Apple Watch Series 8 GPS, 45mm, Regular
Upgrade your tech and jump on the fitness tracker bandwagon with our edit of the best
Thanks to cutting-edge tech, the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers don’t just represent an investment in your current fitness, but in your future health too. There’s the body temperature and heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch 8, which can detect health issues before you even display symptoms, and the sleep tracking element on the Fitbit Sense 2, which gives tips on how to improve your deep sleep as well as asking questions about how you’re feeling throughout the day.
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.
Walking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep fit. The Apple Watch takes hills into account and also detects when you start a workout. It suggests movement, too, if you’ve been sitting still for ages – writing on a laptop, say. If the ‘always at work’ element of wearing a smartwatch gives you the fear, think about investing in one with a GPS, which means that you can leave your phone at home but still precisely track your workout with your watch.
Looking for something with fewer frills? Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Versa connect to your phone GPS via Bluetooth to help you map, follow and log your routes. They provide heart rate information, too – so you can watch your fitness improve over time.
In the market for a running buddy? Available in three colours, the Garmin Forerunner 55 has on-board GPS, allows you to check pace, distance and heart rate on your run, and acts as your personal coach with training plans to support beginner and intermediate runners. It also tells you which intensity to go for in your next run.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 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 further.
‘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.’
If you’re a keen swimmer, it’s worth investing in a watch that’s water resistant to 50 metres. The Apple Watch Series 8 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 range allows you to design your own pool workouts, and map and track your open water swims.
Steve Buckley, a former competitive swimmer and the founder of Pullbuoy, is a Fenix fan. ‘For swimming, it’s important to pick a watch that is reliable when it comes to counting lengths,’ he says. ‘I started training alone when my children were born and found I couldn’t keep track of my lengths any more. The watch counts for me and monitors my interval times like a coach would in a squad. The GPS function also allows me to track the distance I swim in a lake or in the sea.’
The latest smartwatches and fitness trackers are natural multitaskers. The more affordable new Garmin Venu Sq comes preloaded with cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts, 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 says. ‘I’ve recently 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 download the data to your phone and to fitness apps like Strava.’
‘The Fenix 6 Pro has 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 burnt.’
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.