Top Wristband Activity Monitor Pedometers

Bracelets That Track Your Physical Activity

If you don't like wearing a pedometer on your waistband or carrying a pocket pedometer, there's a new breed of activity monitors you wear as a bracelet or wristband. Accelerometer chip technology has developed to the point where they can use formulas to weed out junk movements and produce fairly accurate step and physical activity data from a wristband. These monitors link up with phone apps or download their data to your computer to view more details on their web site. They vary in how much data you can see on the wristband's display (if any) and what they track in addition to steps. Some of them are sleep-tracking activity monitors and some can help reduce sitting time.

1
Fitbit Charge and Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HR
Fitbit Charge HR. Angela Weiss/Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment

The Fitbit Charge and Charge HR have the numerical display I prefer for a fitness band. The difference is that the Charge HR also measures your heart rate continuously via LED lights on the inside of the band, and it buckles on rather than snaps on.

Like all current Fitbit models, they pair with both PC and Mac via a wireless USB dongle and with an iOS and Android app via Bluetooth. If you have used other Fitbit models such as the Fitbit One or Fitbit Zip or Fitbit Flex, you can switch and continue to use your same Fitbit account. The Charge HR and Fitbit Surge super fitness watch also have continuous heart rate monitoring.

  • Display: With the press of a button, you can see the time/date, steps, all-day calories burned, distance and flights of stairs climbed.
  • Wristband: The flexible Charge wristband snaps one with a much better clasp than that on Flex. It is meant to be worn a little loose. The Charge HR band buckles on and should be worn snugly to get a stable heart rate reading. Unfortunately, you can't switch or replace the bands with either of the Charge models.
  • What They Track: In addition to total daily steps, distance and calories, you can press the button for a couple of seconds and track individual workouts. It automatically tracks sleep rather than having to start and stop a sleep period timer. You can view all of your stats on the Fitbit app or web site. The Charge HR also reads your heart rate continuously via LED lights on the inside of the band, with an indicator as to whether you are in a light, moderate or intense heart rate zone.
  • Vibrating Alarm and Call Alert/Caller ID: Pair it with your mobile phone and you will get a vibrating alert and see the caller ID for incoming calls. You can set multiple vibrating alarms to alert you at your chosen times.
  • Power: Recharge every 7-10 days by plugging it into a USB adapter.
  • Bottom Line: These are my preferred Fitbit bands. If you don't need heart rate, go with the Charge. If you want heart rate and/or far prefer a buckle clasp, the Charge HR is for you.
  • Full Review: Fitbit Charge - Buy from Amazon.com
  • Full Review: Fitbit Charge HR - Buy from Amazon.com

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2
Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Flex
Fitbit Flex. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

The Fitbit Flex tracks not only physical activity, but also tracks your sleep quality.

  • Display: The only display on the Flex band is a set of five white LED lights that light up as you achieve 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% of your daily step goal. They only light up when you tap on it. To see any other data you need to access the app or web site.
  • Wristband: The monitor slips inside a flexible wristband that comes in two sizes (both included) and has an adjustable snap-on strap. You can buy fashion colors and switch the Flex monitor between different colored bands. The band and monitor are waterproof to 10 meters, so you don't have to take it off to bathe or swim.
  • What it Tracks: Total daily steps (no individual workout tracking), distance, total daily calories burned, active time per day, and sleep quality. On the app or web site you can also use a diet tracker, water tracker, weight log and enter any activity not recorded by the Flex. Their app and web site also integrate with other popular fitness and health apps. You can view your past history.
  • Vibrating Alarm: Although it has no time display, you can set multiple vibrating alarms to alert you at your chosen times.
  • Power: Recharge every 7-10 days by plugging it into a USB adapter.
  • Bottom Line: An excellent addition to the Fitbit family.
  • Full Review: Fitbit Flex

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3
Garmin vivofit and vivofit 2

Garmin vivofit 2
Garmin vivofit 2. Garmin

Hate recharging your tracker? The Garmin vivofit or vivofit 2 are for you. Its replaceable batteries last a whole year. Like Fitbit, you can sync it with PC or Mac computer via a USB ANT receiver or via Bluetooth to an iOS or Android app. It will share data with the Apple Health app.

  • Display: The LED display is always visible and you can scroll through day, date, steps, distance, calories, heart rate if linked to a chest strap monitor. The vivofit 2 also has a backlight.
  • Wristband: The flexible wristband is completely replaceable, with colorful packs available, patterns and also dressier metal bands.
  • What it Tracks: Total daily steps, distance, total daily calories burned, sleep quality. The vivofit 2 has an activity timer for stats on workouts. It has a Move Bar that signals you've been inactive for an hour or more.
  • Workout Heart Rate: You can link it to any ANT heart rate monitor chest strap to see your heart rate, displaying your heart rate during workouts with automatic zones.
  • Power: Two replaceable batteries that should last for a year.
  • Bottom Line: A great alternative to the Fitbit family.
  • Full Review: Garmin vivofit and vivofit 2

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4
Garmin vivosmart

Garmin Vivosmart
Garmin Vivosmart. Garmin

The vivosmart does everything the vivofit does, but ups the ante with several smart features.

