The age of activity trackers is well and truly here. By now, not just tech and fitness geeks, but even trainers and medical professionals are recommending their use, especially for people who lead largely sedentary lives. “If you are someone who has set out to achieve your fitness goals, then these applications can be very helpful...these gadgets can help you significantly in setting and achieving your goals. But please remember there is a 10 to 20 per cent deviation with respect to the figures,” said Dr Dhananjay Gupta, director of orthopedics at Fortis Hospital in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj.
However, at the top end of the spectrum, these activity trackers come with in-built GPS, and are very reliable and accurate for tracking sports like running, cycling, swimming and walking. These wearables can track your exact route and almost exact distance using their GPS units, and this data is much more accurate than the standard daily step or calorie count data. All the trackers listed below track steps, sleep, heart rate and come loaded with GPS.Here are the top five in the market today.
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Garmin FR 55: Garmin remains the easiest choice for anyone into endurance sports and this new entry level offering doesn’t disappoint. It tracks not only your runs, rides, walks, hikes and swims but can also record your strength training. Equally importantly, it has a battery that lasts two weeks on a single charge. Thanks to the number of years Garmin has spent analyzing user data and improving its product, the FR 55 has the best algorithm and hence the most reliable data on steps, sleep and calories burnt. It also provides excellent data on different metrics for running, cycling and swimming. This is a workhorse but it doesn’t have a high-resolution display. That’s a sacrifice one has to make to keep the prices low. Price: From ₹20,007.
Coros Pace 2: Coros shot to fame when the world noticed a green unit with red highlights on the wrist of marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge on his way to retaining his Olympic crown at Tokyo 2020. The Coros Pace 2 does everything that the most popular Garmin model, Forerunner 245, does but costs less. It also boasts of a battery that outruns the Garmin 245 both with and without GPS. Though the bezel is a bit thick and the display is not as crisp as other trackers on the market, this is a great buy for endurance athletes who need the detailed data. Price: From ₹20,216.
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Fitbit Sense: Fitbit started out with activity trackers, then they dropped smart watches with activity trackers in the market and then, rather late in the day, launched GPS-enabled units. The company launched two GPS units, the Charge 3 and Sense, one after another. Sense is the one you ought to go for and it differentiates itself by focusing on health metrics. It can be used to measure not only your heart rate but blood oxygen levels, temperature and even an ECG—all functions that are pretty common with most trackers. The catch here is to use most of these features you need a paid premium membership. The battery life is just about decent at 6 days and it comes with a fast charge feature. Price: From ₹22,999.
Apple Watch Series 7: We cannot have a list of activity trackers without the Apple Watch. The latest Series 7 comes with a bigger screen and slimmer bezel than ever before, the touch screen is excellent and it’s pretty much an extension of your phone on your wrist. With the GPS + cellular option, it also becomes your mobile phone. It can track all your fitness activities, can do an ECG, track your heart rate, detect falls and trigger emergency calls. It also tells you times you up to 20 seconds when you wash your hands! My biggest grouse with this watch is its meagre battery life. It needs to be charged every single day. Price: From ₹41,900.
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Titan Traq: This is Titan’s first foray into trackers and the effort falls short of the other products available on the market. The design, humongous size and interface feel dated and the unit takes a while to lock onto satellites to enable GPS tracking. However, the Titan Traq does the basics right and tracks route, pace and heart rate efficiently. It has a decent battery life and comes at a very attractive price point for a tracker that can be used for a triathlon. Price: From ₹8,460.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.