If you're currently a little, shall we say, sedentary, and are looking to get fit in 2015, a fitness tracker (aka a fitness band, aka "those things you wear that count your steps) is the best place to start. They can make a real difference to how you look and feel, without the need for a gym or massive exertion. Prices range from around £50 to £150+.
Fitness bands went global in 2014, with splendid offerings such as the Nike Fuelband SE, Fitbit Charge and Jawbone Up taking the market by storm. While fitness watcheslike theTomTom Multisport CardioandPolar M400add more high-end features such as GPS tracking and heart-rate monitoring, these bands stick to the basics of fitness: they count how many steps you take daily and estimate the calories you burn doing so. Many also monitor your sleep, letting you know when you're in a deep sleep or just dozing fitfully.
2015 is going to be another big year for the wearable. We've already had offerings from Fitbit and the latest bands from Jawbone (the UP2 and UP4) are joining the UP3 to make a rather compelling line-up.
More importantly, the best of these offer context and tips on how to improve your fitness.
Your progress will also be tracked via apps for your Mac or PC, and your smartphone (Android and iOS primarily, but some bands have Windows Phones and BlackBerry compatibility - make sure you check). They also allow you to share your weight-losing, cardio-pumping exploits online, comparing them with others' and gamifying your health search. These are all things that make getting in shape less of a chore
Some of the apps and web services also allow you to enter everything you eat, calculating calories consumed as well as burned, in order to help you stick to daily diet goals. That does seem like a bit of a chore to us, but if that's your bag, go for it we say!
As noted, these are not for super-serious fitness regimes. While swimmers can use the waterproof likes of the Misfit Shine and Withings Activité Pop, and some of the bands can detect when you're running, these are usually not much use for cyclists, unless you want to strap it to your ankle instead of your wrist. They also don't really have the accuracy and wealth of data that "proper" athletes requre.
However, they are cheap, and great if you're a couch potato wanting to get in shape, or someone who works out regularly but also wants an easy fitness boost by increasing the number of steps you take daily. With the likes of the Withings Activité, they're even, whisper it, getting quite stylish.
Watch ultra-runner Kieran Alger talk you through the best fitness bands to buy in this video…
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Built on an ‘advanced multi sensor platform’, the latest addition to Jawbone’s family of fitness trackers features a newly designed tri-axis accelerometer, bioimpedance sensors, plus skin and ambient temperature sensors. But what do they all mean? Well, Jawbone says that they can measure your resting heart rate, perspiration, BMI and hydration, some of which we haven’t seen in a fitness band yet. The UP 3 should also be much better at auto-tracking your activity, while the sleep tracking tech has also seen a big improvement. Along with telling you if you were in a deep, light or REM sleep, it’ll also give you handy tips on how to improve your slumber. Unlike the Fitbit Charge, there’s no display, so you’ll have to check the iOS or Android apps for detailed stats, but you will get a week of charge and it’s water resistant to 10m.
£149.99 | Jawbone
Fitbit Charge and Charge HR
The long awaited update to the Flex, the Charge and Charge HR feature some nifty updates. The biggest change is noticeable straight away and that’s the new OLED display, which shows the current time, along with a quick read out of your daily stats and, taking a page from a smartwatch, incoming calls to your connected smartphone. While there’s no GPS on board, it does boasts a load of sensors to keep a track of all your steps, sleep and the like. The HR version also packs an optical heart rate sensor, for 24/7 blood tracking. You’ll get around seven days of use from the Charge and the addition of the heart rate monitor takes the HR down to five days.
Charge £99, Charge HR £119 | Fitbit
Razer Nabu X
At CES 2014, Razer unleashed its first wearable with the Nabu band. Even though the Nabu has yet to see a full release, Razer is back with a slightly cheaper option, the Nabu X. Ditching the display, which was there to show you notifications from your phone, the Nabu X replaces it with three lights, which flash when you need to check your device. The regular set of fitness features is still here and Razer is hoping in the future you’ll be able to easily communicate with other wearers with just a tap.
