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Editors and experts love these fitness trackers that do more than log your performance

Refine your daily routine with these gadgets.
Tyler Essary / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Fitness trackers are all the rage with their easy-to-use interfaces and key tracking metrics such as calories, steps and even sleep. But how do you know which one is best-suited for your personal goals?

Look no further, we tried several popular fitness watches and trackers to see which ones will accurately record your every step. We also caught up with Shop TODAY health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour to get some tips on how to maximize your fitness tracker.

Whether you're curious about how well you slept last night or want to keep track of your calories burned throughout the day, keep reading to learn all you know about fitness trackers and to shop our award winners you won't know how you lived without.

Why should you use a fitness tracker? | How to use | Award winners to shop | More to shop | How we chose | Meet the expert

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Award-winning fitness trackers

Why should you use a fitness tracker?

While the purpose of a fitness tracker is to help you focus on your routine, they can also help you with accountability when it comes to keeping your wellness goals. “I have many clients who have a few different fitness trackers based on their goals and what they like,” says Mansour.

In addition, fitness trackers can also be paired with apps such as MyFitness Pal or LoseIt to track food intake.

How to maximize the use of your fitness tracker

Mansour suggests wearing your fitness tracker or smartwatch daily in order to get a comprehensive overview of your fitness. “As a weight loss coach, I recommend taking a look at your progress after each workout so that you can see which routines are giving you the intensity and results you want. Then, after a week, look at how consistent you were and analyze that.”

The data that a fitness tracker provides will help you focus on adjusting your workout routine while keeping consistent track of your overall progress.

Start TODAY x Shop TODAY Wellness Awards: Best fitness trackers

Fitbit Luxe Activity Tracker

What we like
  • Info is "easy to understand"
  • "Waterproof," "durable"
Something to note
  • Screen display malfunctions
  • Overall short lifetime

Award: Best for everyday exercise | Category: Watches/Fitness Trackers | Battery life: 5 days | Screen size: .96 inches | Tracks sleep? Yes

Receiving an almost perfect five-star rating for our reviewers, it's safe to say we couldn't get enough of this Fitbit iteration. Equipped with wellness-focused features like all-day activity tracking, GPS and heart monitoring technology, this watch is a one-stop-shop for fitness tracking.

Aside from all the amazing wellness features, our reviewers really loved that this tracker was also fashion-forward. "This watch is the perfect size and look for me since I don't like things that look too chunky on my wrist. I loved the gold chain too, it made the watch chicer and easy to dress up," says reporter and editor Liz Calvario.

Associate commerce editor Shannon Garlin also appreciates that it doubles as jewelry to wear to the office, saying, "I’m not big on a ton of jewelry and find fitness trackers and smart watches clunky and distracting, but Fitbit sent me their slim fit Luxe a couple years ago and I love it."

"It has all the necessary basics as other fitness trackers but it’s so lightweight and easy on the eyes, so I feel like it doesn't clash with my outfit if I wear it to work," she added.

Oura Ring Gen3

What we like
  • Battery lasts up to 7 days
  • "Nifty and durable" gadget
Something to note
  • Fits small
  • Set-up was difficult/not easy

Award: Best for sleep | Category: Watches/Fitness Trackers | Battery life: Up to 7 days | Screen size: N/A | Tracks sleep? Yes

While this ring is small, it's definitely mighty. And though this tracker isn't your traditional watch, it really impressed our reviewers.

The ring records and measures your daily activity, calorie burn and heart rate, though the sleep tracker is the star of the show, according to assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky. "I was most interested in the sleep tracker, and it really does give you so much information about your sleep cycle. My favorite screen is where you can see how much light sleep/deep sleep/REM sleep you’re getting, along with how long it takes you to fall asleep and if you wake up during the night."

One note is that you'll need an Oura subscription of $5 per month to use the technology, but the brand provides the first month free of charge.

Garmin Forerunner 55

What we like
  • Checks "all the boxes"
  • "Battery life is amazing"
Something to note
  • Charging malfunctions
  • Inconsistencies with tracking

Award: Best for runners | Category: Watches/Fitness Trackers Battery life: 20 hours | Screen size: 1.04 inches | Tracks sleep? Yes

Deemed the Cadillac of fitness watches, the runners on our team couldn't wait to get their hands on this popular Garmin model. Needless to say, once they used it, they can never go back to watchless runs. With a simple set-up process, managing editor Amy Eley was ready to hit the pavement and give her honest review.

