Carrying extra weight and obesity are a major public health concern in developed countries such as the US. This is not a problem just for adults but for the younger generation, as well. In this article we cover the best fitness trackers for teenagers.
The latest statistics show that obesity prevalence totaled 18.5% amongst Americans aged 2-19 years. This goes up to more than one in five for the teenage generation.
Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets
Physical activity guidelines suggest that teenagers need at least an hour of cardio each day. This is not really that much. They can easily get a good heart workout by playing sports, walking, dancing or even kicking a footbag in the driveway!
Kids sometimes lose interest in physical activity as they enter their teen years. Let’s face it – with the advent of technology there are lots of distractions.
You can help your teen get active by buying them an activity tracker. Educate them early on the importance of health and fitness and this can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and other medical problems later in life. If you have a fitness tracker, too, it might even promote some healthy competition.
Here are some good choices if you’re looking for a fitness band for your teen.
Inspire 2 is a budget-friendly fitness device that comes from the most popular activity band maker in the world. It is one of several Fitbits that we cover in this article.
Adopting a buttonless design, the gizmo doesn’t bring too much new to the table. But it does take everything offered by its predecessors and packages it in a slim and attractive form factor.
All the essentials are there. This includes steps, distance, calories, heart rate and a sleep tracker (Light, Deep, REM). The only thing that’s missing is an altimeter for counting floors. Not a deal-breaker for most.
For those that are interested, Inspire 2 will even link to the GPS on the smartphone to provide more precise data on pace and distance when running. Smart functionality ends at call, text and calendar notifications so your kids have no excuse they’ve not seen your message.
At 10 days, battery life is decent. The water-resistant device is a good option for those starting to track fitness as it covers the basics without overloading with data. It’s sturdy and does what it does well.
Whether you have an iPhone or Android phone, this device will have you covered. Like all Fitbits it taps into the iOS or Android smartphone app and there’s a website dashboard to alongside this.
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|Release date: March 2020 | Display: 1.4 inch grayscale OLED touchscreen | Battery life: up to 10 days | Water resistance: 5 ATM (swim-proof) | Weight: 20 grams | Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, vibration motor, optical heart rate sensor | Built-in GPS: No | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
Mi Band 6 is the updated version of one of the most popular budget fitness bands around. The much anticipated wearable has been selling like hot cakes since its launch earlier this year. This is not the cheapest wearable around but it is one of the best value for money activity devices you can buy.
The look of the sixth generation tracker is very similar to that of its predecessor. After all, this is a fitness band so there’s only so much you can change. But now Mi Band coms with a huge 1.56 inch AMOLED display that has 50% more viewing space than the previous generation. The actual physical size of the device is still pretty much the same. Xiaomi has managed to shrink the bezels around the edges creating more space for a larger display.
The same rugged, rubberized design is still there, ideal for the younger generation. Good durability is important – no point in buying something fancy that might get damaged quickly. This is a no nonsense device.
Mi Band gets the basics right and with its lightweight, slick, water-resistant design and fitness tracking smarts. Plus you get some more advanced health functions that come in the form of a blood oxygen sensor.
There are some non-fitness functions, too, such as smartphone and social media messages, Caller ID, alarm clock, reminder alerts, weather, alarm and lots of clock faces. The fitness tracker has awesome battery life and can stay on for up to 20 days before you’ll need to reach for the USB charger cable. This is a device that ticks most boxes and will not break the bank.
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|Release date: March 2021 | Display: 1.56 inch OLED | Battery life: up to 20 days | Water resistance: 5 ATM | Weight: 23 grams | Sensors: 6. axis sensor: low power-consumption – 3-axis accelerometer and 3 axis gyroscope, PPG heart rate sensor, SpO2 | Built-in GPS: No (Connected GPS) | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
Vivosmart 4 is another great option. This fitness band is perhaps the most advanced on this list due to its impressive list of sensors. The thing will even monitor blood oxygen levels at night, allowing you to better understand your kids sleep quality. The sleep monitoring functionality can potentially be used to identify conditions such as apnea, although Garmin will stop short of diagnosing these.
The other features include the usual step, distance, calories, floors, heart rate, advanced sleep tracking and lots of exercise modes. Like many other Garmin wearables Vivosmart 4 will also keep tabs on stress, VO2 Max, reps and sets in the gym and connect to a smartphone’s GPS.
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|Release date: September 2018 | Display: 0.26 inch OLED | Battery life: up to 7 days | Water resistance: 5 ATM | Weight: 23 grams | Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, barometeric altimeter, optical heart rate sensor, SpO2 | Built-in GPS: No (Connected GPS) | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
This is another little wearable that fits in the budget category. It was designed to assist just about everyone in embracing activity tracking. A few years old now, it still represents a viable option.
A little different than other devices in this article, Withings Go comes in the guise of a device that can be worn on the wrist, the pocket, the belt or the shoe. Simply attach it and you are set to go.
The most novel aspect of the gizmo is its e-Ink screen. This is always-on to show a user’s progress via 88 segments with the middle icon switching from a stick person to a star when your daily goal is achieved. When you press on the center of the display the tracker will switch to a standard watch display.
There’s automatic 24/7 activity tracking for walking, running, swimming and sleeping, as well as recognition of a variety of daily activities. At night, Go can distinguish between light and deep sleep cycles.
