What is the best fitness watch for exercise?
What is the best fitness watch for exercise?
The one that fulfills and suits your everyday activity levels and workout sessions. So, what do you want your watch to do for you and what information do you want from it.
With so many brands out there, such as Polar, Garmin, FitBit and many more, all offering various types of watches and different features. It can be a little overwhelming, with an overload of product jargon and terminology, especially if wearable technology is all new.
Smartwatches are getting more complex, especially when it comes to health, fitness and activity tracker features.
For example, most fitness orientated smartwatches will have built in GPS, a heart rate monitor (HRM), and many smartwatches are looking at ECG, heart rate alerts and even blood oxygen (SPo2) tracking.
Wearing a fitness watch is now much more than just about style or getting messages: it could be a potential lifesaver too.
So, we want to try and make it easier for you all to digest and explain in a little more depth. If you need some help in deciding then we can help you work it out. If you need some guidance on the technical aspects of the HR monitor and fitness watch, then just drop us a message on Facebook or Instagram.
Heart Rate Monitor and GPS tracker
GPS monitors also come with a built-in heart rate (HR) monitor on the wrist, which is accurate, but if you need greater accuracy most monitors will also work with a traditional HR chest strap. Generally if you are doing a lot of reps/intervals or any fast high intensity workouts you may find you want to use a heart-rate strap to get a more accurate heart rate.
These have the basic features: speed, pace, distance, heart rate. They can link to your phone if you are interested in smart notifications. They also all have a fitness tracker where you can get information such as daily step count and sleep.
Battery life in watches do vary quite a bit – between 6 and 17 hours, depending on the model – so if you need a longer battery life this could be a deciding factor too.
They also will do a range of other sports as well – again this varies from monitor to monitor. The Polar Unite is the best value for money on the market at the moment due to the flexibility in the number of sports you can upload to the watch. Polar offer up to 130 sports profiles that you can choose from including swimming, dancing and a Les Mills Body Pump class for example.
This has been important to us because we like to track how many calories we burn in different classes and it is well known, that Polar are the masters in this area. There products are scientifically tested, they are long lasting and it is what the professionals use, they created the HR monitor! That's enough for us!
It is important to ensure that your data is accurate too because if the heart rate feedback is incorrect then not only could it be potentially fatal for those with heart issues but it ultimately means that it will take me longer to achieve your goals.
For example, if you are aiming to gain muscle mass and your post session fuel was based around your calorie burn from your fitness watch, it could mean that you over consume or under consume, resulting in a deficit impacting muscle recovery or the other way, you overeat and then gain surplus weight. It can all get very technical but that is why we love Polar. They take away all of the sports science and make it very user-friendly, by telling you what to do each day to get fit.
Good sleep quality is linked to good health, mental wellbeing and avoiding some long-term illnesses, so using a sleep monitor to check you're getting enough rest is a no-brainer. Many watches now include many useful lifestyle tools and features that help to improve things like sleep, mood, stress and more.
When we sleep, we go through a sleep cycle That involves sleep phases of; light; deep; and REM sleep. We have to go through these stages in cycles to feel rested, and if you're not, it's worth investigating.
Many sleep trackers offer this data now and based on the quality of your nights sleep, the fitness watch will give you a sleep score. This makes it easier and more meaningful to gauge whether it is good or bad and where our averages fare.
Blood oxygen and sleep apnea
The latest data in town is blood oxygen – which is tracked using an SpO2 sensor. Although not currently available on the Polar Unite. You'll find them on a range of different devices including some Fitbit, Garmin and Withings devices, at a higher price point.
Basically, the LED's on the HRM can record the oxygen in your blood – a dip in levels while asleep – can be linked to a condition called sleep apnea. About 4 in 100 middle-aged men are thought to be affected in the UK compared to about 2 in 100 middle-aged women and many more won't actually realise they have it. So, a fitness tracker out there could provide you with this data too.