Smartwatches and activity trackers are the latest big thing in consumer tech, and it’s certainly tempting to splash out on a top quality fitness wearable just like you might do with a smartphone. The number of functions they perform, and their supporting phone and desktop software that lets you track your progress, makes them hugely tempting and persuades most of us that such tech provides significant benefits.
The fact is, however, that a lot of people (perhaps most people) only take advantage of the most basic functions provided by their activity-tracking wearables. If you’re someone who runs, cycles or lifts weights simply to stay healthy, or you’ve recently begun exercising for the first time, an expensive investment in fitness technology may not be right for you. Who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on something they don’t use properly?
To show just how affordable it can be to gain that extra edge in achieving your goals, we’ve taken a look at the capabilities of some of the cheapest fitness trackers on the market. Have a look and make an informed decision for yourself – after all, it’s your body and your money!
Much like buying a budget car, cheap fitness trackers tend to be the smallest and lightest pieces of tech in a company’s range. Products such as the Fitbit Zip or the Jawbone UP Move are tiny devices no bigger than a table tennis ball, and they come with built-in clips to attach securely to any part of your clothing. This means no big, bulky wristbands or watches that make you look like a wannabe Olympian, and no need to carry a hefty smartphone which bounces around in your pocket whilst exercising.
Cheap means basic in just about any market, and activity trackers are no exception. Fortunately, basic covers just about everything that the average person needs. Standard features for an entry level fitness gadget include tracking steps, distance covered, energy expended (i.e. how many calories/kilojoules you burn) and time taken. All of this is great news for the hordes of people who enjoy walking, running, cycling and playing ball sports, to all of which a fitness tracker is perfectly suited.
More advanced features include tracking the duration and quality of your sleep, a silent vibrating alarm to wake you from said sleep, and how many floors you’ve climbed (i.e. if you’re climbing stairs or hiking). Different brands often include proprietary features, but the basic ones above are the must-haves if you’re out shopping for an activity tracker.
Probably the biggest advantage to buying a cheap fitness tracker is, of course, the price – it’s what we’ve defined them by after all! A basic fitness gizmo will typically start at around $60-$70, making them very accessible for someone who wants to get a taste of a scientific approach to getting healthier. Many brands have multiple models at several different price points also – if you want to buy something a bit more capable, it’s usually not a big step up in price.
Furthermore, the major brands such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Garmin all provide free software for you to use in tandem with your device on your phone or computer. These apps let you download the data from your device (often wirelessly) and compare it over time – you can see graphs of how your run times have improved, how your daily activity has increased, and so much more. Some applications even support tracking your food intake, making it even easier to build some healthy habits.
Cheap fitness trackers are a great starting point if you’re keen on new technology which has genuine benefits in helping people live more active lives. If you’re looking for a fitness wearable but have no idea where to start, check out our guide to fitness trackers.