Whether you are into regular exercise or just starting out, you will agree that being able to track your progress and activity can really show you how to improve and probably motivate you even more. But, how to make the right choice and get the best exercise watch, out of so many available on the market?
Many people make the mistake to think one device can satisfy the needs of everyone. If you want a smart watch, you’ll have to consider its features and the type of exercising you’ll be performing. You might be surprised to discover a product that will satisfy your needs and that others possibly overlook.
This article will help you pinpoint the most common features to look for when shopping for an exercise watch. Plus, we’ve thrown in a couple of recommendations to help you get started. Let’s get right to it!
Note: We get commissions for purchases made through links in this article
Our Top Picks
|Product||Waterproof||Smart Calories||Step Counter||Price|
|Long Run Technologies Smart Band||Yes||Yes||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|EZON Sport Watch||Water resistant||No||No||Check price on Amazon|
|LESHP Activity Tracker||Yes||Yes||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch||Yes||Yes||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor||Yes||Yes||No||Check price on Amazon|
|Garmin vívosmart HR Activity Tracker||Yes||Yes||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Fitbit Charge 2 Wristband||Water resistant||Yes||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Polar M200 GPS Running Watch||Yes||Yes||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
This is where we discuss the various features and functions a good fitness watch should have. Remember though, that not all models will have them, and that is where your needs will come into play.
Most of the smart watches can be synced with a smartphone or a tablet, and more precisely with a fitness app. Most people use either an Android or an Apple device, and as a result most smart watches are designed to sync with those. Syncing with a Windows phone is more rare, and unless it is specified, you should always assume this is not possible with that model.
It is not mandatory to sync your smart watch to your phone, but there are cases in which you might need this feature. Some of these watches come set with the 24-hour system, and if you prefer the 12-hour system you might only be able to switch through syncing.
If you like to relax by swimming, you might not want to remove your watch. A waterproofed watch is something most people are searching for. Luckily many smart watches are designed for swimming as well.
If you want to go scuba diving, you will probably either have to leave the watch behind or get one that can be submerged at high depths. You should probably pay attention if the design is a just a water resistant one: you might be fine showering with it, but not swimming.
Some models might be described as waterproof up to 30 meters, but the manufacturer will strongly recommend not to swim with that product. It might be a good idea to listen to the indications, rather than to the description.
It is highly possible that the more things the watch can track the more expensive it will be. However, some people are really passionate about their workout sessions and try a variety of exercises. A watch recording all of them will offer them more control over their lifestyle.
Generally, people are interested in counting the steps they made in a day, the number of calories they burned, and to monitor their heart rate. Some models come with a chest strap to offer the best monitoring for your heart – something really useful for those with a heart condition.
Alerts and Notifications
Depending on your lifestyle, you might want to receive discreet alerts whenever you receive texts, emails, phone calls, even if you won’t be replying to all of them. Some models will connect to a few select apps, while others accept connection with most apps.
We should also mention that there are some models that will behave differently depending on which operating system they are connected to. This simply means that they will connect to more apps on an Android than on an Apple or Windows, for instance. This aspect should also be mentioned somewhere in the user’s manual.
Listening to music is one of the best ways to make your workout sessions more intense and enjoyable. There’s no better feeling than to zone out while listening to your favorite tunes while getting on with your fitness routine.
There are smart watches that allow you to listen to music while working out. If the description of the device doesn’t mention this feature, you’re safe to assume it doesn’t exist. This may not be the most important feature of a watch, but many users like to have it.
Those who run, hike, or go cycling might need a GPS to calculate the distance, but not all smart watches have it installed. Some models will use the GPS installed on the phone, but this means to make sure you have the phone on you as well. Fortunately, GPS functionality comes quite common with many exercises watches these days.
Hopefully now you know the functions that matter the most in a sports smart watch. We might have forgotten to mention a few features that would relate more to personal preferences than to how useful the item would be, so keep that in mind.
Best Products on Today’s Market
After you learned about some of the most required attributes of an exercise watch, you might want to see some actual products. We selected some of the most popular on the market, and you’ll see both lower and higher end gadgets to fit all wallets. The pros and cons of each will help you get a clearer impression of them.Long Run Technologies Smart Band
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Specific features: Heart rate and blood pressure monitoring, GPS
Best use: Cycling
If you need a low key smart watch that delivers, the Long Run Technologies Smart Band is a good option. The watch will measure your heart rate but not only, and thus it is suitable for fitness fans. The device has a blood pressure monitor, calories burned and distance traveled features. You can keep connected at any time as you will receive texts and incoming calls on the spot.
The watch feature a sleep monitor as well as a silent alarm that helps you maintain healthier sleeping habits. This device is lightweight and can be worn at any time no matter where you go. The Bluetooth 4.0 will connect to your phone or download data when needed, without any complications. The device also provides the option to receive alerts from various apps.
Keep in mind that this smart watch does not work with any Windows phone or tablet. This watch is stylish enough for a jogging session but also a night out.
