These Are the 5 Best Fitness Trackers for Your Money

by Ashley Marcin on 19 May 2014 0 comments

We live in an amazing age where advancing technology has the ability to transform our lives. Even small things, like timing and tracking workouts, have significantly changed in my short adult life.

There are now GPS watches that can plot walking and running routes, pace, and heart rate — all while providing a barometer, compass, altimeter, weather alerts, and even more fancy functions.

Of course, there's a catch. Technology comes at a premium, and this ultimate sports watch can set you back up to $500 and more. Unless you're planning a long excursion into the wilds, it's in your best interest to wade through the ancillary stuff to get the best deal on the tracker that works for your specific lifestyle and fitness interests.

Here are five cost-savvy options for a variety of activities.

1. Basic Fitness Watch

If all you want is a digital stopwatch and something to give you the time, I highly recommend the classic Timex Ironman line of watches. In fact, I only recently switched from using this watch exclusively for my training over the last decade. This great unisex design comes in at less than $30, and it features a night light, 100-hour chronograph with lap and split times, 99-lap counter, 100-hour countdown timer with stop and repeat, 30-lap memory recall, and water resistance to 100 meters. What else do you need?

2. Pedometer

There are lots of new activity trackers on the market intended to help you get to 10,000 steps a day and beyond. From my research, it seems like the best value might not be a watch at all, but instead the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker, which clips onto your pocket for all day use. This gadget is less than $50, but it still syncs your data wirelessly and features the same mobile app and dashboard that users of the more expensive devices enjoy.

3. GPS Watch

My husband has one of those over-the-top running GPS watches. He does a lot of technical workouts that utilize all sorts of bells and whistles. I, on the other hand, just look for something to track my distance and pace. At his suggestion, I opted for the Garmin Forerunner 10, an attractive GPS watch you can get for under $130. It gives me all the simplified functions I'm looking for so I'm not wasting all those expensive features.

4. Triathlon Buddy

Sometimes saving big on watches just means loving last year's model. Whereas the new Garmin Forerunner 910XT may set you back nearly $450, the slightly older Garmin Forerunner 310XT boasts similar features, but comes in under $190. It tracks your running strides and transitions easily to bike-mounting for the ride. Best yet? This watch is waterproof to a depth of 50 meters when it comes time to swim. Though there are a few differences, both watches share an impressive 20-hour battery life as well.

5. Smartphone Apps

You can also download a variety of apps that enable you to use your smartphone as a GPS device. As you can imagine, there are many, so I'll just toss out Garmin Fit, WalkJogRun (even offers a new pace coaching feature!), and Run Keeper. I've provided their links to the iTunes store, but many apps are also available for Android devices. If you don't mind exercising with your phone (which is actually a smart safety measure), this might be the cheapest option yet. Note, however, that data charges may apply if you don't have unlimited data in your current cell plan.

Do you use any fitness gadgets? Which one(s)? Please share in comments!

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