actively monitoring life: review

Summer is pretty much here which means we’re all ready to get outside and be more active! I stay outside year round but whether you’re hiking, biking, running or walking, fitness trackers can be a great tool to monitor your progress and help you meet your goals. For so many, they seem to be the new fitness fashion accessory. I pretty much never take my own watch off. There are a lot of different devices to choose from and all are definitely not created equal. recently reviewed 68 different trackers to come up with their top 3 picks. Here are their results: [affiliate links included for shopping convenience!] 

Best Under $100: Garmin Vivofit 3

$69.99 on Amazon

If you’re interested in tracking your general day-to-day activity, but aren’t wanting to spend a lot of money, we recommend the Garmin Vivofit 3. It’s incredibly simple to use, comfortable to wear, and is otherwise generally unobtrusive. You can track the number of steps you’ve taken within a reasonable margin of error, as well as the distance you’ve traveled each day — along with a range of other movements using its MoveIQ function. Its app integrates seamlessly with MyFitnessPal, which allows you to easily track your calorie intake, and the device will even prompt you to move when you’ve been stationary for too long. The Vivofit 3 doesn’t have GPS capabilities or a built-in heart rate monitor (although, it can connect with an external one that’s sold separately), but its battery lasts up to a year before needing to be replaced. That’s hard to argue with when most fitness trackers need to be charged at least weekly.

Best Heart Rate Monitoring Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Charge 2

$148.95 on Amazon

The Fitbit Charge 2 is another standout fitness tracker. It looks basically the same as the Garmin Vivofit 3 and includes all of the same basic functionality — but also comes with a built-in heart rate monitor and calorie tracking within the Fitbit app. If you want to use your fitness tracker to help you improve your cardiovascular health, we recommend making the added investment. It can provide you with insight into long-range changes in your cardiovascular health, even if its specific readings are somewhat inaccurate. (All of the devices we tested with onboard heart rate sensors were off by at least an average of 10 bpm.) We also really loved Fitbit’s app and community more than Garmin’s — it was friendlier, more motivating, and more fun to use.

Best Heart Rate Monitoring and GPS Fitness Tracker: Garmin Vivosmart HR+

$179.99 on Amazon


For long distance endurance training, or those who just want to keep track of their every move — not just steps — we recommend the Garmin Vivosmart HR+. It’s similar in almost every way to the GPS-equipped Fitbit Surge, but it’s waterproof. It has all of the same basic capabilities as the Vivofit 3, but also comes with a heart rate monitor and GPS tracking, which allows you to measure the distance and elevation you’ve traveled outside, whether you’re biking, paddling, or running up a mountain.

To read more of their research, check out:


And for those who want to know more about my run watch, I have the Vivoactive HR by Garmin! It’s not reviewed in that article but it’s another great fitness tracker to look at! I can track my runs, rides, cross training, swims, paddle-boarding, and if you’re a golfer it even tracks that apparently? It connects to my phone and alerts me when I get messages, calls, etc.

What’s your favorite tracker? What watch do you use?
What’s is your next adventure?


  1. This is a timely post, as I killed a Withings Pulse by wearing it in the shower (a fitness tracker that’s not waterproof; what the…). I’m considering an Apple Watch 2, but I’m waiting to see what announcements come tomorrow for watchOS.

  2. Nate

    I can’t seem to get on board with a fitness tracker. I guess it’s from my own vanity, but it’s not something I want to wear all the time. When I’m cycling/running I like my phone paired with a good ole Timex Ironman watch.

    I guess I could wear one only when I’m being active, but it’s a bit of an investment for not a ton of gain over my phone/watch pairing.

    1. Totally fair! I think for so many fitness trackers help people stay active when they are just getting started on their fitness journey. They’re a great tool! There are days I just want to take it off but the step count gets addicting for some…

    1. Ohhh good point! Even Timex had a watch with music! I’m not a music while I train person but I know so many are. I wonder if they will add something with music to their line of watches in the near future?

  3. J Moreno

    I just bought the Garmin 935! It’s the latest of the Garmin watches and the only reason I got it at HS $500 price tag is I got a hefty discount from a friend who works at Garmin. As a runner and Tristhlete it’s the best watch out there! Keeps track of every activity and even has a Tristhlon mode which will keep track of your swim (lap or open water), bike, run, and your transitions! Links to Strava and other apps. Has a built in heart rate monitor and will show you your heart rate stays after every activity. I would not have paid 500 for it but at 270.00 it’s well with it for this coach and avid runner/triathlete/stat guy!!

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