microphone to detect a car crash and alert emergency services if the user has not responded within 10 seconds.
These come in conjunction with a whole host of health and fitness features in WatchOS 9, such as better workout views, more in-depth running metrics, medication logging, and better sleep tracking. In comparison, the new Apple Watch SE has the latest S8 chip and will have Crash Detection, but no wrist-based body temperature sensing, as well as no older features like the blood oxygen or ECG app.