$49.99 | Razer
Looking a lot more like a smartwatch than your typical fitness band from Fitbit, the Surge has from a rubber strap and a stainless steel buckle, plus a 1.25-inch monochrome LCD touchscreen display. Headlining the Surge is the 24/7 optical heart rate sensor, that’ll keep an eye on your blood and give you accurate readings when you’re working out. There’s also onboard GPS, a must for runners, that gives you much better run tracking and results. Like the majority of fitness bands you’ll have access to some strong sleep tracking features, plus this is done automatically, so you won’t have to manually set it into a sleep mode before you hit the hay. You’ll also be able to beam smartphone notifications from your phone and even switch your music, which is a nice addition.
£200 | Fitbit
Jawbone UP Move
Nope, that’s not a re-designed Misfit Flash your gazing upon, but in-fact Jawbone’s first attempt at a bargain fitness band. Coming it at just £39.99, this is one of cheapest fitness accessories we’ve seen so far, yet it still packs some essential features. It’s made from an anodised aluminium material, will be available in five colours and just like the Flash, boasts a ring of LEDs around the face to give you a quick readout of your progress. Just like the previous Jawbone bands, it uses MotionX tech to track your steps and sleep, beaming the results to the great mobile companion app.
£39.99 | Jawbone
Garmin Vivofit 2
While it’s only a minor update to the already impressive Vivofit from 2014, the sequel does bring a couple of new features to the party. Audible alerts tell you to get up if you’ve been sitting at your desk for too long while a new backlight brightens up the two-colour OLED display. The biggest update though is in design, with new models coming complete with interchangeable bands constructed from leather and steel.
£99 | Garmin
Lenovo Vibe Band
Lenovo, just like everyone else, is getting into the wearable tech game with the Vibe Band VB10. Looking quite similar to Sony’s SmartBand from a few months ago, the fitness and smartwatch hybrid packs an e-ink display, rubberised straps and a battery that’ll give you about a week of use. Like most fitness trackers, the Vibe Band will monitor your sleep, steps and calories, but it’ll show you notifications from your connect smartphone too.
$89 | Lenovo
Withings Activite Pop
If you want a watch that can also track your sleep and steps, you don’t need to look much further than the Activite Pop from Withings. While the original Activite was a Swiss made timepiece which some added extras, it also cost over £300, so the Pop is looking to give you style and substance for less than half the price.
Powered by Microsoft’s new multi-system health platform, the imaginatively titled Band is a feature packed fitness tracker and smartwatch hybrid that’s looking to take pride of place on your wrist. It features guided workouts, with extra presets downloadable, 24 hour heart rate tracking and GPS, essential for runners who want to get accurate results, plus the ever useful sleep tracking. Smartphone notifications, like email, texts and incoming calls, will also show up on the 1.4-inch display. Cortana, the virtual assistant first introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, is also along for the ride, so you can use your voice to set reminders and make calendar appointments.
£149 | Microsoft
Coming to the market as a cheaper option to one of our favourite fitness trackers, the Misfit Shine, the Flash ditches the classy metal looks of the Shine, replacing them with a sturdy and durable plastic body. It’s little chunkier, but thanks to the improved band it feels great on the wrist and it’ll withstand more wear and tear than its smarter brother. Looks aside, both bands from Misfit are practically the same. They work with the same iOS and Android app, track steps and sleep and, thanks to the replaceable battery, last for about 6 months without running out of juice. It’s a bargain too, coming in at under £50
A nice update to the original Garmin Vivofit, the Vivosmart takes things further with a curved OLED display that displays notifications from your phone. These alerts come with a subtle vibration and you swipe the display to get further info, it’s a nice blend of activity tracker and smartwatch. It’s waterproof, connects to the Garmin Connect app to sync your stats and it should last about a week without running out of juice.
The nifty feature of the Pulsense is its optical sensor, that monitors your blood pressure and lets the band track your steps and sleep. There’s also a smart alarm, waking you up at the optimum time, helping you feel better in the morning.
