From Apple Watch to Oura Ring - the 6 best health trackers to buy this Christmas

From Apple Watch to Oura Ring – the 6 best health trackers to buy this Christmas

Follow your path to better health

Thinking of giving yourself or a loved one an activity bracelet for Christmas? The team put six of the best to the test…

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Here are six of the best fitness trackers to help you master your health this winterCredit: Photography: Getty Images

We may have just found the perfect Christmas present.

Not only do today’s fitness trackers look like a sleek new watch, they’re also scientifically proven to get us moving more.

In fact, those who strap a tracker to their wrist can take 1,800 more steps and 40 minutes more walking per day than those who don’t, according to scientists at the University of South Australia.

But with so many choices, where to start?

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We put some of the latest designs through their paces in time for Christmas…

BEST FOR FITNESS

Apple Watch Series 8, from £419

Apple Watch Series 8 does everything from heart rate monitoring to step counting

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Apple Watch Series 8 does everything from heart rate monitoring to step countingCredit: Apple (Apple.com/uk)

Chief health officer Lizzie Parry said: ‘I’ve always resisted the need for more technology in my life – and I’ve never followed in my footsteps in a forensic way.

“I walk to work and aim to hit the gym four or five times a week, which is my covered exercise quota.

“So when I tried the Apple Watch, I didn’t expect it to make a big difference, but I was wrong.

“It does it all: monitors heart rate, counts steps, helps you set – and stick to – daily exercise and movement goals, and calculates calories burned.

“You can even perform an ECG to check your heart rhythm.

“Daily stats help me tailor my workouts and push me to exercise more. It even reminds me to get up every hour – really handy if, like me, you sit at a desk all day.

“And as a big fan of breathing to help relieve stress, the Breathing Guide is a great way to unwind before bed.

“It’s also easy to sync with an iPhone and automatically start tracking. That said, it can get addicting.

“I found myself freaking out when I didn’t reach my goals. So like most things in life, moderation is key.

“Don’t become a slave to this and it will give you the kick we all need to move a little more and feel better.”

BEST FOR STRESS

Garmin Venu 2 Plus, £399.99

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus congratulates you with buzzing, fun graphics when you reach a fitness goal

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The Garmin Venu 2 Plus congratulates you with buzzing, fun graphics when you reach a fitness goalCredit: Garmin (Garmin.com)

Ella Walker, Health Articles Editor, says: “The Garmin is high-tech and classy, ​​and I found the sleep feature really interesting.

“It breaks down Zzzs into deep, lighter rapid eye movements, even mirroring the restlessness caused by bad dreams on the app’s accompanying sleep chart.

“He’s also very thorough about stress, telling me to ‘calm down’ and ‘breathe’ when my heart rate increases.

“The watch is not always intuitive. I forget to tell it that I finished yoga, so it records 13 hours of stretching, failing to record I stopped doing downward dog.

“Calorie tracking is confusing – you don’t enter diet data, so it seems like pure guesswork.

“It also doesn’t take into account gardening or housework, but both make me sweat! And the motion alerts are frustrating, chiming every day at 10 a.m. telling me to get up and take a walk or do exercise, even though I cycled to work, but it’s a good screen break reminder.

“Best of all, it congratulates you with buzzy, fun graphics when you reach a fitness goal, which encourages me to climb the stairs and take on more steps.”

BEST FOR SLEEP

Oura ring, £227 with access to the app for six months, then £5.30 per month

The Oura Ring is bulky yet lightweight and easy to carry when you're on the go

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The Oura Ring is bulky yet lightweight and easy to carry when you’re on the goCredit: Oura (Ouraring.com)

Health editor Ellie Cambridge says: ‘I thought seven hours of kip and a reasonable bedtime hit the mark.

“But there’s more to sleep, according to Oura.

“Bulky but lightweight (a relief when worn 24/7), applying the ring gives you a ‘readiness score’ out of 100 each morning, which reflects your sleep quality, the previous day’s activity and your recovery.

“I started craving my daily note, hoping it promised an energized body. It freaked me out if it said the opposite of what I expected, but this little device is nifty .

“If you had a drunken night or a nap, that can tell, plus it timed when I caught Covid – reporting my elevated heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate.

