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Beacon Senior News

The right fitness tracker for the long run

Jul 05, 2017 03:38PM ● By Adam Cochran

Have you been sleeping well? How many hours did you get last night?

Do you get up and walk around at least once an hour?

Do you feel awkward reading a text message when your phone goes off in a meeting?

Do you fumble around with your media player when you should be paying attention to what you’re doing?

Perhaps you’ve noticed that more people are wearing bulky electronic bracelets or funky, digital watch-like devices. These are called fitness trackers and they monitor how many steps you’ve taken or when you’ve been sitting too long. They may even display your heart rate or tell you how well you sleep. Some fitness trackers even control your music player.

Whether you are a fitness junkie or a couch potato, you may be interested in what a fitness tracker can do for you.

What to look for

The best fitness trackers connect wirelessly to an app on your smartphone that tracks and provides real-time reports on your activity.

Cheap trackers (under $100) generally provide basic activity monitoring, such as step counts and sleep patterns. More expensive trackers add features such as a watch, heart rate monitor and GPS. Some devices also track types of activity, laps and calorie counts.

Most devices will vibrate when you are getting a text message or phone call. Some are equipped with screens that display caller information or a summary of the text message.

The top three brands

There are dozens of fitness trackers on the market, but only three major brands tend to dominate the positive user reviews: Fitbit, Garmin and Apple.

The Apple Watch is no ordinary fitness tracker. It allows you to install apps, make phone calls and control your iPhone, but it offers enough health monitoring features to make it a serious—although expensive—fitness tracker. The latest basic model costs around $300, but they go up to $10,000 (seriously).

Fitbit and Garmin make a number of affordable trackers. Read reviews before making a purchase. Essentially, the more you spend, the more features you get, but the accuracy of the data is about the same across all devices.

Connect other apps

You may want to consider a fitness tracker that you can connect with other apps through your smartphone.

MyFitnessPal is an app that lets you track your diet. If you want an extra 200 calories in your diet, your fitness tracker will report your walk or jog data and update your calorie budget in real time.

Endomondo is an app that allows you to record your movement-based activity—runs, bike rides, swims, etc. It tracks laps and distance, and gives you real-time, audible updates through your headphones.

Runkeeper records historical and real-time data about your runs. It’s specifically designed for those interested in improving their running skills.