Wrist assessment: The best fitness trackers for every sport

Runner? Swimmer? Cyclist? Swingballer? There's a fitness tracker out there for everyone. Except maybe the last one

Not many of us like to simply go out and 'sport'.

Just like gadgets, we mostly prefer to nerd out about and define ourselves by exercising sub-genres - so it makes sense for our fitness trackers to specialise too.

Not that there's anything wrong with glorified step-counters like these budget trackers. But if you class yourself as a runner, cyclist, swimmer or golfer, and need the motivational adrenaline shot that dedicated trackers can provide, you've come to the right place.

Whether you're on two feet, two wheels or have just had too many winter pub lunches, we've rounded up our favourite fitness trackers for each sport and every budget. Even skim-reading these pages has been shown to burn 282 calories*...

*may involve browsing from a gym cross-trainer

The pro choice: TOMTOM SPARK 3 CARDIO + MUSIC

Sometimes the only way to get yourself out of bed for your morning run is to turn it into a Rocky montage. Enter TomTom’s Spark 3, which is particularly suited to music-loving pavement pounders.

Getting Eye of the Tiger on to its 3GB memory is hardly the slickest procedure (although it’s definitely worth it), but once the tunes are there and you’ve got a pair of Bluetooth headphones hooked up – it comes with some for an extra £30 – you can start tracking your runs with the built-in GPS and heart-rate monitor.

You can set specific objectives for each part of your run, such as fat burning, how many calories you want to crush, or what distance you want to cover. It’s certainly no Apple Watch in terms of design (the greyscale screen could be brighter and has just 144x168 pixels) or functionality (it doesn’t do phone notifications), but that simplicity equals better battery life. That said, if you’re using GPS and the heart-rate monitor while playing music, TomTom reckons you’ll get up to five hours on a full charge. In our experience it’s closer to four. This is certainly no stamina champ. 

There’s no touchscreen, so a 4-way button underneath the screen controls all the functions, with vibration feedback to confirm selections – handy when you need to skip an accidentally loaded ballad in mid-run.

Once back home you can sync up your activities to the TomTom MySports app, which keeps track of all your workout data including duration, calories burned, heart rate and a map of where you actually ran.  

STUFF SAYS: ★★★★★

Tough but tuneful, perfect for routine jobs

Buy the Spark 3 cardio + music here from TomTom

Also consider...

GARMIN VIVOSMART HR+ (£170)

The Vivosmart HR+ isn’t the best-looking fitness band, even in the natty purple colour seen here. It’s packed with sensors, though – like an optical heart-rate monitor for getting you up off the sofa, and GPS to track your routes. This Fitbit’s monochrome OLED screen is four times bigger than the ridiculously simple screen found on the original Charge, which makes it a whole lot easier to read at arm’s length. That simple screen can show off a huge amount of data, its battery is good for all-day tracking, and it sticks smartphone notifications on your wrist. 

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Read our full Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review

FITBIT CHARGE 2 (£120)

Fitbit’s Charge 2 isn’t just a glorified pedometer. This 24/7 tracker has a built-in optical heart-rate monitor, making it more accurate than most, and it can also work out your VO2 Max score. There’s no need to pre-warn the Vivosmart when you’re about to embark on a severe calorie cleanser: it automatically detects what kind of activity you’re doing to ensure it records the right movements. You’ll have to bring your phone with you if you want to use GPS to record your route, and it’s not waterproof; but if you don’t want to switch between a day-to-day fitness band and a dedicated running watch, the Charge 2 is worth a space on your wrist.   

Stuff says: ★★★★✩

Read our full Fitbit Charge 2 review

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