Best fitness trackers for 2021


A fitness tracker can be a great way to help you get — or stay — in shape without needing an all-out smartwatch. A fitness tracker holds you accountable for your physical activity with health and fitness features, such as sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, connected GPS and other insights into your daily activities. Your fitness tracking data is then shared with an app to give you a better view of your overall fitness.

There are dozens of fitness trackers to choose from — from the classic fitness-tracker watch design (including the much-loved Fitbit and Apple Watch) to shoe insoles with activity tracking features. 

We’ve rounded up five of our favorite trackers based on price, form and function. Many of them require you to use a mobile app to track your progress and set up phone notifications. Fitness tracking is definitely great for keeping you motivated, but keep in mind that not even the most advanced activity tracker will do the work for you. 

No matter your health and fitness goals, any one of the activity trackers here will help you achieve peak performance, so read on. And let us know in the comments if your favorite fitness tracker isn’t on this list. We’ll be testing more and updating this best activity tracker list periodically.

Read more: Best budget smartwatches under $100

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that behaves like a smartwatch without the extra bulk, the Fitbit Charge 4 might be the perfect fit. It checks all the boxes when it comes to health and fitness features and even goes beyond the activity tracker basics, with things like heart-rate zone notifications, an SpO2 sensor and advanced sleep tracking metrics. This Fitbit also has built-in GPS tracking to follow outdoor workouts independently of your phone. If you want to keep track of your data, you’ll want to download the Fitbit app, which does a great job breaking down your progress and how close you are to achieving your fitness goals. You can also use the Fitbit to make mobile payments and, if you’re on Android, reply to texts and other messages. 

Read our Fitbit Charge 4 review.

 

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

If you’re looking for a fitness band that’s discreet (and more affordable), you may consider the Fitbit Inspire 2. You won’t get the built-in GPS or mobile payment options, but it has health and fitness tracking essentials, including heart-rate monitoring, automatic workout detection and a detailed sleep tracker analysis with Fitbit Premium (free for a year with purchase). 

This fitness band is also the closest thing to jewelry that I’ve worn so far. If you feel like dressing it up, its silicone sports bands can easily be swapped out for a leather or stainless steel mesh band (sold separately). But the biggest perk: battery life. The Fitbit Inspire 2 activity tracker can go up to 10 days on a charge, whereas the Charge 4 battery life caps out at about five days if you toggle off the GPS.

Read our Fitbit Inspire 2 first take.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

For less than $40, the Mi Band 4 is the best value fitness tracker you can buy. This fitness tracking watch packs most of the features you’d get in a more expensive fitness tracker, like an AMOLED touchscreen that’s easy to see in sunlight, 24/7 heart rate and sleep tracking. Battery life is also second to none, as you’ll get around two and a half weeks of use before you need to charge. The one thing this cheap fitness tracker does miss out on is tracking workout variety; the fitness band can only detect running, walking, cycling or swimming, so any other workout like pilates or yoga would need to be tracked under the generic “exercise” type.

Read more about the Xiaomi Mi Band 4.

 

John Kim/CNET

These $300 smart insoles can turn any old running shoe into a high-tech tracker, giving you more fitness tracking information about your run than any wrist-based tracker we’ve ever tested. Each insole has 16 sensors that detect the pressure you’re putting on your foot with every step you take. Together with the app and trackers, they can measure everything from step length to foot strike balance to give you real-time feedback on how to reduce injury or improve your time.

Read our Nurvv Run Insoles review.

 

It may be a few years old, but the cheaper Apple Watch Series 3 has everything you need in a fitness tracker but with added smartwatch features. Not only does this Apple Watch keep tabs on your health and activity like the rest of the trackers on this list, this fitness watch also gives you access to dozens of fitness apps like Strava, Nike Training Club and Apple’s own Fitness Plus, to guide you through any type of workout.

Read our Apple Watch Series 3 review.

 

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