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The Best Fitness Trackers for All Types of Activities

Photo-Illustration: Fitbit

In this article

No matter how you stay active — be it through walking, running, biking, weightlifting, or swimming — tracking all that information has never been easier thanks to advancements in fitness technology over the past few years. Gone are the days of simple step counting. Now you can wear a screenless strap that prioritizes measuring recovery over real-time workout feedback or a ring that gives detailed sleep notes. If you’re looking for a way to measure all of your progress, a fitness tracker or a smartwatch can give you important information on how hard you’re working and how far you’ve come.

There are lots of options out there, though, so we asked fitness professionals — from Pilates instructors to marathon swimmers — about their favorite trackers, and we dug through our health and fitness archives to find the devices we’ve tested ourselves. If you have an idea of what kind of data you’re looking to track (such as distance and speed for running or REM cycles for sleep), check our table of contents of activity types to the left. Otherwise, read on for our breakdown of the best fitness trackers.

What we’re looking for

Notable features

Most of these fitness trackers have the basics, such as the ability to measure steps and heart rate, so we’ll call out the notable features that make each device stand out from the rest of the lineup. We’re looking for features like touchscreens, water resistance, GPS, and how it’s worn (or not) on the body.

Battery life

A good fitness tracker shouldn’t lose all its juice mid-run or mid-workout. We’re paying attention to how much battery life each device has on a single full charge.


The fitness trackers in this list often display more details about your workout or activity in a separate app. We’ve listed what each device pairs with — such as an app, phone, or other device.

Best overall fitness tracker

Apple Watch Series 8

Notable features: Touchscreen, GPS (with phone nearby; built-in cellular available at extra cost), 50-meter water resistance, blood-oxygen sensor, compatible with ECG app | Battery life: 36 hours (on low-power mode) | Connectivity: Syncs with larger Apple ecosystem (Siri, Apple Health, Apple Fitness+, Apple Pay, etc.)

Ubiquitous for a reason, the Apple Watch comes recommended by athletes across multiple disciplines, and it’s likely your best bet if you plan on doing a mix of different activities. Lucy Kapell and Joe Kaufman, competitive swimmers with the Westchester Masters Swimming Association, rely on the watch for tracking their laps both in the pool and outside. “It calculates lap swims accurately, and the settings can be easily adjusted for the length of the pool,” says Kapell. Since it measures heart rate and calories burned, it’s also useful for workouts where you don’t need to carefully track metrics like speed or distance. Glo yoga instructor Gustavo Padron, fitness instructor and sports physical therapist Leada Malek, and Equinox group-fitness instructor Amanda Katz use the watch’s heart-rate function to measure the intensity of their workouts. Padron says, “Paying attention to my heart rate can help me decide if I need a chill or more intense class.”

Strategist tech writer Jordan McMahon, who uses his Apple Watch mainly for weight training and cycling, says it was a crucial part of his recovery from a car-accident-related back surgery. “I had to retrain my body to handle long-distance walks, and I never had to remember to start tracking my distance because the watch automatically recognizes when you’re on a walk (at about 20 minutes in) and will ask you if you want to track it,” he says. “Having the ability to not just access all that information but to track and manage it with minimal effort made that recovery process less of a chore and more of a journey.”

Other users, including Fit Careerist founder Corrie Alexander and Bliss From Balance fitness blogger Michelle like how the watch syncs with other iPhone workout apps for following along with specific workouts. For example, Michelle says Peloton addicts will appreciate how the watch links to the Peloton app for feedback during classes. No matter what type of exercise they’re doing, fitness pros agree that the Apple Watch keeps their workout progress on track. As Katelyn DiGiorgio, vice-president of training and technique at Pure Barre, says, “The activity rings on the Apple Watch have kept me more engaged than other fitness trackers I’ve used. I love the visual of closing a circle on each of the three simple activity-ring tracks — standing, moving, and exercise — each day. It becomes addicting.” Anthony Guidarelli, CTO of CityRow, and Meredith Simmons, a Mindbody Pilates instructor, agree that meeting goals on their Apple Watches keeps them accountable.

Best less-expensive fitness tracker

Fitbit Versa 4

Notable features: Touchscreen, built-in GPS, built-in Alexa, 50-meter water resistance, Google Maps, Google Wallet, blood-oxygen tracking | Battery life: 6 days | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Fitbit Premium

Like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Versa syncs with your phone and can support other apps including Amazon Alexa. Corey Lewis, personal trainer and co-founder of the digital wellness platform 1AND1 Life, wears his Versa for a range of activities including hiking, yoga, bike riding, and weightlifting. He likes how the Fitbit community — much like Peloton’s, in which users can post achievements and network with other members — motivates him to train harder. Fitbit provides a leaderboard with challenges, awards, and the ability to set personal goals. Personal trainer Sean Alexander, founder of Simple Approach, uses his Versa for lifting weights, swimming, tennis, and hot yoga. “One of my personal favorite features is the built-in HIIT timer that allows me to preset intervals for ‘resting’ and ‘working’ times before my workout, and then it will automatically start a timer for my active and rest moments at the push of a button,” he says. It’s much cheaper than an Apple Watch, so it’s a good one to try if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of fitness trackers.

