Fitness Trackers, Activity Monitors, Wearables: What exactly is the difference?
If you have read our previous posts, which if you haven’t, I would highly recommend, you will have seen the phrases fitness trackers, activity monitors, and wearables are thrown about interchangeably. But what exactly is the difference? In theory, each of these phrases refers to the same thing, a wearable device usually worn on your wrist that monitors your daily activities and tracks your fitness levels. However, they can mean different things in terms of the technology they provide, so let’s break it down.
When I think of fitness trackers, I think of the King of all wearable devices; these bad boys incorporate everything fitness related, from nutrition to exercise. Fitness trackers will often possess the technology to measure things like heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and skin temperature, giving an overview of your fitness as a whole, as opposed to just your activity throughout the day. If you are interested in these features, in addition to ECG monitoring (discussed here), then fitness trackers may be for you. However, if you are just wanting a simple device that can give you a sum of your daily steps, calories burned, and distance travelled, an activity monitor may be for you.
This branch of wearables is a step down from fitness trackers but still very activity-based. They are seen as the more basic fitness trackers and usually measure your daily steps, your calories burned, and the distance you have covered during the day. These are still a fantastic option to kickstart your fitness, especially for those of you that are just starting your journey and do not want to get bombarded with lots of fitness-related data. What’s great about some brands, specifically Fitbit, is you can enter into daily competitions with friends and family that also own an activity monitor. These competitions usually involve the number of steps walked in a given time frame. But do not worry if none of the people that you know owns a Fitbit; the app that these devices pair with on your smartphone allow you to compete in several solo adventures, including things like walking the equivalent of the NYC Boston Marathon or Yosemite falls. These are great tools to motivate you to get out and get your steps in.