Not too long ago, activity trackers started off as chunky and unattractive devices aimed at fitness freaks and techno-buffs. Thankfully, those days are behind us and the tech community has grasped the importance of designing products that are both functional and attractive.
Essential reading: Wearables that keep you safe
This article is our pick of the best fitness trackers for women, devices 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 activity and sleep so should not be confused with safety wearables, i.e. devices which make it easy to call for help in case of emergency. If you’re only interested only in smartwatches, check out this link.
Fitbit Versa 2 comes with some nifty upgrades over the original such longer battery life, more powerful processor and extras such as Amazon Alexa support. We get the same square-ish display although it is now AMOLED instead of LCD so more high-res than previously. It is also always on, although when not in use the thing will just show off a few key bits of info.
In terms of 24/7 activity monitoring the device ticks most boxes. The full list of sensors is pretty comprehensive and includes: a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, Optical heart rate monitor, Altimeter, Ambient light sensor, Vibration motor, Wi-Fi antenna (802.11 b/g/n) and NFC. You also get Fitbit’s new female health tracking feature, along with on-board storage for music and NFC payments (selected models). There is no built-in GPS though, only connected GPS.
With a battery life of around 5 days, this is a stylish device which represents a great compromise between a fully fledged smartwatch and fitness tracker.
Vivoactive 4 is Garmin’s take on an all-purpose smartwatch. The original came only in one size but the company has now introduced two, a 45mm stainless steel model and a 40mm model for small wrists (4S). There’s also a more classy Venu option which comes with an AMOLED display.
Features include fitness tracking essentials, as well as NFC for on-the-go payments, music storage and built-in GPS. This generation also slaps on a Pulse Ox sensor for tracking your blood oxygen automatically during the night, and on-demand during the day.
Other than that, there’s the Body Battery function, abnormal heart rate alerts thanks to the upgraded heart rate sensor (which also tracks heart rate under water), as well as Yoga workouts, Pilates workouts and on-screen workout animations. Battery life is about a week, depending on the model chosen. That’s not bad considering the thing has an always-on display.
Founded in 2014, Bellabeat is a wellness-oriented outfit dedicated to creating attractive connected wearables for women. This smart piece of jewellery is designed to track your health. Wear it as a necklace or bracelet with accessories or items you already own – or clip it to any clothing item as a stylish accent.
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.
No need to worry about charging. The tracker is powered by a replaceable battery that lasts up to 6 months. There is also 14 days worth of built-in memory, so you only need to sync it every couple of weeks.
Right are a few versions to choose from including Leaf and Urban. Slightly smaller in design, Urban has advanced features to help you deal with stress. The 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.
This 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 a very slim form-factor.
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 tiny size, 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.
In additional to all the usual fitness tracking smarts, the novelty of Vivosmart 4 is that it comes with a blood oxygen sensor and it will keep tabs on your body’s energy reserves.
The oxygen saturation feature measures your oxygen levels at night, allowing you to better understand your sleep quality. You can also check your oxygen levels on demand during the day.
The other interesting feature is what Garmin calls Body Battery energy monitoring. This uses a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data to let you know when to push hard, when to rest.
The other features are fairly standard include the usual step, distance, calories, floors, heart rate and advanced sleep tracking. The wearable will also keep tabs on stress, VO2 Max, reps and sets in the gym. No built-in GPS, though.
Charge 3 is a new and improved version of Fitbit’s best selling Charge 2 fitness tracker. It comes with a much bigger and better OLED display which is fully responsive to touch.
Waterproofing is another important upgrade. Charge 3 has a water-resistance rating of 5 ATM which means you can dunk it down to depths of 50 metres. It will track your swim sessions, too.
Battery life is an excellent 7 days on a single charge. This beats its predecessor by 2 days, allowing it to go 40% longer.
All in all, this is a sleek looking device which comes with everything an average person needs to keep tabs on their activity 24/7. It will even link 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. No built-in GPS though.
Last but certainly not least are the smart features. Charge 3 comes with call, calendar, text and smartphone app notifications. There is a host of Fitbit and third-party apps, too. For an additional $20, you can slap on Fitbit Pay to the host of features.
Along with its lower spec sibling, Inspire HR consolidates the company’s fitness tracker line. We suggest, though, you go for the heart-rate enabled version as its a small price difference.
The thing takes everything offered by its predecessors and packages it in a slim and attractive form factor. Inspire HR is a good option for those starting to track their fitness as it covers the basics without overloading you with data. The only sensor that is missing is an altimeter for counting floors, but this will not be a dealbreaker to most.
Having said that, if you’re more serious about exercising you might be better off going for Charge 3 or Versa. In addition to the larger screen (which means more on-screen data) and altimeter, they come with more detailed swim tracking, slightly longer battery life and more smartwatch functions.
Those that prefer a slimmer, more discreet look will be perfectly happy with Inspire HR. It’s currently one of the best value for money fitness trackers in Fitbit’s range.
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 may not be the best fitness tracker in the world but it probably is the best smartwatch. The big news with Series 5 is the always-on display. Yes, it’s here. The Apple Watch on your wrist will finally never go dark.
The Cupertino outfit has opted to leave out the sleep tracking functionality for another year. It would be kind of pointless introducing it considering most people will still opt to recharge their device during the night.
In terms of fitness, the device covers most of what you’ll need. There are some health functions, too, such as the much talked about ECG sensor, fall alerts, low and heart rate alerts and more.
As a fully featured smartwatch, there are few wearables on the market today that can rival Apple. With each iteration, the device is getting better at tracking your fitness, too.
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