Another benefit of the e-Ink screen is that its not very power-hungry. Withings Go runs on a coin cell battery that you’ll only need to replace once every 8 months. This option is for those that want the basics, without all the bells and whistles that can be found in some other devices covered in this article.
|Release date: March 2016 | Display: 1.4 inch always-on E Ink | Battery life: over 8 months | Water resistance: 5 ATM | Weight: 9 grams | Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis geomagnetic sensor | Built-in GPS: No | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
This is an option that can be used for younger children, too, considering it is designed for those 8 and above. Fitbit’s first ever fitness tracker for kids automatically tracks steps, active minutes, sleep and encourages the younger generation to be active. Under the hood is only an accelerometer and vibration motor – so we’re talking about the basics here. No heart rate monitor, for example.
Those that are familiar with the company will notice that the tracker looks a lot like the Alta. Fitbit has taken that device and adopted it for the younger generation.
Because it has a B&W OLED tap display, your kids can see their progress in real time. Fitbit’s family account lets parent customize what their little ones can see on the screen. It also provides parents with the option to choose who their kids can connect with.
For a bit of extra motivation, the tracker spits out rewards for moving with celebratory messages and fun, virtual badges. Measuring only 15mm in width, the shower-proof device has up to 5 days of battery life and comes in a choice of vibrant colors.
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|Release date: December 2018 | Display: 1.4 inch B&W OLED tap display | Battery life: up to 5 days | Water resistance: sweat, rain and splash-proof | Weight: 23 grams | Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer | Built-in GPS: No | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
The Amazfit Bip S is a low cost fitness tracker watch. The device looks very much like it’s very popular predecessor. Upgrades on this version include proper water resistance (5 ATM), an improved GPS chip and heart rate monitor, new sports modes and more.
Battery life, the big selling point of its predecessor, is still awesome at 30 days (22 hours with GPS switched on), and the watch is even lighter now coming in at just 31 grams. There’s a transflective color display on-board which has the benefit of having decent readability in bright, outside conditions, and being always on.
This is not the best smartwatch you can buy – far from it. But it offers a lot.
In our review, we note that this is not a sports watch. But it offers a lot of the same functions for less than half the price. In fact, you will struggle to find a timepiece that delivers so much for the price. Bip devices have a loyal following for a reason.
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|Release date: February 2020 | Display: 1.28 inch reflective color display | Battery life: up to 40 days | Water resistance: 5 ATM | Weight: 46 grams | Sensors: BioTracker PPG Bio-Tracking optical sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis geomagnetic sensor | Built-in GPS: Yes | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
Luxe is a one of the newer Fitbit devices. Many consider this to be the best looking device the company has churned out to date. The minimalistic design might appeal to some, but not to others. Gone is the Fitbit logo below the display, there are no hard angles or edges, or even physical buttons.
The highlight of Luxe is its absolutely beautiful AMOLED (124 x 206 pixel) display. The menu system is the same as you get on most Fitbits – you navigate your way around by taping and swiping on the display.
The strap is detachable, but for teenagers we suggest opting for the silicon bands. These are held secure in place by an anodised metal buckle and tang. The build is very sturdy – we’re talking about polished stainless steel here. At 26 grams the device can hardly be felt on the wrist.
Under the hood there’s quite a bit going on. The tech includes an optical heart rate monitor, 3-axis accelerometer, SpO2, temperature sensor, vibration motor and ambient light sensor. There’s also Connected GPS, so no built-in GPS. For that you’ll need to opt for Charge 5. Battery life is around 5 days.
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|Release date: April 2021 | Display: 0.76 inch AMOLED | Battery life: 5 days | Water resistance: 5 ATM | Weight: 26 grams | Sensors: -axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, optical heart rate sensor, SpO2, temperature | Built-in GPS: No (Connected GPS) | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
Fitbit Charge 5
Charge 5 is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to activity and health tracking. The upgrade from Generation 4 is quite big. There are also some nice design enhancements. For example, the tracker now supports a full color AMOLED touchscreen. The predecessor had a not-too-impressive TFT Grayscale display. Plus the look has been upgraded – no doubt, the device borrows a lot from Luxe in this department.
As far as the new technology, the tracker sports ECG and EDA sensors. The only other Fitbit with these is Sense – but that one is a fully fledged smartwatch. The two pack pretty much the same technology on-board, the main difference is that one comes in the form of an activity band the other in the form of a smartwatch.
It is worth noting, to get the full benefit from the advanced sensors you will need a Fitbit Premium subscription. But each purchase comes with free 6 months access. That should give your teen enough time to decide whether you need all the advanced stats.
The built-in GPS can also be found. If your teenager is seriously into outdoor sports such as running, they will appreciate this. Charge 5 is one of only a handful of fitness bands with built-in GPS.
Finally, let’s not forget to mention the smart functionality. This comes in the form of notification support, NFC for contactless payments, the ability to operate Spotify and more.
For those that do not need all of this, consider Charge 4. It can be picked up at sizable discounts and covers the basics really well. You don’t get the fancy design and color display, but the most important functionality is there.
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|Release date: August 2021 | Display: 1.04 inch AMOLED | Battery life: up to 7 days | Water resistance: 5 ATM | Weight: 15 grams (without strap) | Sensors: Multi-path optical heart rate sensor, multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with EDA Scan app, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, SpO2, temperature | Built-in GPS: Yes | Music storage: No | Cellular: No|
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