Polar FA20 Activity Computer

The Polar FA20 activity tracker was a leader in the fitness wearable trend.

Polar FA20 fitness monitor

Information is power, and the Polar FA20 gives you that daily info, tucked neatly inside an easy-to-use gadget. Just as keeping a food diary can help you eat more sensibly, tracking your daily activity will very likely inspire you to move more. The wristwatch activity computer records active time, active steps, distance, and calories burned, and allows you to set training targets. It can record nine weeks of data.

The power is up to you! Buy from Amazon

Note: I first reviewed the Polar FA20 in 2009. Since then, Polar has launched several more heart-rate monitors, activity trackers, and sports watches. You can see them at Amazon, or read reviews of the Polar Loop, Polar M400 GPS Sports Watch, and Polar A300 Fitness and Activity Monitor from Wendy Bumgardner.

Polar FA20 - Pros and Cons


  • Simple to use and program
  • Lightweight and easy to wear
  • Inspirational


  • Does not count strength workouts, yoga, etc. as active time
  • Does not record heart rate

Polar FA20 Activity Computer - Review

What would possess me to march briskly back and forth across my bathroom floor at 11 p.m. several times in the past few weeks? Answer: The Polar FA20 activity computer, and its digital readout saying I'd been active for 57 minutes that day. With a 60-minute gold star so close, I had to find a way to squeeze in those extra three minutes.

So I'd march, toothbrush in hand, until I heard that cheerful little beep. Then the screen would announce: "Active day. Well done!" and I could go to bed happy.

Fitness does not have to mean a 5-mile daily run or a steady schedule of circuit training at the gym. Being active can also mean doing errands on foot, dancing with your kids, and even doing housework.

Especially if you pay attention and make an effort, those activities can add up to your recommended daily hour. (Yes, organized exercise is important too, but we can't always dedicate 60 consecutive minutes to it, every single day.)

To set up the Polar FA20 activity computer, all I had to do was plug in my age, weight, height, and training goals, then strap the lightweight watch to my wrist (no chest strap required). From then on, my every move was tracked. The Polar FA20 is best for walking, jogging, and other cardio workouts; when I did strength training or yoga classes, I didn't get credit for active time (bummer!).

With the press of just a few more buttons, I could set the FA20 to track training time (say, a run or a cardio class) specifically, to get more detailed information such as number of active steps and distance traveled. This info can also easily be uploaded to PolarPersonalTrainer for goal-setting and tracking, graphics, etc.

For me, the Polar FA20 was easier to use than other heart-rate monitors that track activity. Now if only it came in some cute colors!

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