Archos Activity Tracker
French brand Archos likes to enter into as many product categories as possible, so it was only a matter of time before a smartband was on the list. Boasting a simple black look, a glanceable screen for checking the time and your current stats, the Archos Activity Tracker doesn’t look to do anything drastically different from other wearables on the market. It’ll track your sleep, steps, calories, features Bluetooth LE for beaming stats to the companion iOS and Android app and lasts for about a week on a charge.
Looking to offer a bit more than your average fitness tracker, the Sony SmartBand packs in a few smartwatch features too. It’ll gently vibrate when you receive a text or call, plus it works with the Sony LifeLog app to show you a detailed view of what you do in a day. This isn’t just limited to your steps, hours slept and calories burned, but also what music you listen to and what places you visit. It’s waterproof, has a smart alarm for waking you up at the right time and comes in variety of shades.
Misfit Shine Swarovski
One for the ladies. Misfit has taken its popular, considerably less vulgar looking Shine tracker and given it a complete Swarovski crystal makeover, unleashing a load of similarly styled bands to go with it. It’ll still connect to the Shine iOS and Android apps and will track your sleep, calories and steps. But not your fashion sense, thankfully.
$129 | Misfit
Sony SmartBand Talk
Another smartwatch and fitness tracker hybrid, Sony’s SmartBand Talk takes all the features from the brand’s SmartBand, like step counting, sleep tracking and pairs it with a curved display to give you a load of glanceable information on your wrist. It evens connects with your phone to receive notifications and you can use the in-built speakerphone to answer calls. It’s waterproof up to 1.5m and should last about three days on a charge.
A great pick if you’re a runner, as the Orbit pairs with the highly acclaimed Runtastic app on your smartphone. Once paired, the band will show your run stats straight from the app, letting you know how you can improve. It’s colourful and boasts all the regular fitness band features too.
Huawei B1 TalkBand
The B1's stand out feature is the removable 1.4-inch OLED display, which actually doubles as a Bluetooh headset so you don't look quite so silly making phone calls on your tablet. Similar to a smartwatch, it'll also display your notifications and buzz if you get an incoming call, but it's just as a capable as a fitness tracker, offering a pedometer, calorie counter and even handy alerts that warn you when you've been standing still too long, Sleep tracking is included too, with results being sent to the companion smartphone app for deeper perusal.
Price: £99 | Buy from Amazon now
Gold Nike FuelBand SE
Nike's Fuelband isn't as fully featured as some trackers - it won't monitor your sleep or follow you via GPS - but its simple Nikefuel system tallies all your activity into one score, encouraging you to do more every day. The latest Fuelband comes with a world cup-celebrating gold clasp to help you achieve your gooooooooooooooooooooooals...
Price: $149 | Buy from Amazon now
Jawbone Up 24
Sequel to the original UP, the 24 adds in our most requested feature – Bluetooth connectivity. Now there’s no need to plug the device into the headphone port, instead it just easily sends data to the app throughout the day. Other changes are less obvious, it keeps that instantly recognisable, durable and weather resistant design and you’ll get around seven days of battery life.
Price: £129 | Buy from Amazon now
Samsung Gear Fit
Weighing in at a mere 27g, the first thing you’ll notice about the Gear Fit is the screen. It’s all screen and it's one of the first times we've gazed upon a curved screen device where the curve actually helps the product, instead of just making it look pretty. Aside from this the band connects to your Samsung smartphone, giving you glancable info on your wrist and a quick way to access all of the S-Health features. And there's a heart rate monitor tucked away around the back too.
While Razer may be more known for its gaming kit, it's following the crowd by announcing a new fitness band, though this particular one has a few tricks up its sleeve. Along with the usual features like sleep tracking and step counting, the Nabu can also connect with your phone and keep you updated of your missed calls and texts - a bit like a smartwatch. Gestures are rife, and can be used to dismiss notifications and even to connect with another user. It'll work with both iOS and Android from the off, plus it'll come in at a wallet friendly price-tag.