“The thought of my daily note also encouraged me to go to bed on time, rather than having another G&T with friends.

“It showed me that sleep and what I do every day are two sides of the same coin. It was a real insight into how my body recharges.”

BETTER FOR INTESTINAL HEALTH

Food marble area 2, £189

The FoodMarble Aire 2 is the world's most advanced digestive tracker and helps track food, sleep and stress

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The FoodMarble Aire 2 is the world’s most advanced digestive tracker and helps track food, sleep and stressCredit: FoodMarble (Foodmarble.com)

Lucy Gornall, health and fitness writer, says, “I’ve had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for a decade, so I was excited to try the heart rate tracker. most advanced digestive respiration in the world.

“The little square breathalyzer connects to an easy-to-navigate app, and for two weeks I tracked my eating, sleeping, stress and bowel habits (tell an app when I opted for a number two was interesting!).

“Several times a day I also got alerted to test my breath. That’s where the magic happens.

“Your levels of hydrogen and methanol – the gases released when bacteria in your large intestine begin to ferment the food you’ve eaten – are assessed.

“Problems arise when gas builds up too quickly, leading to cramping, bloating and other digestive issues.

“When I ate anything dairy-based or with sweeteners, my levels would skyrocket and I would end up bloated and gassy.

“He also knew when I had to ‘go’ – gas levels in my breath were significantly lower after a trip to the bathroom, but high before.

“It’s expensive, but it seems to work. I’m now much more aware of which foods cause problems.”

BEST FOR CALORIE CONTROL

Huawei Watch GT 3, from £159.99

The versatile Huawei GT 3 tells you calories burned and how much rest time you need before exercising again, which is great for injury prevention

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The versatile Huawei GT 3 tells you calories burned and how much rest time you need before exercising again, which is great for injury preventionCredit: Huawei (Consumer.huawei.com)

Terri-Ann Williams, Senior Health Reporter, says: “The versatile Huawei GT 3 is gorgeous – it’s not too sporty and the digital interface is simple.

“But the app isn’t very user-friendly and takes a while to navigate. As far as calorie and exercise tracking go, I can’t fault it.

“It will tell you calories burned and how much rest time you need before exercising again, which is great for injury prevention.

“That said, I’m skeptical of its accuracy. There are generic parameters for running, walking and cycling, but not for weights.

“You also have to physically start an exercise program on the watch because it doesn’t recognize them automatically, which is annoying – you don’t want to mess with it when you’re about to cycle home from work.

“For the run it was fabulous. You don’t need to have the phone data on for it to show you a map of your run.

“Personalised training plans help you work on everything from a 5k to a marathon. Unfortunately, I haven’t rated the sleep feature.

“Quite often it would register me being in bed as being asleep, which isn’t always the case!”

BEST FOR SIMPLICITY

Fitbit Charge 5, £129 with free Premium app subscription for six months, then £7.99 per month

The Fitbit Charge 5 helps you set alarms and keeps you from sitting too long

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The Fitbit Charge 5 helps you set alarms and keeps you from sitting too longCredit: Fitbit (Argos.co.uk)

Health Editor Vanessa Chalmers says: “This hassle-free tracker monitors steps and heart rate, has 20 exercise modes, and measures stress using sweat responses.

“It reminds you to stop sitting too long, but I found the notifications irritating and turned them off (ignorance is bliss).

“You can also set wake-up alarms, but it’s not massively high-tech – for example, it will alert you to a text, but not a WhatsApp.

“However, it collects a lot of data and stores it in the app, which I found most impressive.

“It offers menstrual cycle and calorie tracking, as well as activity, stress and heart rate logs. There are also sleep guides – helping you relax, fall asleep, set and achieve sleep goals.

“Plus, there are workout videos to try, as well as recipes and nutritional tips. The watch might feel clunky.

“Browsing through different exercise modes, I had trouble getting back to the home screen.

“And the screen is small – difficult for people with large hands, but it has good battery life.

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“It’s ideal if you want to be a little healthier, but you’re not a real gym bunny.

“For a compact watch, you get what you pay for, and more if you pay extra for the app.”


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