Best fitness tracker for a variety of activities


Notable features: Touchscreen, built-in GPS, 50-meter water resistance, blood oxygen tracking | Battery life: Up to 7 days | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Garmin app

With modes for tracking elliptical workouts, rowing, daily steps, and more, the Garmin Vivoactive is another worthy contender for an all-around fitness tracker. The highlight is its ability to track more than 20 different types of activities. Shannon Curran, a Westchester Masters swimmer, uses it for running, walking, and pool swimming. “It has GPS — good for walking and running — and it will map your walk via the Garmin App,” she says. “I particularly like that it follows the number of laps that I’ve swum in real time so if I lose count during a longer set, I can check my watch.”

It can also track more unusual sports like in-line skating. Mike Grebinsky, an instructor with Empire Skate Club, says the watch’s cycling mode works well for tracking speed and distance while skating. He likes the extra-long battery life and how he can lock the screen so it displays just the metrics he needs. “When I skate, I have to pay a lot of attention to the roadway, so I don’t have much time to look at my watch,” he says. It’s also this writer’s personal pick for tracking everything from running to sleep, and Peter Reynolds, who runs the cycling style blog the Discerning Cyclist, calls the Vivoactive “a stylish everyday watch with good tracking” and “really strong battery life.”

Best fitness tracker for long-distance and trail running

Notable features: Touchscreen, GPS tracking, 100-meter water resistance | Battery life: Up to 30 days (46-mm. version), up to 24 days (42-mm. version) | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Coros app

This is the fitness tracker you want if you don’t want to worry about battery life. Magdalena Boulet, president of GU Energy Labs, Hoka One One running-team member, and winner of several 100-mile trail races, needs a tracker with a battery life that can stand up to her intense training schedule. While she’s tried other brands, nothing has come close to the long-lasting Coros Apex watch. “I love being able to wear it all day and charge it about once a week despite putting miles on the trails or bike-commuting to work daily,” she says. “It even charges really quickly.” Besides the battery life, she’s impressed by the Apex’s accuracy and how quickly its GPS picks up a satellite signal. It also tracks swimming and cycling.

I’ve used the Coros Apex for the past three years, and the main feature I love is its simplicity. Unlike other trackers and smartwatches with over four button options (which often make them bulkier), the Apex has two: a dial you can turn and push and a button below it. This design makes setting interval workouts and tracking sets in HIIT sessions a breeze.

Best fitness tracker for recovery

Notable features: Fabric band, sleep tracker, no screen display, membership required, 1.5-meter water resistance, no GPS | Battery life: 5 days | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Whoop app

To gauge how well they’ve recovered from workouts, lots of top athletes (including professional basketball player Sue Bird and Citius Mag founder Chris Chavez) use the Whoop strap which measures stress, rest, and sleep. It’s also a good choice for weekend warriors looking to maximize their fitness. Rex Chatterjee, creative director of the digital-media firm Dune Road Lifestyle and a former competitive bodybuilder, says Whoop gives him a holistic view of his body’s current state, and Rachel Lapidos, senior lifestyle-and-beauty editor at Bustle, likes how, compared to a tracker that only measures steps or distance, Whoop provides more personalized feedback on her workouts. Whoop calculates a recovery score, which is a combination of metrics measured by the strap sensor (heart-rate variability, resting heart rate, sleep performance, and respiratory rate). Whoop says the higher your recovery score, the more prepared your body is for physical activity. “With the recovery score, I feel like I’m doing my body more of a favor since I know that if my score is low, I should take it easy rather than push myself, and vice versa,” she says.

Anthony Chavez, a master trainer at CorePower Yoga, is also a Whoop fan, and like Chatterjee, he appreciates the focus on overall health and behavior. “I’ve even begun to notice trends in the metrics based on how hydrated I am or how a glass (or two) of wine will affect my sleep and overall recovery the next day,” he says. Andrea Fornarola, founder of the barre and dance-fusion studio Elements Fitness, calls the Whoop her “newest obsession,” and Nathan Forster, CEO and founder of the on-demand workout platform NEOU, says it’s his tracker of choice. Swerve instructor-operations director Jenna Arndt and SoulCycle master instructor Maddy Ciccone mention Whoop’s “strain coach,” which, as Arndt explains, guides you “how hard to push based on your recovery level.” Since Whoop strap doesn’t have a display (you’ll have to view all your data on the app), it’s better for evaluating and planning your workouts rather than getting real-time feedback. And the strap doesn’t come with GPS, so you can’t track distance on a run by wearing the strap alone. You can, however, use the Whoop app on your phone during a distance activity and use GPS tracking for your workout that way.

