Today's wearables can do much more than monitor your daily steps and kilojoules burned. Some fitness trackers are smart watches that can help track when you've hit REM, your heart rate, distances covered when swimming or biking, the number of floors you climbed—the list goes on.
However, with so many health and fitness wearables available on the market, it can be hard to know which one to buy.
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) recently conducted a survey of leading fitness experts to get their verdicts on the best ones for everything from weight loss to sleep monitoring.
The Apple Watch topped the list in the Overall Performance category, with 24.2% of votes, followed closely by the Garmin Watch with 22.5% of the vote.
The Fitbit Watch came in at No.3, with the Samsung Galaxy Watch at No.4 and Whoop Strap at No.5.
Across key capability categories, the Apple Watch was voted the best wearable for weight loss, user friendliness and form and comfort, while the Garmin Watch topped the categories for improving overall fitness, and learning to run/improving running performance. In terms of sleep monitoring, the Whoop Strap was ranked No.1.
The AIF survey follows 2020 search data analysis by comparison service Uswitch, which found that Australia has one of the highest search volumes for health apps in the world.
Uswitch revealed that Australia’s search volume per capita put it at the top of the list of countries most concerned about tracking health data.
Australian Institute of Fitness CEO Steve Pettit said: “Health and fitness wearables represent the largest growing sector in the fitness industry. The amount and depth of data that can be obtained from them is incredible, and information that was once only accessible to the most elite athletes is quickly becoming easily available and digestible to the everyday Australian.
“Wearable data is empowering people of all ages and fitness levels to improve their health, fitness and general well-being like never before. They are also giving us much more oversight and insight into what is going on with our bodies day-to-day, so it will be interesting to see if this results in any improvements in broader health categories - for example, in obesity and chronic disease rates.”
More user education needed
Despite growing demand, 87.5% of AIF’s survey respondents believed that most Australian consumers don’t understand and/or utilise the depth of the capabilities of their wearable health and fitness devices.
The survey’s overwhelming consensus was that wearable users could unlock much more potential to help them optimise their health, fitness and performance if they were better informed on how to utilise their device.
Head of Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness, Kate Kraschnefski, said: “Many users don’t fully understand how HR training zones - which are a staple of many health and fitness wearables - can provide real-time feedback regarding the intensity and energy systems targeted within their session.
“For endurance enthusiasts, utilising this function properly is like having a personal trainer running right beside you telling you exactly how hard you're working and whether you need to put the pedal to the metal, or pull the gas off a little."