The world of quantified health hasn’t exactly been focused on women. Activity trackers started off with chunky and unattractive devices aimed at fitness freaks and technology buffs. Thankfully, those days are behind us and the tech community has grasped the importance of designing wearable technology that is both functional and attractive.
Essential reading: Wearables that keep you safe
This article is a summary of our favourite activity trackers and smartwatches designed with female fitness enthusiasts in mind. Our criteria is based on a combination of visual appeal, smaller sizes and functionality. These are wearables that are designed to keep track of your activity and sleep so should not be confused with safety wearables, i.e. devices which make it easy to call for help at the touch of a button.
Vivoactive 3 is the successor to the Vivoactive HR, a Swiss knife of activity trackers. Garmin has realised that it needs to introduce a less bulky form factor if it is to appeal to a larger demographic. And on that count, the Vivoactive 3 does not dissapoint. It now has a classy new unisex design.
Apart from the aesthetics and tracking everything under the sun, the main news here is the inclusion of Garmin Pay, a first for the company. Which means Garmin customers can finally pay for purchases with their timepiece. The new functionality is enabled by FitPay and supports Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards from major issuing banks.
There are 15 built-in sports profiles, including new ones for snowboarding, cardio, yoga, eliptical and stair stepper. Vivoactive 3 will also let you mix it up by creating customized workouts. Other new features include VO2Max and stress/workout tracking.
Founded in 2014, Bellabeat is a wellness-oriented outfit dedicated to creating attractive connected wearables for women. The company has distributed over 400,000 of its Leaf device, launched some two years ago.
This smart piece of jewellery is designed to track your health. Wear it as a necklace or bracelet with Leaf accessories or items you already own – or clip it to any clothing item as a stylish accent. You choose what fits your style best in any given occasion.
The tracker learns about you and provides insights and improvements to your daily routine to help you feel your best. The wearable tracks your breathing, sleep, activity and monthly cycles through the smartphone app. If you are feeling stressed, you can follow one of its breathing routines to try and calm yourself down. Its advanced technology is hidden inside the wood housing, giving it a soft natural appeal.
Leaf does not need to be charged. It is powered by a replaceable battery that lasts up to 6 months. It also has up to 14 days worth of memory, so you only need to sync it every couple of weeks.
Bellabeat has recently come out with its second generation tracker. In addition to all the features offered by its predecessor, Urban helps you deal with stress. The new feature analyzes different lifestyle habits to help you not only manage this silent killer, but also prevent it by determining the triggers that cause it.
The Urban features a slightly different design and is smaller and lighter than Leaf. Made with water-resistant certified wood composite and stainless steel, it maintains the natural look and feel that made Leaf so appealing.
Launched late last year, the wearable takes much of what was great about the Activite range and upgrades it with new features including a heart rate monitor and a digital display for smartphone notifications.
There are no buttons to push. Steel HR automatically tracks everything and syncs the info to your app to give you metrics, personal coaching and more. The main novelty for an analogue type device is the addition of heart rate monitoring.
Real-time heart rate info is displayed on the watch during your exercise, and more detailed info including time spent in heart rate zones can be seen in the app. The watch also tracks resting heart rate, one of the most important metrics to assess overall health over time.
This is a watch that is designed to look and feel normal, and it works in pretty much every situation. You can wear it not only during business hours, but also for a formal event, as well as light hiking or other sporting events.
Vivosport is another feature packed device that comes from Garmin. But this one comes in its most slimmest form-factor yet.
This device can be seen as an upgraded version of the company’s popular Vivosmart 3 and Vivosmart HR+ trackers. In a sense, Garmin has taken the best from these two and come up with an entirely new fitness band. This is also Garmin’s first wristband with a color screen.
Measuring 21mm in width, 10.9mm in thickness and weighing only 27 grams, you’ll hardly notice you are wearing it. It feels great on your wrist, fitting very snuggly.
Despite the slim form-factor, Vivosport has some pretty impressive specs under the hood. You’ll get everything you need for 24/7 activity tracking, including detailed info on steps, calories, distance, heart rate, activity, floors and sleep. The built in GPS makes for more precise distance, time and pace tracking, along with route mapping for your runs. It will track your swims in the pool, too.
This stylish, ceramic-based device allows you to track and record steps, distance traveled and calories burned. It will also monitor sleep quality and receive incoming call vibration alerts.