Price: $100 (for developer kit) | Razer
LG Lifeband Touch
Boasting a design that’s not to dissimilar from Nike’s Fuelband, the Lifeband Touch packs a full colour OLED screen for showing all your daily stats and figures. Aside from the usual fitness features, such as measuring your steps, calories and the like, it can also act as a smartwatch, by notifying you of missed calls and emails. You should get five days worth of juice on a single charge, and it’ll withstand sweat and splashes.
Price: $179 | Buy from Amazon now
With a battery that’ll last over a year, the Vivofit sets itself apart from the crowd of bands that require weekly charging. Just strap it on and forget about it. It’s durable and water resistant, tracks your calories and sleep, while at the same time acting as a watch.
Price: £100 | Buy from Amazon now
We’re big fans of Jaybirds wireless earbuds (see them in our best headphones for running feature) so we’re really excited about its brand-new fitness band. Track your daily activity, how well you sleep at night and even be told when you need to exercise more. Design and build wise, this band is constructed out of soft, yet sturdy materials, so it fits snug and doesn’t fall off.
Price: TBA | Jaybird
Along with the original Nike Fuelband and the Jawbone UP, the Flex is one of the most recognisable and popular sport bands on the market. Its soft colour palette, slightly protruding lip and durable design, along the well designed app that connects via Bluetooth really make it a great buy. As with most of these products, it tracks your steps, distance travelled and can monitor your sleeping patterns.
£79.99 | Buy from Amazon now
A hit in the US, this penny-sized chunk of intelligent brushed aluminium is now available in the UK. Waterproof to 50m it’s ideal for tracking swims or particularly soggy jogs. Set daily goals and track progress with the free app. It weighs in at just 10g, can be worn in a host of ways and certainly looks a lot more stylish than most trackers on the market. It’s now also compatible with both Android and iOS
A personal coach attached to your wrist, available in bright colours and designed to make you a healthier person. Keep a track of sleep, steps and even get dedicated tips on how to increase your productivity. With one tap you can log your meals and it’ll work out your calorie stats. Sadly, the companion app is only available of iOS, which is a bit of a shame for people who use Android.
$150 | Larklife
Nike Fuelband SE
The next-generation SE has been updated to Bluetooth 4.0 for speedier syncing and concentrates more on teamwork. You can now earn your fuel points in groups, pooling them via the iPhone-only app. Don’t be the weak link, now…
£129.99 | Buy from Amazon now
Ditching the common band look and going for more akin to a classic digital watch, the killer feature is the analysis tech which helps you turn around some of the your bad habits. You can customise the experience; prefer to watch your sleep over your steps? No problem. Making up the internals of the B1 is a whole load of clever sensors, from a 3-axis accelerometer, a perspiration monitor and one for keeping a track of your heart rate. Connection with the app is simple, plus it looks great and displays all the info you need in an easy to read manner.$169 | My Basis
Technogym Mywellness Key
This fitness band monitors movement via an internal accelerometer and beams the data to the cloud. Kit your home gym out with Technogym’s treadmills, rowing machines and other kit, though, and it gets even smarter, recording the detailed info from them, too.
£120 | Technogym
At less than five centimetres long, the portable Pulse gives you a wide range of feedback on your daily activity – including distance travelled and calories burned – from the comfort of your pocket. Touch the device for a few seconds for your heart rate and swipe for 10 days worth of data. It syncs automatically to Android and Apple devices.
£90 | Buy from Amazon now
The cheapest device on our list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a look – especially if you’re not sure you want to go full force into the fitness tracker market. Even though it’s just the size of a button, the Orb can keep a track o your steps taken and calories burned for 14 days. It also doesn’t require charging, which is always a bonus.
£45 | Buy from Amazon now
Driven by the goals you set yourself, the Boost tracks all your activities including steps, distance and sleep to give you a comprehensive view of your daily activities. Bluetooth directly connect the band the companion app on your smartphone, so no need to plug it in to transfer your stats. A clever light based display keeps you up to date with goals, shining green when you’ve hit the target.
It may not be the sleekest band on our list, and the app isn’t overly well designed, but it’s still a good choice if you’re looking to save some cash.
$49.95 | Buy from Amazon now