Pedometer Watches and Fitness Smart Watches

It's easy to keep track of your walking steps, distance, calories burned, and other data with the help of a pedometer watch. You'll find a great variety to choose from, in different styles and with various features.

The main differences between these smart watches include whether or not they also have the functions of a sports watch such as a chronograph, a countdown timer, and alarms. Some track your steps continuously while others require you to turn them on to begin recording. These will turn themselves off after a period of inactivity.

It's important that you choose wisely to get the features you need. For instance, you may want one for workouts only, one for total daily steps, or one that takes care of both. There are many to choose from, so let's look at your best options.


The Apple Watch has essential fitness tracking features. To use most of its features, however, you need to have an iPhone (5 or above) on you as well.

The watch features an advanced motion processing chip that allows it track steps, distance, elevation, exercise intensity, and heart rate. The Apple Watch 2 has built-in GPS for speed and distance, while the original and Watch 1 editions rely on your phone for GPS.

The integrated all-day fitness tracking feature has a three-ring activity screen to encourage you to reach a daily activity goal in three ways: active calorie burning, exercise minutes, and standing for at least a minute each hour.

You can track both indoor and outdoor workouts. The heart rate sensor on the watch measures intensity without a chest strap monitor.

The Apple Watch 2 is water-resistant for swimming and can track swim workouts. The original and Watch 1 should not be worn while swimming.

The watch includes walking directions. You simply load up a destination and you'll get a tap when it's time to turn.

The Apple Watch includes many other smart functions that are convenient for walking. These include receiving and making voice calls, texts, and emails, and controlling your music playback so you can keep your phone secure in a pocket. Also, try the Dark Sky app that notifies you when it's going to start raining.

You can choose between two sizes of the watch. Sport versions have a polymer band in black or neon colors (additional bands are available from Apple and you can buy third-party bands for much less). The dress versions have two sizes for smaller and larger wrists. The Apple Watch 2 uses the same bands as the original version.


The Fitbit Charge 2 is a great update to the discontinued Fitbit Charge and Fitbit Charge HR. It has a larger display so you can see your data as well as incoming call, text, and calendar alerts.

The watch tracks steps, distance, calories, active minutes, floors climbed, and sleep. You get vibrating Move Reminders each hour if you haven't logged 250 steps. You can track individual workouts and it has multisport detection. You can also connect it to your phone's GPS to see real-time speed and distance.

This band features continuous heart rate monitoring via PurePulse LED lights on the underside of the wristband. It has a watch band clasp for more secure closure. The strap is easily switched so you can choose your style from day to day or hour to hour.


The Vivoactive combines Garmin's trusted GPS sports speed/distance technology with all-day activity monitoring, smartwatch notifications, and Connect IQ widgets/apps. It has inexpensive, interchangeable bands in a variety of colors.

For multi-sport enthusiasts, it has built-in apps for walking, running, cycling, swimming, treadmill, and golfing. You can see your total daily steps, get Move Reminders, and track workouts.

The original Vivoactive can link to a heart rate monitor but it doesn't track your heart rate directly from your wrist. The Vivoactive HR model, on the other hand, includes on-wrist heart rate detection.

The battery life is up to three weeks with activity tracking or 10 hours of GPS usage for the Vivoactive. The Viviosactive HR has up to eight days of activity tracking. If you don't have an iOS or Android smartphone to connect to the Vivoactive, you can download your data to your computer with the docking/charging cradle.

You may also be interested Garmin's wristband activity monitors, the Garmin Vivofit and Garmin Vivosmart. They are excellent wristband pedometers/watches.


The Fitbit Alta displays time and date with the flick of your wrist or a tap. You can also view your steps, distance, calories, and active minutes, plus it sends you smart notifications.

The Alta has hourly vibrating Move Reminders if you've been sitting. It automatically tracks sleep and workouts as well. The Alta HR includes heart rate detection. 

You can easily switch bands, including leather and metal, to match your style needs. Also, the straps are the same for the Alta and Alta HR, which is quite convenient.


The Fitbit Surge is an all-day wear smartwatch. It comes with all of the bells and whistles for fitness tracking, GPS speed/distance, PurePulse strapless heart rate monitoring with simplified heart rate zones, automatic sleep monitoring, message alerts/caller ID, and music control when near your smartphone.

