ICYMI, there’s nothing like a little friendly competition with yourself (and the device on your wrist). And right now, there are countless fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market, each one with flashier and more high-tech features than the last. The year 2020 certainly had no shortage of stunners to help you track your workouts, monitor your heart rate, and offer detailed data about your fitness.
Now, fitness watches for women come pre-loaded with all kinds of offerings, designed to make your life a little easier and healthier: Track your sleep, monitor your menstrual cycle, listen to music, pay with just a tap of your wrist, jump in the water for a swim, keep stock of your stress levels, and sooo much more.
That said, while there are tons of pros to each and every watch on the market, there are *definitely* certain aspects of trackers that are absolutely essential from an exercise perspective. Which ones? Heart rate, sleep, and recovery tracking are a top priority explains Rebecca Kennedy, a Peloton instructor. “Features like steps are fun to see, but they don’t provide much context for how to approach your workouts, sleep etc.,” she says.
So yeah, if you want to buy a watch because you’re looking for insight into how your bod responds to your fitness routine–and help optimizing your workouts and rest days–it’s important to have these three features on your wrist at the very least. And TBH, even just *wearing* your fitness tracker has the potential to make you move a little bit more active IRL: People generally experience an increase in exercise and physical activity when they regularly wear fitness trackers, per a 2019 study review published in the JMIR MHealth and UHealth Journal.
Now, ready to find the best fitness tracker to meet your workout goals and needs? Check out some of the top picks of 2020, as recommended by trainers, athletes, and Women’s Health editors alike–and get ready to meet your new favorite workout buddy. (Psst! For more top-notch gear of 2020, check out the Women’s Health Fit Tech Awards.)
When it comes to smartwatches, Garmin is usually at the *top* of people’s lists. The brand’s newest (and most-affordable) version has features like a six-day battery life, GPS, music mode, pre-downloaded workout apps, and more…as in monitoring features that track energy levels, respiration, menstrual cycles, stress, sleep, your heart rate. Plus, the face is so big that you can watch all kinds of workout videos on the actual screen itself without having to squint.
- Watchable Screen
- Menstrual Tracking
- Pre-Loaded Workout Options
The latest generation is the smartest yet, featuring an upgraded, brighter “always on” technology so you can check your stats mid-plank without the screen going dark.
Like former generations of the watch, you can track your individual workouts, but, with this model, Apple also finally launched its own virtual workout platform, Fitness+, and it’s the only digital exercise experience built around the Apple Watch.
A couple of other very cool, exclusive features: It’s the only iteration to come with a Blood Oxygen app that can help you keep track of your cardio health, as well as a new Sleep app that’ll help you monitor how good your zzz’s are, actually.
- New Sleep App
- New Blood Oxygen App
- Fitness+ Compatible
This smartwatch comes loaded with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Spotify to make your everyday life just a bit easier to navigate.
Have no fear, it still offers lots of sweat-friendly apps, too: Follow along with on-screen workouts, to guide you through a challenging routine; get real-time stats about your runs and hikes; and automatically record set workouts, like swimming, running, and more.
And when it comes to sleep, this newest version of the Fitbit has electrodermal activity, which means it can track your bod’s response to things like stress and sleep quality by sensing a change in body temperature.
Additionally, this tracker has a six (or more!) day battery life, menstrual cycle tracking, and detailed sleep quality data.
- Sleep Tracking
- On-Screen Workouts
- Amazon Alexa Enabled
For the adventurous gal, this savvy watch has you covered. It’s noticeably less bulky than most other GPS watches, yet durable and designed for nature’s wear and tear. Plus the newest version of this timepiece is water-resistant up to 100 meters. The maps feature leaves a breadcrumb trail of your route as well as sunrise and sunset warnings so you can return safely from a hike or run.
Something else it’ll do? Create a workout training plan for you, based on whether you want to maintain your fitness level, boost it moderately, or really take it to the next level. The exercise guide will also readjust if you miss a sweat, and it gives feedback on your intensity based on your heart rate.
But the Suunto 9 doesn’t just monitor exercise. It’ll also track sleep and recovery, too–plus, you’ll get all the typical tracker stats like calories burned and steps.
- Trail Tracking
- Water Resistant
- Training Plans
Garmin’s new Vivoactive watch comes with ample buzzy features. To help reach your fitness goals, you can watch animated workout demos on your wrist, or train with the free Garmin run coach to prep for your next race. Prefer to set your own sweat seshes? Create your personalized workouts on Garmin Connect, then upload them to your watch.
This upgraded model also features stress tracking, which senses when you’re feeling tense, and prompts relaxation reminders and activities–like a quick breathing exercise. And for your wellness, the watch also comes loaded with hydration, menstrual cycle, and respiration tracking.
