Is It Worth Investing in a Sports Watch Like Garmin and Fitbit?

Some dude wearing a sports watch

Depending upon where you live, your current fitness options likely don’t include the gym or that Pilates class you used to love to go to. No, with the world under lockdown due to coronavirus, your best options for exercise are–in jurisdictions that allow it–walking or jogging outside. Which means now more than ever is the time to buy a sports watch or fitness tracker!

Without question, some of the best fitness trackers today are made by giants like Garmin and Fitbit. Millions of people currently choose sports watches from these two companies because they are so well known. But alternatives exist, and newcomers to the market require some research to determine which is the best fitness tracker available. Depending on your fitness needs and goals, the one you choose may differ from someone else’s. However, learning more about the various sports watches available today can certainly help you make the best decision.

A Little History About Sports Watches

Believe it or not, sports watches didn’t even exist 2 decades ago. A runner might have worn their Timex or used a stopwatch depending on the type of run they chose. But things we consider to be sport watches today only emerged after smartphones and mobile devices appeared. These technological developments are what enabled companies like Garmin and Fitbit to develop fitness trackers that could be worn on the wrist. And these same 2 companies continue to dominate the market with some of the best fitness trackers around.

Garmin has actually been around the longest. Founded in 1989, Garmin began as a GPS navigation product company. In fact, it remains the leader in GPS technologies today worldwide. But once Apple and Google began offering GPS apps with their devices, Garmin decided to shift gears a bit. In 2003, Garmin decided to create sports watches to benefit runners that could track miles, pace, and more. Garmin enjoyed a market with little competition at the time until Fitbit decided to launch its company in 2007. Seeing a need for more affordable fitness tracking devices, Fitbit found its own niche in the sports watches’ industry.

Garmin and Fitbit Sports Watches Today

Since the mid-2000s, both companies have come a long way. Both Garmin and Fitbit now offer a variety of sports watches that range in both price and features. Standard features for most of these fitness trackers provide data regarding steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and even sleep information. But some options offer more extensive amenities like heart rate monitoring, elevation, and location tracking. And both companies recently released their own version of a smart watch that attempts to compete with Apple and others. Without question, Garmin and Fitbit both offer some of the best fitness trackers made today.

While Garmin and Fitbit share many things in common, there are notable differences between their products. For example, Garmin is better recognized for its GPS features and now offers specialized apps for a wide variety of sports activities. In addition, Garmin has invested heavily in apps. Some of its devices now offer music streaming, Garmin pay services, and customizable data screens. In contrast, Fitbit’s sport watches tend to be sleeker and more fashionable in design, and they are overall more affordable. And Fitbit has invested more into its software development, which helps add features without dramatically raising the price tag. These are the types of features that many consider when choosing the best fitness tracker to meet their needs.

But What About Other Fitness Tracker Alternatives?

Before you go spending your hard-earned money on a fitness tracker, there are some alternatives. If you don’t mind carrying your smartphone around in a sports sleeve, several low-cost apps may work well for you. Notably, Nike Run Club’s Nike+ app is used by many for this purpose. Likewise, Apple’s own activity tracker may suffice depending on the fitness data features you need. Plus, having your smartphone with you naturally allows you to stay connected to messages, phone, and your music library. If this isn’t such a hassle for you, then investing in an expensive fitness tracker may not be needed.

With this said, the latest sports watches offered by Garmin and Fitbit now provide many “smart” features. For example, Fitbit has partnered with Strava so the Strava app can be accessed on its fitness tracker device. Garmin now lets you stream music on its latest version using Spotify. And Apple Watch has significantly advanced its fitness features while allowing access to many smartphone apps without your phone around. For those who want to exercise without their phone, an investment into these types of sports watches may be worthwhile.

The Bottom Line: Which Is the Best Fitness Tracker Option for You?

Like many purchase decisions, different people will have different needs and wants in determining which product is best. This certainly applies when trying to determine which is the best fitness tracker for you. Understanding this, the following are key aspects you will want to consider when choosing which fitness tracker is ideal.

  • Features – Sports watches and fitness apps have a wide variety of fitness tracking offerings. Not everyone wants a heart rate monitor or altimeter. And some may find a water proof device or GPS tracker as essential. Knowing which features you want can help you narrow down your list of the best fitness trackers for you.
  • Planned Usage – If you are committed to a weekly exercise plan, then making an investment in such a purchase may be reasonable. Likewise, if you are a premier athlete looking to enhance performance, the same applies. And if sports watches that can be worn for non-fitness activities is desired, this also changes which ones may be the best for you.
  • Convenience and Affordability – Naturally, everyone has a different budget when it comes to purchasing a fitness tracker. Fortunately, a wide range of options in price exist from apps on your smartphone to high-end sports watches. Likewise, some individuals won’t mind taking their smartphone along with them, while others find this cumbersome. These additional factors should also be considered when choosing the best fitness tracker for you.

When it comes to purchasing sports watches, it is important to do your due diligence in exploring your fitness needs. Not everyone needs to invest in an expensive fitness tracker as a number of other alternatives exist. But for many, the investment is worthwhile and enhances their fitness activities and experience. Though many options exist today, a little research and a good understanding of your preferences will go a long way. Using this as a guide, you will be likely to find the best fitness tracker to meet your specific fitness needs.

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