- You can swim with it on
- Accurate heart rate monitoring
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Blood pressure measurement is not accurate
- Not compatible with Windows smart devices
Related: If you like listening to music while exercising outside, we recommend the Long Run Technologies True Wireless Earbud, from the same company. This is the smallest stereo Bluetooth headset featuring an advanced audio technology.
EZON Digital Sport Watch
Weight: 1.4 ounces
Specific features: Countdown timer, stopwatch, calendar, alarms, waterproof
Best use: Sports, workouts
The EZON Digital Sport Watch is a multifunctional device that will make your day easier. The watch is equipped with a calendar, countdown timer, as well as 2 silent alarms. You can also wear it on rainy days as it is waterproof.
The devices includes a stopwatch feature and a 10 lap function. If you want to see the hour in a dark environment this device makes it easy as it features a back light. The screen stays on for a few seconds, and this could be an inconvenience for some users.
Maybe you are wondering about battery life so you should know the sport device offers an 18 month life span in standby mode. The watch is a great option for sport fans as it measures blood rate as well as calorie count.
You will be able to see your progress while exercising and thus manage your routine easier. This device is professional but looks stylish and adds no bulk to your wrist.
- 12/24 hour formats
- Big, easy to read face
- Not for swimming
- Not a smart watch
Related: If you are into running or other cardio activities, you may find useful the Wave Compression Socks, which are anti-bacterial, help increase the blood circulation, and promote faster muscle recovery.
LESHP Activity Tracker
Weight: 0.95 ounces
Specific features: Compatible with Android and iOS, app alerts, GPS, sleep monitor
Best use: Basic activity tracking
The LESHP Activity Tracker can be connected to both iOS and Android smartphones, but the operations are limited for the former. If you want to be reminded about your activity, you must sync this device with Android but beware it won’t work with Apple for this function.
Some users noted that the sleep tracking of this watch is not as good as expected, though some people don’t even bother to track their sleep. Furthermore, if you want to listen to music while working out, you’ll need a separate player and this device doesn’t play it. Perhaps to make up for these missing feature, it has camera control through Bluetooth V4.0.
Having mentioned the Bluetooth, its signal is not that strong to sync with your phone from across the swimming pool, for instance.
You can receive alerts for the texts, calls and activity on your various social media accounts, therefore you won’t have to constantly look at your phone. There are 2 languages in which you can operate this device: English and Chinese.
- Bluetooth camera control
- Not fully compatible with iOS
Related: If the iOS compatibility is an issue for you, then have a look at the DENISY Fitness Tracker. This health bracelet is compatible with more than 200 smart handheld devices, including older models like the iPhone 4.
Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch
Weight: 1.4 ounces
Specific features: Multi-sport tracking, simplified heart rate zones, sleep monitoring
Best use: Cardio, biking, cross-training
Not everyone can take their training sessions to the next level, but you might if you consider getting the Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch. This device will track not only your daily activity but sleeping patterns as well. It has modes created for several types of sports and the PurePulse technology to give an accurate heart rate reading.
Many users like it because it is lightweight and the possibility of easily changing its appearance that is not limited only to the band. You can also change the color of the frame, clock faces, and interface thanks to its high resolution touchscreen.
A downside is that it doesn’t have integrated GPS, but you need to connect to it. You can also connect the watch to your phone to receive a multitude of alerts that might be important for you. If you need some guidance for your workout routines, try out the FitStar – an application that will help you correctly perform the exercises and make the most of them.
If you are using an iOS device, you’ll find quite a resemblance in interface between this watch and the Apple product.
- Receives alerts from various smartphone apps
- Many ways to personalize it
- Must connect to GPS
Related: If you’re making sure the battery of this device is charged, you will not be able to use it. Get the Fitbit Blaze Charging Station to make sure you can always charge your watch if needed. This is a stylish looking charge dock for the 2016 Fitbit Blaze watch.
Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor
Weight: 4 ounces
Specific features: Interface in 8 languages, smart workout adviser, Energy Pointer feature
Best use: Weight loss, heart monitor
People have different reasons to want to work out. No matter which one is yours, the Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor will tell you if you’re on the right track or not by telling you if you’re losing weight or staying fit. What’s more, it will also warn you through sounds and light if you need to slow down or pick up the pace, based on the type of workout you’re currently at.
If your workout routine includes swimming, don’t leave your heart rate monitor behind because you can definitely swim with it. If you want to see your evolution with your routine, this device will keep track of your past 99 sessions. Depending on how often you work out, you could see your progress for at least the past 3 months.
Not many products have a piece that will go over your chest like this one has. Using the chest strap will ensure your heart rate measurements will be as accurate as possible, and might make the device useful for those who need to monitor their heart for other health issues.
Some users found the face and buttons to be too small for them, so perhaps consider getting another product if you have bulky hands and fingers. Another letdown for some, is that they can’t keep track of how many steps they took.
- Comes with chest strap
- Accurate heart rate monitor
- Memory for past 99 training sessions
- Small screen and buttons
- Doesn’t count steps
Related: With this product we recommend the QGHXO Band For Polar FT4/FT7, silicone replacement bands, available in 7 different colors.