"I really loved that it displayed live results of my pace so I knew if I needed to speed up or slow down in the moment. This watch is different from my other watches that only show my overall mile pace. I basically wore it all the time and love it."

Better yet, Eley also loved that the watch continually logged her active calories throughout the day and that a single charge lasted her two weeks.

More shopper and editor-recommended fitness trackers

Fitbit Inspire 2

What we like
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Easy to use
Something to note
  • None to note at this time

Battery life: 10 days | Screen size: .72 inches | Tracks sleep? Yes

Associate editor Kamari Stewart enjoys the simplicity this fitness tracker brings her, as she isn't distracted or overwhelmed with notifications like she was with other ones she's used in the past.

"I use my Fitbit solely for workout tracking/time/heart rate tracking," she says. "It’s exactly what I needed. My mom got it for me for Christmas two years ago and I’m still obsessed with it."

Fitbit Versa 2

What we like
  • Can "easily track" workouts
Something to note
  • Hard to read battery levels
  • On the bigger side

Battery life: Up to 6 days | Screen size: 1.34 inches | Tracks sleep? Yes

Social media video producer Anita Chomenko has been a longtime fan of Fitbit, noting that this one is her favorite among the ones she's used due to its heart rate tracking capabilities.

"I was interested in seeing more information on heart rate levels in different workouts," she says. "I like that you can sync up the watch with your app and see more in depth information there."

Polar Ignite Fitness Watch

What we like
  • "The Polar Ignite does the job with simplicity and adequate utility."
  • "Great, visible display."
Something to note
  • Charging malfunctions. 
  • "Poor Bluetooth connection." 

Battery life: Up to 17 hours | Screen size: 4.3 centimeters | Tracks sleep? Yes

Recovery is super important when it comes to your workouts, and this smartwatch will help you ensure that you’re carving out enough time to recharge. It monitors your sleep to measure how well you’ve recovered from yesterday’s activities, so you can make an informed decision about intensity for that day’s workouts. It also features everything else you’d want from a smartwatch including GPS, heart rate tracking, and the ability to receive texts and other notifications.

Whoop 4.0 Fitness and Activity Tracker

What we like
  • "Discreet."
  • "No distracting screen."
  • "Provides tons of health data"
Something to note
  • "App can be glitchy."
  • Have to pay for subscription.

Battery life: 5 days | Screen size: 4 inches | Tracks sleep? Yes

Associate editor Emma Stessman was sent this watch to try out, and while training for the New York Marathon it simultaneously made a "big difference" in her health.

"To consider the Whoop just a fitness tracker would really be oversimplifying it, it does so much more, providing a data for a range of health metrics to help you figure out how different factors, like stress, exercise and even alcohol consumption play into your overall health," she says.

Stessman also notes that not only does the watch track your activity and performance, but your strain as well, so you know whether or not to take a recovery day.

"From wearing it, I’ve learned so much more about my body and how I can optimize my performance for different activities."

Apple Watch Series 8 GPS

What we like
  • "Perfect for a first smart watch." 
  • "A stellar upgrade," to their other watches. 
Something to note
  • Set up process can be confusing. 
  • Many reviewers were sold a refurbished, or previously owned watch.

Battery Life: Up to 18 hours | Screen size: 41 millimeters | Tracks sleep: Yes

In addition to being able to call, text and listen to music from it, this watch tracks your steps, calories burned, heart rate, sleep and much more. This model is made for health tracking and features an upgraded sensor to measure your blood oxygen levels and a crystal clear retina display so you can always see your stats. Additionally, the Series 8 offers more screen area than its predecessor.

How we chose

The Shop TODAY editors and writers search the internet to find the best products out there. We interview expert sources, comb through customer reviews and even use our own personal experiences to make shopping easier for our readers.

As an editorial team, we independently create content and determine coverage based on research, reporting and what we think readers would like to read about. The goal of our content is to provide a service and inform readers who are on the hunt for the latest products to help make their life better.

Meet the expert

  • Stephanie Mansour serves is a fitness contributor for the TODAY Show, working with the Start TODAY team on programs and real-life applications that individuals can use to implement fitness into their everyday life. She is also the host of "Step it up with Steph," a fitness show on PBS.