The Best Fitness Trackers for Moms
There are so many different fitness trackers out there. (Trust me, I've tried most of them.) Here's the scoop on which ones are the best for the mom lifestyle.
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What are the best fitness trackers?
This is truly a question for the ages.
There are a preposterous number of fitness trackers out there, and the number is growing each and every day. Trust me, I'm an absolute fitness tracker addict, and it seems like every time I get one I absolutely adore, another one comes on the market with an extra feature I just can't help but drool over.
The answer to "what is the best fitness tracker" is really the one with the features that fit your life the best.
Many fitness trackers have crazy cool features, but I will never in a million years need them, so I don't necessarily want to pay the big bucks for them.
That's why this post is called the best fitness trackers for moms. Moms have a unique set of expectations for their gadgets. Mainly that they are able to withstand the same ridiculous conditions that moms do. It needs to have an extremely long battery life (just like we do), be bubble bath and dishwater resistant, and be able to withstand the shock of a thousand thrown tonka trucks.
Basically, moms need a fitness tracker as multifunctional and sturdy as we are.
Which fitness trackers are the most accurate?
There is a debate on which fitness trackers measure your stats the most accurately.
Most of the trackers you get are going to measure the same basic range of things: steps, distance, heart rate, altitude/flights climbed, and calories burned.
The problem is that not all trackers are going to be equally accurate when it comes to measurement. I remember being absolutely heartbroken back in the day when I got my first fitness tracker (those awful Nike things you had to literally put in the sole of your shoe) and I realized that the distance was calculated based on an "average" person's step length and that if you wanted it "personalized" you had to run exactly a mile on a track to give it a baseline. Yikes. Thank goodness we've evolved!
Still, there's some variation between trackers. Some might calculate your calories burned by your steps and weight (less accurate) than others which calculate calories burned using your heart rate (more accurate). Some might do distance by your steps, others use GPS.
People have actually done experiments where they wore multiple trackers and compared results. I can only vouch for the accuracy of Fitbits, because I've been wearing various Fitbit trackers for the last few years. I find them to be mostly accurate for low and medium levels of exertion, but slightly underestimate my heart rate when I'm doing crazy high-intensity exercise.
There is no "official" answer to which one is the best, it's conventional wisdom that as long as they're accurate "enough" (within a couple steps, a couple of BPM for heart rate, etc.) they'll be accurate enough to help you with your fitness goals. After all, chances are you're trying to lose that last 5 pounds of baby weight, not timing splints for an Olympic decathlon.
Overall, I found that once a tracker reaches a point of minimum competence (for me that means stuff like at least having heart rate tracking to make the calorie count something that's actually measured, not just calculated from your height/weight) it's more important that your tracker measures the type of things you need than that it does it with 100% accuracy.
What do moms need in a fitness tracker?
So here's where we get to the good stuff.
Most moms want to increase their stamina (basically I don't want to pant audibly when I have to walk up the stairs while talking on the phone) and lose weight/fat. These goals dictate the features that are most important for a fitness tracker for moms:
- Calories Burned: As we discussed earlier, this can be either calculated based on your height/weight/activity level (the less accurate way) or using heart rate tracking (the more accurate way). Basically, you have to burn (or not eat) 3,500 calories to lose one theoretical pound. This means that if you burn 500 calories more than you eat every day, you should lose a pound each week. Obviously, weight loss is more complex than this, but because the basic gist is always calories in versus calories out, this is an important piece of information for your tracker to give you.
- Heart Rate: Because it helps with the accurate calculation of calories burned, I wouldn't ever consider a fitness tracker that didn't have a heart rate sensor. You used to have to wear an awkward chest strap to get this, but now you can get a decently accurate heart rate measurement from just a wristwatch.
- Steps: I don't know when this turned into a "thing", but getting your 10,000 steps a day is now a "thing". I personally find this to be a fairly arbitrary number, but you'll hear a lot about it if you...well, talk to people or go on the internet. Whether or not you care, you'll probably find a step counter on most fitness trackers you buy.
- Distance: As an avid plodder...I mean runner...this is one of the metrics I care most about. Something about looking down and seeing that I technically walked 8 miles even though I never actually left the house makes me feel happy about myself. Also, if you do go for a run or walk, this is a darned handy stat to have.
- Waterproof: This one is just a lifestyle consideration. I can't keep anything dry. I have a toddler and two crazy dogs. I shower nineteen billion times a day and wash my hands even more. If I had to be extra careful not to get an expensive fitness tracker wet it would completely keep me from wearing it. I love having something I can wear in the pool, shower, dishwater, or wherever without worrying that I'm going to break my shiny new toy.
So, without further ado, I'll go through my personal favorites. I personally have owned/tried (or my hubby has) each one of the trackers on this list, so I've lived the pros and cons first hand.
