We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Fitness trackers include a wide range of products. Some merely count steps, whereas others monitor daily activities, measure sleep, track calorie burn, and offer health tips through an app.
The best fitness tracker for a person depends on their health goals and budget, as well as the specific fitness activities or health metrics that they wish to track.
In this article, we discuss how fitness trackers can benefit people and the conditions for which they could provide meaningful data. We then provide more information about four of the best fitness trackers available to buy.
Different fitness trackers monitor different behaviors and metrics. Trackers offer several benefits, including:
- tracking activity, including calories burned
- monitoring sleep
- monitoring heart rate
Seeing these numbers may motivate people to make more healthful decisions. A fitness tracker may also help some individuals identify a previously unnoticed symptom or understand how their lifestyle affects their health.
People who use fitness trackers should consider that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate these devices. Their readings are not always reliable, and the metrics that they track are not necessarily the most significant measures of fitness or health.
Before trying a fitness tracker to monitor their health, a person should discuss specific metrics and the best options for tracking them with their doctor.
In some cases, fitness trackers may help people manage certain health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular health, asthma, and sleep disorders.
A fitness tracker cannot detect diabetes, but it may help those with a confirmed diagnosis manage their symptoms, eat a healthful diet, and become or continue to be physically active. People with diabetes who lose weight may experience fewer symptoms, so trackers could be especially helpful and motivating.
Learn more about diabetes here.
Some fitness trackers that record sleep behavior may help monitor certain conditions, such as asthma. In a 2020 study in females with asthma, nighttime wakings predicted changes in lung function. A sleep tracker was able to monitor these changes, making it a useful tool for daily asthma self-management.
Learn more about asthma here.
Some fitness trackers keep track of nighttime wakings. This monitoring can help a person detect sleep disorders and better understand their energy levels. In some people, frequent night waking may be a sign of sleep apnea or, in other cases, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Learn more about GERD here.
People hoping to achieve a moderate body weight, whether through weight loss or gain, may find fitness trackers helpful. They can also help people maintain a certain weight in the long term. Many devices monitor the number of calories that people burn through exercise and measure other factors that are important for weight management.
People who are not trying to gain or lose weight may not usually monitor their weight. However, a fitness tracker that measures activity levels may support