Best fitness tracker for sleep

Oura Ring
From $349
From $349

Notable features: Titanium ring, sleep tracker, no display, membership required, 100-meter water resistance | Battery life: Up to 7 days | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Oura app

When Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw reviewed the Oura ring in 2020, the health experts he spoke with hailed its ability to track health and fitness data in a subtle, unobtrusive design. Since then, other smart rings have entered the health and fitness space, but none have made as big a splash as Oura. Artist Santigold calls her Oura ring a game changer for its sleep feedback, which is extremely detailed. It will log the hours and minutes you spent in deep sleep, light sleep, REM cycles, and how much you got up and moved around at night, displaying it all in a chart in the Oura app. The Oura ring also comes recommended by LeAnn Rimes, who likes the ring’s “readiness score” feature, which is like a human battery-percentage indicator, according to Cheslaw. Oura, like Whoop, uses a combination of metrics to calculate that readiness score: your body temperature, your sleep data from the previous night, your lowest overnight resting heart rate, and any physical activity from the previous day. Professional runner Mary Cain uses an Oura ring (in addition to her Garmin Forerunner) to help monitor her rest between workouts. “It’s easy to forget how going on a walk with the dog while on a phone call and carrying groceries is still stressful even if it doesn’t come up on my Garmin as a long run,” she says. “It helps me be nicer to myself because I believe the data.”

Best fitness tracker for swimming

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Notable features: Touchscreen, GPS tracking, 50-meter water resistance | Battery life: Up to 11 days | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Garmin app

Several swimmers mentioned that they love the Garmin 735XT, a slightly more affordable version of the Forerunner 945. “It’s accurate counting my laps in any distance pool,” says Janine Serrell of the New York Open Water swim club. “I also use it in the open water — it’s accurate for distance and speed and it’s fun to see the maps of where you swim.” Westchester Masters swimmer Serafina Sumargo likes how “it tells me in real time how many laps I’ve gone” and that it syncs up with the Garmin Connect and apps for logging workouts. It’s also a favorite of accomplished marathon swimmer and New York Open Water member Abby Fairman.

Best non-wrist-wearable fitness tracker for swimming

Form Smart Swim Goggles

Notable features: Goggles, 10-meter water resistance | Battery life: 16 hours | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Form app

If you don’t want to keep looking at your wrist while swimming, Westchester Masters member Andy Feldman recommends these smart goggles. “The heads-up display is great for feedback while you’re swimming,” he says. “They track total distance, lap splits, stroke count, and average speed, and they seem to accurately distinguish one stroke type from another.” The goggles link up to a smartphone app that syncs to other popular tracking apps such as Training Peaks and Strava.

Best fitness tracker for triathlons


Notable features: Touchscreen, GPS tracking, 50-meter water resistance | Battery life: Up to 11 days | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Garmin app

The Forerunner 945 GPS is built specifically for endurance-minded multisport athletes who want to track activities across long distances, such as a triathlon, with GPS data. Paul Johnson, founder of Complete Tri, says, “It tracks everything you can imagine and looks stylish enough to wear when dressed up, too.” Billy Ferguson, founder and CEO of Trivelo, calls it the “daddy of triathlon watches and a masterclass in multisport smartwatch technology,” adding that the current iteration is lighter and thinner than any previous edition. It’s also the GPS watch that pro runner Mary Cain uses to log her workouts as well as her non-running activities like swims or bike rides.

Best fitness tracker for cycling

Notable features: Touchscreen display, GPS | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Connectivity: iOS and Android compatible, Garmin app

Since handlebar-mounted bike computers are easy to see while riding a bike and track tons of cycling-specific metrics, cyclists tend to prefer them over watch-style activity trackers, says Neile Weissman of the New York Cycle Club. Weissman and the club’s treasurer, Bob Gilbert, agree that Garmin’s computers are among the most popular because of their range of functions, large screens, and frequent firmware updates. Besides tracking speed, time, distance, and altitude, this model gives you turn-by-turn navigation on a preselected route and even has an alarm you can set to prevent your bike from getting stolen. When paired with a heart-rate monitor (on your wrist or around your chest), it’ll give you feedback on VO2 max and recovery.

Our experts

Sean Alexander, founder of Simple Approach 
• Rex Chatterjee, creative director of Dune Road Lifestyle and former competitive bodybuilder
• Anthony Chavez, master trainer at CorePower Yoga
• Katelyn DiGiorgio, vice-president of training and technique at Pure Barre
• Billy Ferguson, founder and CEO of Trivelo
• Andrea Fornarola, founder of barre and dance-fusion studio Elements Fitness
• Nathan Forster, CEO and founder of on-demand workout platform NEOU
• Mike Grebinsky, instructor with Empire Skate Club
• Paul Johnson, founder of Complete Tri
Amanda Katz, Equinox group-fitness instructor
• Rachel Lapidos, senior lifestyle-and-beauty editor at Bustle
• Corey Lewis, personal trainer and co-founder of the digital wellness platform 1AND1 Life
Leada Malek, fitness instructor and sports physical therapist
Jordan McMahon, Strategist technology writer
• Gustavo Padron, yoga instructor with on-demand workout platform Glo
• Peter Reynolds, co-founder and editor of cycling style blog the Discerning Cyclist
• Janine Serrell, New York Open Water swim-club member
• Neile Weissman, New York Cycle Club member
• Westchester Masters Swimming Association members Shannon Curran, Andy Feldman, Lucy Kapell, Joe Kaufman, and Serafina Sumargo

With additional reporting by Karen Iorio Adelson.

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The Best Fitness Trackers for All Types of Activities