The best new fitness trackers and smartwatches for every activity

best fitness trackers
Samantha Simmonds,-Digital Writer

Get set for a healthy and active new year with the best new fitness trackers and smartwatches for walking, running and more

If you want an added incentive to stick to your new year’s fitness resolutions and your smartphone’s built-in step tracker just isn’t cutting it, now might be a good time to invest in a smartwatch. Thanks to cutting-edge sensors, the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers don’t just represent an investment in your fitness, but in your future health too. ‘Fitness trackers like the new Fitbit Sense not only provide step counting, but heart-rate monitoring, calorie-burn information and sleep tracking,’ explains Will Paterson, Partner & Assistant Buyer for Android and Smart Home.

‘Smartwatches such as the Apple Watch Series 6 help you live a healthier life by monitoring your heart rate throughout the day,’ adds Chloe Tang, Partner & Assistant Buyer for the Apple Buying Office. ‘If the watch detects any unusually high or low heart rates, it will alert you – even when you don’t feel symptoms. They also have other benefits like Tap and Pay.’

Below, you’ll find a round-up of the best new smartwatches and fitness trackers for every health goal, activity and budget. Whether you need a helping hand to guide you on the first few steps of your fitness journey, a tool to take your training to the next level or a gift for a friend, child or partner, there’s a fitness tracker or smartwatch for everyone.

The best fitness trackers for walking

Walking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep fit. ‘The Apple Watch Series 6 comes with a barometric altimeter, so you can keep count of the number of hills you’ve climbed and descended,’ explains Chloe. ‘It automatically detects when you start a workout and alerts you to fire up the Workout app. The built-in GPS means you can leave your iPhone at home, as distance, speed and pace are all precisely recorded for you.’

Looking for something with fewer frills? Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Versa connect to your phone’s GPS via Bluetooth to help you map, follow and log your routes. They all provide heart rate information, too – so you can watch your fitness improve over time.

The best fitness trackers for running

In the market for a running buddy? Available in four colours and two wrist sizes, the Garmin Forerunner 45 has on-board GPS, allows you to check pace, distance and heart rate on your run, and acts as your personal running coach with workout plans to support beginner and intermediate runners. It also has safety features such as automatic incident detection which can detect an impact and let your emergency contacts know if an accident has occurred. 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active automatically tracks and logs runs using built-in GPS, while the Garmin fenix range is especially good for runners, with GPS, heart rate monitoring and preloaded topographic maps to keep you on track for your virtual 5K, 10K or half-marathon.

‘I track all of my runs and races with my fenix, keeping an eye on my heart rate and pace to ensure I’m running at a level I can maintain for the full distance,’ says Wareable reporter and Get Sweat Go editor Tom Wheatley. ‘My favourite feature is a tool called PacePro. It allows you to upload a running route and the time you want to finish in and gives you real-time updates on the pace you should run to complete it. It even adjusts to account for hills.’

The best fitness trackers for swimming

Even if you can’t access a pool just now, it’s well worth keen swimmers investing in a watch they’ll be able to wear in the water. Just make sure it’s water resistant to 50 metres. The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE will work in the pool and open water, tracking splits, sets and strokes. The Fitbit Versa range is great for beginners, tracking laps, swim duration and calories burned. Serious about swimming? The Garmin fenix 6 Pro range allows you to design your own pool workouts and map and track your open water swims.

Steve Buckley, a former competitive swimmer and founder of popular swimming site pullbuoy, is a fenix fan. ‘For swimming, it’s important to pick a watch that is reliable when it comes to counting lengths,’ he explains. ‘I started training alone when my children were born and found I couldn’t keep track of my lengths anymore. The watch counts for me and monitors my interval times like a coach would do in a squad. The GPS function also allows me to track the distance I swim in a lake or in the sea.’  

The best fitness trackers for all-rounders

Want to switch it up a bit? Don’t worry – the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers are natural multitaskers. The affordable new Garmin Venu Sq comes preloaded with cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts for you to follow on-screen, while the swimming-proof Fitbit Inspire 2 has a variety of different goal based modes to help you make the most of every run, swim, walk, bike ride or yoga session.

‘Flexibility is key,’ Steve advises. ‘I’ve recently broken free from the pool and taken up triathlon, so I have my watch set up to show distance swum in the pool, average speed on the bike and pace for running. Look for a tracker with Bluetooth or Ant+ connectivity, which means you can pair it with a heart rate monitor or other sensors for more feedback on your training, and easily download the data to your phone and to fitness apps like Strava.’

‘The fenix 6 Pro has some nice features that use your sleep, heart rate and training data to tell you when and how you should be training, and when you should be resting,’ adds Tom. ‘I also use it for HIIT training, to see how much effort I’ve put in during a class and how many calories I’ve burned.’

At the gym, on the trails or hitting the slopes, the Garmin Forerunner is another great do-it-all tracker, monitoring heart rate, fatigue and oxygen consumption while tracking distance, balance, stride length and more. Just want an efficient, accurate way to track sleep, steps, swims and workouts? The Fitbit Sense is a great all-rounder, and even offers on-screen coaching that adapts in response to feedback.

The best fitness trackers for kids

An interactive fitness tracker can give kids a real incentive to stay active. The Fitbit Ace 2 will track the number of steps and active minutes they clock up each day, providing friendly support and encouragement with on-screen messages while allowing you to monitor their activity. ‘My kids love their Fitbits and have fun competing to reach their goal of 10,000 steps a day. They no longer whinge on long family walks which is such a bonus,’ says digital editor and mum-of-three Maggie Westhead.

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