Now, you can also download music directly to your watch, so you don’t need your phone nearby to crank you workout playlist.
- On-Screen Workouts
- Stress Monitoring
- Music Storage
It’s not all about calories or distance with this fitness tracker. In fact, it emphasizes what you do after exercising. Whoop determines whether or not you’re ready to tackle your next workout–or if you need more rest–based on your heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and sleep. (A green circle means go for it; yellow means proceed with caution; red means take a rest day.) It’s also waterproof, and you still get your typical exercise stats, like calories burned.
“This is one of the most analytically accurate trackers!” says Roxie Jones, certified personal trainer. “I love that it gives you a recovery score to determine how hard you should train the next day.”
Want more rave reviews? We got you. “I love my Whoop!” Kennedy says. “It is designed simply, and it has a stretchy, comfortable fabric band and a rechargeable sensor that clips right on so you never have to take the band off.”
Basically, if you’re looking to optimize your training and recovery days and aren’t as concerned with things like GPS or a big watch face, the Whoop tracker might just be for you.
- Determines recovery goal
- Displays daily movement and exercise stats
You don’t have to worry about forgetting to record your workout with this exercise buddy–it recognizes when you’re moving.
The same goes for sleep. The corresponding app will offer insights into how much shut-eye you’re getting and in what stages you’re spending most of your zzz’s.
You can also wear this Fitbit swimming (it’s water-resistant up for 50 meters). The face clearly displays stats on heart rate, training zones, and calorie burn while you’re in the water, on the road, or working out.
Vagina-having folks can use the app to track their periods and potentially determine their more fertile days. To top it off, its battery should last about a week *and* it’s got built-in GPS.
You can interact with certain functions, like the calendar or weather apps, right on the watch, while also receiving texts, notifications, calls, and access to Spotify. And if you haven’t tried Fitbit Pay, you now have access to the watch’s built-in wallet and payment functions.
- Period tracking
- Fitbit Pay
- Built-in GPS
If you’re looking for a super-durable watch that’ll withstand tough runs while providing lots of stats, then this one is for you. It’s shock- and water-resistant (up to 100 meters) and offers info on distance, time, pace, cadence, plus provides run workouts for you to follow.
A major bonus? This watch is solar-powered, so you’ll experience tons of battery longevity. (When you’re in ‘smart watch’ mode, the device has a battery life of up to 54 days!)
A stand-out feature: Its TracBack function means it’ll lead you back home if you take a new route out on a run. Plus, you’ll get all the run stats you want from a watch, along with features like step goals and sleep monitoring. It also looks at your stress levels throughout the day, based on heart rate.
Just note: It’s a little bigger on the wrist than other devices on the list, and it can take some time to learn the interface.
- Shock- and water-resistant
- TracBack feature leads you home
- Detailed workout stats
- Monitors stress levels
Finally, Amazon has developed a way they’re entering the fitness space. Meet Halo, the company’s new membership-based fitness tracker with tons of buzzworthy features.
Halo will measure everything from your physical activity to the *tone of your voice*. Yep, the band will literally monitor your tone for energy and positivity so that you can see whether you’re raising your voice, getting stressed or angry, etc., which, is pretty freakin’ interesting.
The band will also track your body composition, allowing you to see if you’re gaining muscle, losing fat, or meeting whatever fitness goals you’re after at the moment.
Once you buy the watch and band, the membership costs roughly $3.99 per month, which isn’t too expensive considering the features you get with purchase.
- Body composition tracking
- Voice tone tracking
- Monthly membership program
This rose gold watch looks like a classy timepiece–but it consistently measures your activity, sleep, and calorie burn. It also brings your calendar, calls, weather, and workout suggestions right to your wrist.
Plus, you can connect it to your favorite apps, like Spotify for music or SmartThings for added home security. Like the Apple Watch, you have the option to turn this one into a full-on phone, complete with service for making calls and sending texts (an additional $50 fee).
- Tracks activity, sleep, and calories
- Sends workout suggestions
- Connects to a range of apps
- Functions as phone
If you’re not into wearing a fitness tracker on your wrist, this ring is a nice alternative. Even though it’s super-chic and small, the Motiv still automatically tracks your stats like steps, calories, heart rate, and sleep. And because you need the right fit for this one, you’ll get a sample of a few different sizes in the mail so you can find the best one for you.
Other perks: It also points out exactly how your movement might be benefiting your health, and it’s waterproof, but only to 165 feet (again, probably fine for swimming).
But, since there’s no screen, you need to have to check your phone to see your stats.
- Fits on your finger
- Recommends best activity for health