You can choose from two wristband styles, Moonbeam and Equator. Moonbeam is a white ceramic shell encased in a rose gold-plated metal frame and is surrounded by a premium white leather wristband. Equator is designed to offer sleek sophistication. The ceramic shell is surrounded by a simple, minimalistic band in complementary matted black or rose gold tones. You also get interchangeable accessories to suit your mood.
Amazfit is one of the slimmest, most lightweight activity trackers on the market today. Just by looking at it, you would never even guess that its anything more than a stylish accessory.
Charm is a simple to use lifestyle band designed to look like a piece of jewellery. It features a small LED to make you aware of incoming or missed calls and messages, as well as push alerts from applications that you can select via the smartphone app. Color-coded notifications display information about charging, connectivity status and battery level.
Charm also doubles up as a basic activity tracker. Simply sync it with a smartphone via Bluetooth and pair it with the accompanying app to see how many steps you’ve taken, how much distance you’ve covered over the course of a day and how many calories you’ve burned. The device sports on-board memory, so even if you don’t have your smartphone with you, the wearable will continue to gather fitness data.
To suit both men and women the tracker comes in two versions, bar and square-shaped. There are also three colors to choose from, Rose Quartz, Gold and Black.
The list would not be complete if we did not mention the Charge 2. Taking cost into consideration, this is also our choice for the best fitness tracker right now for the average person.
The wearable features a sleek look with a larger screen than previously. It also comes in a number of colors so is suitable for both men and women. The interchangeable bands mean you can customize it to your liking.
There is a 3-axis accelerometer inside, along with an altimeter and heart rate monitor. Its heart rate tracking is continuous and accurate, while its sleep tracking feature is much more useful following Fitbit’s recent update.
Essential reading: Fitbit’s new sleep tracking feature explained
The Charge 2 also links to the GPS on your smartphone to provide more precise data on pace and distance when you’re running, while recording a map of your route in the app. And lets not forget Multi-Sport tracking and smartphone notifications.
Plus there are a few new features that tap into your hear-rate readings. The most useful one is called Cardio Fitness Level. It gives you a snapshot of your fitness level using a personalised Cardio Fitness Score, which is based on your VO2 Max. You can also see how you compare to your gender and age group.
The other new addition are Guided Breathing Sessions. This is a relaxing mindfulness experience that calms your body and mind through personalized deep-breathing sessions called “Relax”.
If you are interested in Fitbit’s less sophisticated but water-resistant wearable – the Flex 2, you have the option of choosing a super chic accessory with an exclusive collection from Tory Burch (view on Amazon).
Alta HR might actually be the best-looking fitness tracker Fitbit has released so far. The wearable is particularly popular with women and the high-fashion crowd. Just strap it on, without worrying about pressing buttons or logging any activity. Automatic activity tracking is a huge plus.
The new device looks a lot like the much-loved Alta fitness tracker. It has swappable bands and can track steps, distance, calories and sleep. And just like the original, it displays notifications for incoming calls, text messages and calendar alerts. The Alta was, however, missing out on a couple of features, one of which is becoming fairly standard these days – heart rate tracking.
With this new tracker, Fitbit has shown that it is possible to bring its Pure Pulse technology to a device this small. The Alta HR will monitor your ticker 24/7 and allow you to better measure your calorie burn, exercise smarter and keep better tabs on your overall health.
This is an activity tracker made from aircraft-grade anodized aluminium that for the first time moves away from the circular shape that Misfit is well known for. Rather than many LEDs, there is only one which displays different colours to alert you to text, call and other notifications from your phone.
The device offers pretty much the same functionality that can be found in Misfit’s other devices. It allows you to monitor sleep duration and quality; see steps taken and distance travelled; tag specific activities such as cycling or yoga; track calories burned; take selfies and control lights and music; and get vibration alerts for calls, texts and alarms. It also features movement reminders.
Misfit Ray runs on replaceable button cell batteries that run up to 6 months – so one less device to recharge in the evening. It is water resistant up to 50 metres.
The Apple Watch Series 3 delivers solid improvements over its predecessor, including LTE compatibility, a faster processor/wireless chip and a barometric altimeter.
Built into the display, there is now cellular connectivity. The watch uses the same number as your smartphone. Although users still need a SIM, the Series 3 features a small electronic SIM card.
In terms of fitness, there is a new barometric altimeter sensor. This means the watch is finally able to count floors climbed and estimate your altitude. You, of course, get all the great features of the predecessor versions including GPS, all day heart rate and more
The device offers so many other things in addition to being a fitness tracker, its health and fitness features should be viewed as a bonus rather than the main reason for purchase. As a fully featured smartwatch, there are few wearables on the market today that can rival Apple.
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