Garmin vívosmart HR Activity Tracker
Weight: 1.12 ounces
Specific features: Climbed floors tracker, 7 timed activities
Best use: Swimming, activity tracking
Compared to other choices we have in store for you, the Garmin vívosmart HR Activity Tracker is one of the more decently priced ones. Just like many other models, this one also syncs with your smartphone. As a result you can receive alerts for the texts, emails, calls, social media and calendar – make sure to select the ones you care about the most as not to always be disturbed.
What’s more, you can control your music as well, making it easier to change or stop a song from playing. If you’re one of the people who have a more difficult time with keeping up with their workout sessions, this device will remind you about it. You can even sync it to most fitness apps available for your smartphone.
If you want to track your sleeping time, you’ll have to do that yourself, manually as this watch doesn’t have a function for it. Swimming with the Vivosmart HR will not pose issues, however diving will ruin it. What its users like the most is that it stays on at all times, unlike other similar products.
- Receives alerts from various applications
- Works with most fitness apps
- Syncs with Android, iOS, and Windows phones
- No real sleep tracking
- Not appropriate for underwater activities
Related: One big issue people have with their battery powered devices is that they can run out of battery at any time. Consider getting an extra Garmin Vivosmart HR Charging Cable for your Vivosmart HD watch that is more than 3 feet long.
Fitbit Charge 2 Wristband
Weight: 1.1 ounces
Specific features: Guided breathing sessions, sleep tracking,
Best use: Multi-sport tracking, heart rate monitoring
If you’re one of the people who prefer a more simple looking device, you can check out the Fitbit Charge 2 Wristband. Some users with smaller wrists might fear this device looks bulky on them, however they simply have nothing to worry about: the watch is rather discreet. It also comes in two sizes – small and large, giving you the option to get a gadget better fit for your wrists.
What will make it stand out is the color of the band if you get on teal. Speaking of the band, you can easily have it replaced with any other color, to better fit the occasion or your style.
Many users dislike or can’t really carry their smartphones in their pockets. Connecting this wristband to your phone, you can discretely learn when you receive phone calls, text messages or calendar alerts. Even Windows phones users can benefit from this feature!
What some of its users didn’t like about this device is that it needs to be either tapped or a certain motion to turn on and show the hour. It is also recommended for medical personnel not to rely on it to check the heartbeat of their patients but use instead old fashioned methods and tools.
You should know that its manufacturer recommends cleaning it every now and then, as well as wearing it a bit loose or higher on the forearm, not on the wrist bone. Cleaning is rather easy with some water and a bit or rubbing alcohol.
- Comes in two sizes
- Receives alerts for calls, texts and appointments
- Easy to clean
- Not reliable for measuring the heart’s rate
- Must do some hand motion to turn it on
Related: One of the replacement wrist bands you can get is the Bayite Replacement Bracelet Strap which is made of stainless steel. You’ll have a timeless yet futuristic looking smart watch. It comes in several colors and has a magnetic snap closure.
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch
Weight: 5.1 ounces
Specific features: Optical heart rate, GPS, activity monitoring
Best use: Running, activity monitoring
Not everyone trains the same and the Polar M200 GPS Running Watch is designed for those who like to work out through running. The built-in GPS makes it easier to keep track of where you are, and how to return to where you were – a feature many people like to have.
If you want to play music while you run, you need to carry a music player on you as well, as this smart watch doesn’t have this function. If you get easily bored of the appearance of your items, you don’t always need to change them: just get a band in a different color for this watch!
It is important to monitor your heart-rate when you run, and this device has one build in its bracelet – how convenient is that? What’s more is that you can sync this smart watch with your smartphone through a free app. Just make sure you have an Apple or an Android device, as other operating systems are not yet compatible.
If you like swimming, you can do so without having to remove this watch, isn’t this convenient? You can also easily track your activity 24 hours a day, every day. Should you skip a day, don’t be surprised if you receive inactivity alerts.
One important part of our health is played by our sleep. Use the sleep tracking function to see how much sleep you get as well as its quality. You’ll soon realize why you feel tired at all times.
Some users were not impressed by the inability to set alarms or by the time it takes the operating system to update – something that cannot be skipped. They were unable to use the watch during the update.
- Can change the bracelet
- Free app to sync with your smartphone
- Inactivity alert
- Doesn’t play music
- Can’t be used during OS update
Related: Since we mentioned you can change the wristband of this watch, make sure you get the Polar M200 Wrist Strap. You have at least 5 colors to choose from to give your watch a new face every once in awhile.
This is where our presentation ends. It is our wish you learned more about the modern watched designed to help in your working out routines. Hopefully you now know what to check before buying so the item will best suit your needs.
If you plan on starting a workout routine, a smart watch can be really helpful, but only if it is designed to do the tasks you’re interested in the most. If you need to be really careful with some movements and not get too tired, a poorly chosen device will only hinder your progress.
So what do you think about the products we presented above? Were you familiar with any or do you think we should have presented others? Share your opinions with us and the rest of the community in the comments section below!