Fitbit. Garmin. iWatch. Misfit. Jawbone. So many fitness trackers, so many questions. How do they work? What are they really used for? Which one is the best?

There’s no perfect science to these trendy gadgets, but there are a few things we know: they’re comfortable, they’re motivating, and they’re all different. So how do you choose which fitness tracker is right for you?

We did some research and polled a resident expert, so you’ll be in the know next time you’re in the market for one.

The Good

Trackers are good for monitoring your sleep, your steps and your heart rate. In the simplest terms, they measure motion. All of this information, along with your heart rate at different times of the day and during different activities, is collected and crunched to create an overall reading.

“I use the TomTom Spark GPS Fitness Watch and I’m a huge fan,” said our own KTB. “It’s great for running and tracking other activities, like swimming and cycling, and also has a stop watch which can be pretty helpful. It will also track steps and tell you when you’ve hit your daily goal.”

The Unknown

Many fitness trackers promote the ability to measure your stress level and mood, and if you’ve used more than one fitness tracker at a time, you know that it’s not likely they’ll agree on the stats. That’s because each tracker has different sensors that measure what you’re doing, and they all use slightly different calculations to translate the data into consumable info for your health tracking.

Instead of looking for additional bells and whistles, choose your fitness tracker based on your individual needs and how active your lifestyle is.

The Results

Now you know how they work, so how do you know which fitness tracker is right for you?

First, create your goals and then, determine what you need a tracker for. All fitness trackers will track your daily activity, including steps, flights and calories burned. You set a goal of how active you want to be – and what your measure of success is.

“It has been really helpful for me on my training runs,” said KTB, about her watch. “TomTom has an app for your phone and computer and it will sync up so you can see all of your past workouts.  This makes it really easy to track improvements in my performance and more.”

Remember: your tracker is only one tool to help you achieve success. It’s still on you to show up, sweat hard and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Editor’s Note: TomTom now offers a new version of the popular Spark GPS watch with MP3 storage capabilities and bluetooth pairing for use with compatible headphones.

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