  • Smart Features: Vibrating alerts and display of incoming calls and text messages and vibrating inactivity alerts. You can control your music and VIRB camera. It vibrates when you wander out of Bluetooth connection with your phone and helps you find it if you misplace it. Syncs with both iOS and Android apps.
  • Display: The LED display is dark until you tap it. Swipe through day,/date, steps, steps remaining to goal, distance, calories, Move Bar inactivity indicator, music control, and heart rate (if linked to a chest strap monitor).
  • Wristband: The flexible wristband is thin and comfortable, but you can't interchange it.
  • What it Tracks: Total daily steps, distance, total daily calories burned, sleep quality, walking/running workouts. It vibrates when you've been inactive for an hour or more.
  • Workout Heart Rate: You can link it to any ANT heart rate monitor chest strap to see your heart rate, displaying your heart rate during workouts with automatic heart rate zones.
  • Power: Recharge every 5-7 days with a custom USB cord..
  • Bottom Line: A great alternative to the Fitbit family.
  • Full Review: Garmin vivosmart

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5
Nike+ FuelBand

Nike+ FuelBand
Nike+ FuelBand. Wendy Bumgardner © 2012

The FuelBand has a colorful display and displays the time of day, so you could use it as a pedometer watch. It communicates via Bluetooth to a iOS or Android phone app and via a USB connection to your PC or Mac computer. The upgraded Nike+ FuelBand SE replaced the original FuelBand in late 2013. Sadly, it appears that will be the last FuelBand as the development team has been disbanded and Nike plans to integrate their app into the iWatch instead.

  • Display: Press the button to scroll through time of day, Nike Fuel, exercise calories burned and total daily steps. A rainbow-colored indicator line above each display shows you how you are progressing towards your daily Fuel goal. When you achieve your goal, it does a rainbow wave. The FuelBand SE also tells you have many Hours Won, when you moved continuously for more than five minutes in an hour. The FuelBand SE will give you a Move Reminder if you haven't been active within the hour.
  • Wristband: The band is hard plastic. It comes in sizes small, medium-large, or extra large and you can adjust the size with extenders that are included. As of 2013, it comes in only black or an "ice" color. The SE update adds a contrasting color stripe. You can't wear it swimming -- it should not be immersed, but will tolerate getting damp.
  • What it Tracks: Besides the wrist display, on the online site or web app you can see a graph of your daily activity including steps, calories burned, NikeFuel total, Fuel per Hour rate, and Hours Won. You earn badges and can set goals and challenges. You can review all of your past history by day, week, month or year. When you reach your daily goal, a little Nike cartoon guy does a dance and shoots off fireworks. You can post your achievements to Facebook or Twitter. The FuelBand SE update adds exercise session tracking and hourly activity goals, which are motivating towards reducing sitting time.
  • Exercise Session Tracking: With the FuelBand SE, you can press the button on the wristband to track specific exercise sessions. During the session you see the elapsed time, NikeFuel per Minute, and NikeFuel session total. After you end a session, you can review it on the online Dashboard or app to see session details including calories burned and your exercise intensity graphed by the minute.
  • Power: Recharge every 3-4 days by plugging it into a USB adapter.
  • Bottom Line: I doubled my daily steps from the day I put on the FuelBand. I find it ridiculously motivating. Although I never liked to wear a bracelet or wristband before, I have worn it every waking hour for three years. It is a concern that Nike appears to be discontinuing development of the FuelBand, and may discontinue production. I have had each one break after a year, so you may get addicted and then be left with a broken heart. The good news is that the top FuelBand designers have joined the Apple Watch team, so there may be a smooth transition to that new wearable.
  • Overview: Nike+ FuelBand
  • Full Review: Nike+ FuelBand SE

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6
Polar Loop

Polar Loop
Polar Loop. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

The Polar Loop communicates via Bluetooth Smart with an iOS app, and to computers via a custom USB cord. In addition to tracking steps and calories and sleep and coaching you to reach your daily goals, it pairs with Bluetooth-linked heart rate monitor straps such as the Polar H7 and you can view your heart rate on the Loop and track it with your workouts.

  • Display: Touch the single subtle button for a bright red LED display of your steps, all-day calories burned, and progress towards activity goal with the time remaining you need to be either up, walking or running. It also shows you the time of day.
  • Wristband: You trim the soft plastic strap to fit and it closes with a clasp. The sensor itself it harder plastic.It is water-resistant for bathing and swimming.
  • What it Tracks: When you sync with the app or the USB cable, you can see your activity in great detail, color coded for intensity. You get totals for time sleeping, sitting, standing and light activity, walking and moderate activity, and jogging or intense activity. You get inactivity alerts when you haven't gotten up and moved in an hour. When adding a Polar heart rate monitor, you can track workouts. You can also note your weight in the app or Polar Flow online dashboard to track it.
  • Power: Recharge the day band every three to four days by plugging it into the USB adapter.
  • Bottom Line: The Polar Loop is a great monitor guide you towards better fitness. The coaching to be more active in more ways throughout the day is very motivational. It bridges the gap between healthy lifestyle monitors and sports monitors by linking with the Polar heart rate monitors.
  • Full Review: Polar Loop
  • The updated Polar Loop 2 has a more flexible band and also gives you notifications from your iPhone.

