While you’re on lockdown you might find your health and fitness suffers, with limited access to the outdoors and a cupboard full of snacks taking its toll on the waistline. There’s a solution though, in the form of fitness trackers.
Now that exercise time is a valuable commodity in most countries, it’s more important than ever to make the most of it, and a fitness tracker or health-focused smartwatch can do this. They can help you track your exercise and overall activity levels, both when you’re outdoors and stuck inside, and keep you thinking about your fitness without breaking the bank.
To help you understand why exercise wearables are so useful right now, we’ll talk you through five ways they can help you right now, and give examples of some of the best to look at too.
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They let you maximize workout time
If workout time is brief, it’s worth finding ways to make the most of it, and fitness trackers can help you track how much exercise you do. This can help you see how far you went, as well as see how many calories you burnt and how many steps you did along the way.
Most fitness trackers have different modes for running, walking, cycling, and usually plenty of others too, so no matter what outdoor activity you’re doing, fitness trackers could be really useful to keep on top of your fitness.
In addition, in countries with mandated limits to exercise time, a fitness tracker with a timer (as they nearly all have) can help you make sure you’re not out too long, or don’t walk too far.
They can help you improve fitness
Exercise bands and fitness-centric smartwatches don’t just track your workouts, but can provide feedback, activity logs and advice to help you actively improve the way you get fit, and that’s going to be doubly useful if you’re working your way up from locked-down couch potato.
Some wearables can break down your workout, telling you if you pushed too hard, went too far, slacked off a little, or kept the right pace throughout. Others can give you detailed feedback like cadence, pace and altitude, and can let you track these metrics over time to help measure your progress and assess your performance on different routes (hill sessions are great for your fitness, but can't be compared like-for-like with a long, slow weekend run).
Especially useful are fitness trackers with 'body battery', sleep and rest trackers, which can tell if you’re well rested, and help you plan your workouts to avoid over-training. This can be especially useful if you’re trapped indoors a lot, because you can often push yourself too hard if freedom is only a brief treat.
One of the best wearables for helping you build your fitness is the Honor Magic Watch 2, and you can see its prices in your region below:
They can provided some needed company
Exercising alone can be a challenge if you're used to working out with a club, but wearables can help. While you'll use your phone for communication and connectivity more than an fitness tracker, some bands and watches can give you a sense of exercising together with community features.
For example, Fitbit devices are well known for their accompanying app, which lets you see the weekly or daily steps, and other stats, from your friends and family, letting you compete in some friendly rivalry to see who can walk or run further.
The ability to see how far your loved ones have walked is an okay stand-in for actually going on walks with them, and a sense of competition is great motivation to make the most of the scant free time you can get to exercise.
You can also link the Fitbit app to Strava – one of the best apps around for keeping you connected to your regular workout buddies. You can join virtual clubs for running, walking, cycling, aerobics and more; leave kudos and comments for your friends; share photos from your daily activities and avoid the loneliness of exercising solo.
If you want a great Fitbit that’ll keep you connected to people, with some decent features too, perhaps check out the Fitbit Versa 2. The best prices for it in your region can be found below:
You can use fitness trackers indoors too
Your fitness tracker isn’t just going to assist you when you’re out and about exercising, but they can also be a huge help when you’re indoors.
As well as all the features they have like telling the time, passing on notifications and counting all those steps between your bedroom, the kitchen and the bathroom, many have indoor exercise modes.
So if you’ve got a treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine or cross trainer, for example, fitness trackers will let you record your exercise on the machine including heart rate and fat burnt, more accurately than the machine will.
Even if you’re simply performing bodyweight exercises like press-ups and sit-ups, or makeshift weight training with the side of your bed or bags of sugar, a fitness tracker will let you know how well you did.
One of the most versatile fitness trackers available now is the Garmin Vivosmart 4, which is designed for more amateur exercisers than Garmin’s more premium smartwatches. Check out its prices in your region below:
Fitness trackers don’t break the bank
One of the best perks of a fitness tracker (as opposed to a smartwatch with exercise monitoring functions) is that most of them are pretty affordable – in fact, the majority only cost double-digit sums.
You won’t be out of pocket, then, if you want an exercise band that can track your steps and workouts, as well as sometimes your sleep too. Some even have smartwatch features like notification handling, all for a really low sum.
So if you’re looking to save money right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get tech to help your fitness. We’ve even got a round-up of the best cheap fitness trackers so you can easily get your exercise companion.
At the top of that list right now is the Fitbit Inspire HR, and you can check out the best prices for that in your region below:
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Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.