Fitness trackers review - how useful do you find them?

It’s estimated at least 2 million Australians use fitness trackers, utilising them to do everything from calculate the latest amount of calorie burn to joining an online fitness community via the fitness tracker’s app.

There’s a fairly wide range of price and functionality with currently available fitness trackers. Basic options can start at under $50, while a fully specced smartwatch offers high-tech monitoring and can also perform many functions of a modern smartphone. We compare 19 different devices - if you’re interested, members can see the results in our fitness tracker review.

For more info on trackers and what functionality is on offer, we also have a free fitness tracker buying guide. And here are some of the trackers that performed worse in our test (generally in how accurate they are), although as you’ll see even these didn’t score too badly overall.

Do you use a fitness tracker?

If you already own a fitness tracker, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the pros and cons of of the device. Here’s a few questions to kick off:

  • Does your fitness tracker help you achieve your fitness goals? If so, is there any particular function that really has an impact e.g. prompting you take more steps via the app interface, or providing extra motivation via the ‘gamification’ of fitness activities.

  • Do you link your app and activities to fitness communities, such as Strava, Fitbit or Apple health? Does this ‘social media’ approach to health have any pros or cons?

  • What activities do you use fitness trackers for? Are there any that work better than others, for example accuracy walking vs riding a bike.

  • What would you like to see improve about fitness trackers?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts. Please feel free to expand on the above with your experience.


I use a Garmin Vivosmart4 on Andriod

I primarily use it for steps, sleep, heart rate, floors, intensity minutes. I worked on my quality of sleep by tweaking behaviours (caffeine, light, exercise etc) and challenged myself to do 10k steps a day, 150 intensity minutes a week. I occasionally check Insights which ranks me against my age group (I am doing better than most, but would like to compare more activities). I like being able to graph, and overlay heart rate on steps etc. The colour shows the intensity of the activity.

No. I don’t share or participate in groups or challenges, or appear on heat maps.

I bought on Choice testing for accuracy. Things that are not so good:

  • Stairs - flights of stairs are calculated at 10 foot per flight using a barometer. I live in a high-set house on a hill, but even that cannot account for an average 41 flights a day (greater than 99% of all others my age). My Garmin Vivosmart3 did the same. Maybe I do that many inclines?

  • VO2 Max - the formula it uses does not give an accurate reading (for me). You must do at least 15min walking at 4+km/hr to register. VO2 Max is usually calculated on oxygen over a mile run or fast walk, but Garmin uses heart rate and exercise. It rates me as Poor & 20 years older than I am. My walking is done in hilly and rough terrain.

  • Intensity Minutes - I noticed the fitter I got, the less intensity minutes I registered. This is a product of the formula used - I can be sweating and panting, but register nothing.

  • Walking Accuracy - It is spot on, except when I have the backpack sprayer on and I am pumping the handle or swinging the wand (but I can live with that).

I would like to get access to my accumulated data. At present I can view daily detail, then weekly, monthly, one year summaries. I can see records, even if years ago eg Most Steps in a Day was from 2018, but I can’t see 2018 graphs or data.
Only does Calories, would like kj but I don’t use that feature and have not linked to other apps.
Relies on BlueTooth, and I find I have to turn it off and on again on my Android to get it to connect. My internet is slow so the connect and update data to phone relies on uploading through the satellite NBN, so there is a wait for daily data to display.
The band is robust enough, display customisable, bright enough, battery lasts long enough between charges. Quite happy with it.

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When I had Endomondo and was more actively tracking I used tapiirik to sync data with Strava which had a different set of visualisations.

Tapiirik is bare bones open source app that still supports many different providers but I know of but haven’t tested other syncing apps which provide more of the visualisation summaries you’re looking for.

The automatic syncing is charged though.

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I bought a Fit Bit Charge 4 on Sunday 27th Nov.22. - they are Owned by Google.
It was bought to ‘track my steps’ and ‘review some of the other functionalities’…
I have found that it’s tracking of steps is accurate.
Heart Rate BPM seems okay & Oxygen.
the Sleep times & scores can be a bit out,
I don’t use the ‘FitBit Communities’ and I have NOT taken up Access to the ‘6 months Free Premium App’ bcoz it wants my Credit Card details & you have to agree to allow Google have access to all of your Info. - which is just another way for Google to ONSELL your Info…
The TEXT on the Watch face is too small - after using for a few weeks, you are accustomed -BUT, it sBe larger…
yes, it does make you do MORE STEPS…

My partner has a Garmin Venue Sq. A better device than the similar priced FitBits it replaced.
Handy for the mobile phone synced notifications, basic health reporting and activity tracking. Considering carrying the mobile around the house is not always practical, and reception is often nil in some parts. Who wants to have to get up to look at the latest SMS ping from two rooms away. It’s probably I calling up from Woolies asking why the dinner rolls are not with all the other fresh bakery products.

Best to choose one with long battery life, nearly a week for the Garmin. Whatever the daily use made, any living up to the health hypes if they and need removing and charging every day. Especially important for the sleep tracking functions.

As a bonus also useful when our mum was in aged care, and calls could come 24x7. A casual quick glance at the wrist enough to realise it was/is worth getting up rather than fumble for the phone, or just nod back to sleep. An added benefit is if you switch the mobile to silent the tracker can still stir you without waking your partner.

Still using my Apple Watch 5 and it still does what I need it to. I use third party apps for sleep tracking, my steps arent enough to call it fitness. I like to keep track of air quality and weather and my August smartlock can be unlocked by asking Siri to deal with it, if I’m not unconscious frm a fall. If I am, then it will alert 000 and my specified contacts to do something. My contacts have been invited to the lock as guests and can open the door for emergency services if required. I have a lot of apps on board most of which I don’t use, ut I am planning to start riding my exercise bike when I clean out the junk from that room, and the watch has a workout app and one of the sub-apps is for exercise bike. I have never had a moment of regret over swapping my fitbit for the AW.

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