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7
Jawbone UP

Jawbone UP Family of Fitness Trackers - UP24, UP MOVE with clip and wristband, UP3
Jawbone UP Family of Fitness Trackers - UP24, UP MOVE with clip and wristband, UP3. Jawbone

The Jawbone UP line is being updated for  2016, featuring the UP Move, UP 2, UP 3 and UP 4 while discontinuing the UP and UP24.  UPs have a minimal display and are designed to work solely with a phone app (iOS or Android) wirelessly via Bluetooth. UP has one of the best sleep tracking functions of any activity monitor. The UP, UP24 and UP3 can be set to vibrate when you've been inactive or to wake you from a Power Nap, or to wake you at the best time in the morning.

  • Display: The band of the UP2 has no display. You must sync it with the app to see your data. The MOVE shows progress to your goal.
  • Wristband: The UP Move can be worn on a clip or a flexible wristband, the other UPs have a flexible wristband and rigid sensor area. It will tolerate getting damp, such as in the shower, but is not meant to be worn swimming.
  • What it Tracks: Steps, distance, active time, longest time active, longest time idle, total calories burned, active calories burned, resting calories burned, activity graph, sleep quality graph, total time in bed, time it took to fall asleep, light sleep, deep sleep, times awakened, and the amount of time you were awake during the night. You can review all of your past history by day. You can also track and time individual workouts. You can use its food diary to track and analyze your food and drink intake and track your water intake.
  • Power: Recharge every 10 days by plugging it into a USB adapter.
  • Bottom Line: I love the Idle Alert and I wear it to remind me to get up and move throughout the workday to reduce my health risks of sitting too much.
  • Review: Which Jawbone UP is right for you?

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8
iFit Active

iFit Active
iFit Active. iFit

The IFit Active can be worn as a fitness band or on a belt clip. You can change bands as the sensor is removable, and they have various colors available for low prices.

  • Display: Press a button to see the time, steps, distance, calories in, calories out.
  • Wristband: The band is available in four colors. It closes with a snap.
  • What it Tracks: Steps, distance, all-day calories burned, calories eaten, workout time. It tracks sleep.
    Calories Eaten: You can add calories eaten to your daily total using the buttons on the sensor to add 50 calories at a time. This is great for on-the-go. In the app you can add foods from a large database for further diet tracking and analysis.
    Inactivity Alerts: You can receive vibration alerts after sitting for a chosen interval.
    Workouts: You can start and stop a workout tracker from the sensor.
    Sleep: You can set it to track sleep automatically in a time frame or start and stop sleep periods. It tracks deep sleep, light sleep, time awake, number of times awake. It will vibrate to wake you at a chosen time.
  • App: Syncs via Bluetooth to iFit app, with data added to iFit account.
  • Power: It recharges with a custom USB cradle, a charge lasts several days.
  • Bottom Line: This is an excellent pedometer for dieters and for those who want inactivity alerts. It has a price point of under $80.

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9
Misfit Shine

Misfit Shine - Grey with Sportband
Misfit Shine - Grey with Sportband. Misfit

The Misfit Shine is a beautiful matte aluminum monitor that can be worn as a wristband, with either a sport band or leather band, or on a clasp, necklace, or magnet attachment to wear anywhere on your body. It is purely mobile, communicating with iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth 4.0.

  • Display: Tap the Shine twice to see it light up with 12 LED dots around the face, each showing 1/12th of your daily goal. You can enable the clock feature to show the time via lighted dots for hour and minutes, either before or after the goal display.
  • Wristband: The sport band may or may not be included. It is comfortable plastic that is closed with a snap clasp. You can also buy a black or natural leather wristband for the Shine, to dress it up.
  • What it Tracks: When you sync with your mobile device, you see steps, all-day calories burned, and distance, plus a graph of your activity. Workouts: It automatically detects workouts or you can tap it three times to tag the beginning and end of a workout, and you can edit the kind of workout to get a better calorie estimate. Each workout is coded as very active, pretty active, or kinda active. Sleep: Tap three times to log sleep for total sleep time and time in deep sleep. You get trophies for reaching and exceeding your daily goal, and there is a weekly graph to show how you did each day. You can follow friends' totals and post your achievements on a World Feed.
  • Power: It runs on a replaceable 2032 coin battery, which should last three to four months.
  • Bottom Line: This is a sleek monitor that you can wear as jewelry while still tracking your daily activity and sleep. There is no reason to take it off.
  • Full Review: Misfit Shine

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Disclosure

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer for the Fitbit Flex and Charge, Polar Loop, Misfit Shine, Garmin vivofit and vivosmart.

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