This one I have tried but not owned. Don't get me wrong, it's not because I don't want it, it's because I'm pretty sure hubby would disown me if I got another fitness tracker.
I covet this one with all my fitness-obsessed heart.
I had the previous generation of Fitbit Charge and it was absolutely the best. The only problem I had with the Charge 2 was that it looked absolutely massive on me. I'm a little sensitive about my wrists being chubby (they aren't objectively fat, I'm just a nutjob) so I really don't like huge timepieces.
The size was literally my only complaint about the Charge 2, so the smaller, sleeker Charge 3 is literally the top of my wish list. It also comes in other colors (cough...rose gold...cough), which makes it even more awesome.
- Interchangeable bands
- Wireless syncing with the Fitbit app
- All-day heart rate sensor, calorie counting, sleep tracking, and exercise recognition
- Daintier, but has all the functions
- 7-day battery life
- Smartphone notifications and GPS (when connected to your phone)
- Waterproof (literally swimproof, actually)
- Customizable clock faces (it's like getting a whole new watch!)
- I don't have one yet
I'm one of those freaky Android people, so I couldn't have an Apple watch even if I wanted one, but both hubby and my stepdaughter (don't ask) have them, so I'm well versed in the joys of Apple watchery.
This one checks off all the main boxes, but is on the pricier side. However, if you're fostering the same kind of Apple product addiction we seem have in our family, it is a great choice.
- Interchangeable bands and different colors
- Crazy functionality (seriously...so many apps...all the apps...)
- Plays well with other Apple/Mac devices
- Heartrate Sensor
- Incredibly classy
- Only useable if you have an iPhone
- On the more expensive side
This is the fitness tracker I'm currently using. I love all things Fitbit and this one is head and shoulders above any other version I've used.
I'm especially fond of all the different watch faces you can download (through the Fitbit app). They have different colors, configurations, and "vibes", showcasing any combination of the possible statistics, so you don't have to be reminded of your step count if you're only in it for the time and heart rate (or visa versa). Some of the options even have customizable color themes, which is great for picky people like me who need stuff in rainbow order or the world explodes.
The only issue I've ever had is one of my screens did crack. It wasn't covered under warranty (I had already had it for a while), so I had to get a new one. However, I have had a number of Fitbits and that was the only time it's ever happened, so it might have just been a fluke.
- Interchangeable bands
- Long battery life (they say 7 days, but mine lasts about 5...I wear it 24/7 for sleep tracking)
- Displays your phone calls/text messages
- Very versatile
- Screen damage is possible
- On the larger side (width and height wise, depth wise is actually quite skinny)
This is the only one on here I haven't personally owned. However, when I look at the reviews on various online sellers, this one always comes out near the top. It also has a lot of functionality that seems parallel to the Apple watch (such as reminders to breathe, remote camera capture, etc), but at a way lower price point.
Also, the friends I've had who owned one of these bad boys all swear by them, so it might be worth taking the risk on a lesser-known brand if you don't want to spring for one of the more expensive ones.
- Available in a variety of colors
- Sleep quality analysis
- Waterproof/swim-proof available
- Similar to the other watches in functionality
- Way lower price range than some competitors
- Not a recognized brand
Yes, another Fitbit. I warned you ahead of time I have had an embarrassing number of Fitbits. This was the first Fitbit I really fell in love with. It's smaller, so it looks more like a Livestrong bracelet than a bulky watch, but it still retains most of the functionality of the "bigger" fitness trackers.
The only serious downside here (what prompted me to switch to the Versa I wear now) was that it wasn't waterproof. In my lifestyle, this is kind of a must. I never had any water issues with the Alta (despite forgetting to take it off before showering a few times...okay, and once in the pool), but it still made me nervous that it said it wasn't waterproof.
Other than that, I did really love this tracker and still have it for days when I don't feel like wearing one of the "big boys".
- Smaller in size
- Heart rate sensor
- Displays calls and text messages
- Not waterproof (the only one on this list that isn't)
- No customizable clock faces (you can choose from 3-4 options)
- A little thicker (can get caught on stuff)
Which Fitness Tracker Is Best? (My Personal Conclusion)
If I had to buy a new tracker today, I would probably go with the Fitbit Charge 3. It's smallest, cheapest, and most compact of the "high functionality" trackers (that is, the Fitbit Charge 3, the Fitbit Versa, and the Apple Watch), and it beats the other more dainty trackers when it comes to functionality.
However, my preference may not be yours. I'd highly endorse any of the fitness trackers listed for any mom looking to take a more active role in her own fitness.
Let me know in the comments which one you end up getting or if there are any you'd like to see on the list!
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About the Author
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
My Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
My Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
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