It has customizable watch faces so you can change its look to match your style.

The Flare clock view shows your activity each minute so you can easily spot when you've been sitting too long. It tracks workouts as well as all-day activity. You won't need your smartphone nearby to track your workouts via GPS, see your speed, distance, and altitude climbed, and save your routes. Loyal Fitbit wearers will be able to continue adding to their Fitbit activity history.

Battery life is always an issue with GPS. The Surge has a seven-day battery life if you don't use GPS, but only a five-hour battery life when using GPS. The company recommends recharging after any GPS-tracked workout.


This pedometer watch has a feature not found on many others...yet. It measures your exposure to bright light, so you can aim to get enough in the morning and less before bedtime.

You can see your heart rate either with a finger touch or link to most Bluetooth chest straps. It has a great customizable vibrating inactivity alert so you aren't locked into just once per hour and automatically detects and tracks sleep and naps. You can track workouts as well.

The face shows your steps, time (including seconds), date, and more. You can view much of your data on the watch itself as well as in the app. 

Incredibly, the replaceable battery lasts six months without recharging. 


Nokia has relaunched the Withings activity monitors and watches under their own brand. The Nokia Steel is the company's activity-tracking and sleep-tracking watch that never needs recharging.

On the face, you can see your progress towards your daily goal. It tracks steps, distance, swimming, running, and calories burned. It also monitors your sleep, with sleep cycle analysis for light and deep sleep and a silent alarm. An HR version is also available that can detect your heart rate.

The watch automatically syncs with your smartphone. The stainless steel case has a silicone strap. 


The Timex Metropolitan+  is a hybrid pedometer and watch and it works well for both functions.

First, it's an analog quartz watch with a sweep second hand and unisex styling. It has an Indiglo on-demand backlight for easy viewing.

Second, it has an accurate pedometer mechanism built-in. You can see your steps and distance on the face of the watch and sync it to a phone app via Bluetooth. It uses a replaceable battery with an estimated life of 1.5 years.

The activity data is basic, really just all-day steps, distance, and calories burned, though it does include weekly averages. If that's all you need, this is a good timepiece and tracker. Sleep tracking is promised with a future firmware update.


The Polar A300 Fitness and Activity Monitor is both a 24/7 activity monitor and a sports watch. It counts your all-day steps and active time tracks your sleep quality and has inactivity alerts when you've been sitting too long.

You can also track workouts, including heart rate and zone alerts when it's teamed with the optional Polar Bluetooth heart rate monitor chest strap.

It doesn't have smartwatch notifications or GPS. However, it feeds into the excellent Polar Flow app and online dashboard and plays nice with other Polar devices.


This Android smartwatch has an impressive array of features. It tracks your steps, distance, calories, and heart rate continuously. It has a built-in optical heart rate monitor, so you don't need a chest strap.

The Moto 360 also responds to voice commands. It can give you directions to walk, bike, or drive where you want to go and can provide coaching advice, too.

Beyond fitness tracking, it sends you Android Wear alerts for weather, traffic, flights, and more. You also have the ability to send texts by voice command.

The battery life is approximately one day before recharging. Unfortunately, it doesn't play nice with iPhones. It comes in a variety of finishes and either a leather or steel watchband.


The Polar M400 is a sleek watch that has GPS built-in for speed and distance tracking of your workouts on demand. It also tracks your all-day activity (steps, distance, calories), gives you inactivity alerts, and automatically tracks your sleep.

You can comfortably wear the Polar M400 as a watch, with a choice of analog or digital watch faces. If you pair it with the ​Polar H7 Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap, you can also view your heart rate and automatic heart rate zones.

You can view lots of data on the watch itself, including training advice, trophies, and stats. You do get into more detail on the app and Polar Flow website, including maps and graphs of your GPS-tracked workouts.

Other features walkers will enjoy are a finish time estimator, interval timers, and a "navigate back to start" arrow.

The battery charge should last for 30 days of activity tracking or eight hours if you use GPS or heart rate monitoring. It recharges with a standard USB cable.


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