12 Surprising Things The Best Fitness Trackers Can Do

woman looking at wearable tech

In a sea of wearable tech devices catering to health and wellness tracking, making a selection, the perfect selection, can be a process. So can maximizing your purchase. Where does one start?! There are numerous articles comparing core functionalities and price, but I’d like to take a different approach and highlight some cool lesser-known facts and features connected to my three favorite. Although in no particular preference order, these have risen to the top after testing and vetting more than 20 fitness trackers!

Garmin Vivofit—a.k.a. The Athletic One

Garmin has a reputation of owning the athletic space with loyal runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes, etc., who swear by their core products. The Vivofit is their initial entry into the activity tracking space, and it does not disappoint! Here are some of the unique things this option offers.

  • With a Garmin chest strap, this activity tracker provides detailed heart rate info.
  • Most activity trackers have a tag that reads “water resistant,” referring only to sweat and incidental water/splashing. The Vivofit can be submerged in up to 50 meters of water—making it the only device users can use(and get activity credit!) while swimming.
  • The Vivofit also is the only device in this space that has a battery that lasts over a year—without needing a charge! It uses coin cell batteries. When the battery dies, just swap it out.
  • This fitness tracker works with ANT+ wireless technology, which gives the user the ability to transmit low grade frequency (data) and connect with many devices/sources vs. just one like Bluetooth technology. This comes in handy when signals are low to non-existent.
  • The data the Vivofit captures can be shared across a wide platform with other paired Garmin devices (bike computer, running watch, tri watch, etc.) in Garmin’s in-depth app called Garmin Connect.

Polar Loop—a.k.a. The Smart One

Similar to Garmin, Polar has had a reputation of catering to the sports-specific world; mostly runners. The Polar Loop in particular offers some unique additions to the space.

  • If you’re an equestrian, this device helps measure and monitor your horse-based activities.
  • Polar offers “smart coaching”—basically a set of algorithms that calculate and estimate your activities to provide a road map to hit your goals (short and long term).
  • The Loop is the only device where the user can customize the strap specifically for their wrist by cutting and trimming the strap.

UP by Jawbone—a.k.a. The Pretty One

One of the first makers in this space, they’ve relied on their ability to look, feel, and wear more like a piece of jewelry than an activity tracker.

  • The UP has a unique ability to blend in a user’s ecosystem (of apps) vs. specifically living in the device’s app world.
  • Similar to Polar’s Smart Coach, Jawbone has a recent release of an algorithm that calculates users’ sleeping patterns and trends—one of the main reasons users tend to invest in activity trackers.
  • The UP is the only device that uses a formula to calculate the user’s heart rate vs. using a strap or continuous blood flow monitoring.
  • After a workout (step-based), the UP can recognize the activity by the user’s movements (think tennis, hiking, Zumba, etc.).

Warning: Check for recent device updates and upgrades before making a purchase. 

Happy tracking!

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Tony has a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Exercise Science from the University of Minnesota, as well as an MBA from Augsburg College. As a self-proclaimed “gym rat,” he has over 20 years of in-club experience with exercise programing, workout generation, training, and coaching. He’s an avid runner and triathlete with numerous races under his belt, from 10ks, Ragnar relay events, and triathlons, to everything in between. He has a passion for “healthy living” that incorporates “clean eating” as the core of his strategy with intense, calculated workouts and an active lifestyle rounding out the mix. He embraces all things “wearable tech” and utilizes mobile apps and gadgets from activity trackers, sport and tri watches, cycle computers to smart watches. He’s a family man who wants to teach his kids how to fall in love with healthy living and a balanced lifestyle.