What do you get when you combine a sophisticated pedometer with a minicomputer and a virtual coach? A fitness tracker. These high-tech gadgets have sensors that collect data about your body, such as heart rate, activity (steps taken, calories burned), sleep and other relevant information. This type of information allows you to make smart decisions, such as increasing the intensity of your workouts or motivating yourself to lose weight.

There are many options on the market. How do you decide?

Mix and match based on your goals

Every device is unique and has its own set of features. These features are worth looking out for: Step counter. Many devices will show you how many miles and how many steps you have taken. This feature is most useful if running or walking is your primary exercise. You should look for devices that measure the length of your feet or “cadence” to get the best information. Calories burned. Fitness devices can use your gender and weight to calculate how many calories you have burned in a given day. You burn more calories if you work out harder and move more throughout the day. Some devices only track calories burned during exercise. Some devices record all activity, such as washing dishes, folding laundry and sleeping. To get the best results, make sure you look for devices that ask about your gender and weight. Tracker for sleep Although they aren’t accurate enough to diagnose sleeping disorders they can give you an indication of how much sleep you have vs how much you turn. You can spot patterns with the built-in reporting.

getting enough sleep will help you lose weight. A lack of sleep can lead to a lower metabolism, and an increase in your appetite. Sleeping well may reduce your chances of obesity and type2 diabetes. A heart rate monitor. Want the best bang for your buck. You can monitor your heart rate and measure your exercise intensity right now. This information will allow you to know when it is time to rev up, slow down, and recover. Some devices can even detect your body temperature and sweat to determine how hard you are exercising. Ask your doctor if you have cardiac issues or are taking certain blood pressure medications. If so, he will be able to tell you if monitoring your heart rate while exercising is a good way of determining your exercise intensity.

Stair count. Some devices can count the number of steps or hills you have climbed. An altimeter is a great tool for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers. An altimeter gives you a better idea of your effort and the calories you have burned. GPS. Some devices have GPS built-in to calculate your speed. You can also see a map of the route. GPS is particularly useful for exercises that are not easily tracked by the accelerometers and pedometers found in fitness devices, such as biking. Water resistance. You can take a shower, but not to swim, with trackers. Some specialty devices, such as swimming watches are waterproof. You can count your strokes and time your laps. Some trackers also combine bike and swim tracking. These are ideal for triathletes.

Get Your Results

Use Sync technology. Want to stay up-to-date on the move? You should look for devices that can sync wirelessly. You will need to connect other devices to your smartphone’s jack or to your computer. Display on-device. Some devices provide data at the moment. You will need to sync your phone or computer with the display. This is not a problem for devices that have Bluetooth. However, if the data needs to be retrieved from the phone, this could make it difficult to monitor your workouts at the moment.

Compatibility and cost

You should also consider how your new fitness tracker shares and collects data. Size. The trackers are small enough to attach to your bra or waistband. You can even fit them in your pocket. Some can be worn as watches. You should like the design and it feels comfortable. Compatible with smartphones and computers. It is also worth checking if the device can sync with fitness and food tracking apps such as Lose It! Or My Fitness Pal.

Social.

Once you are connected, you can see each other’s steps via the app or web. This can be a motivator to get your activity up and running, especially if it’s competitive. All have privacy settings that allow your friends to only see the things you choose. Some fitness devices offer caller ID, text messaging, and email capabilities. Watch for hidden expenses. If you wish to view your data, some require a monthly subscription.