Exercise has been an important release during lockdown, whether it’s a daily run or even just a walk around the block, it’s been a great way of getting some time outdoors and staying healthy.
Tech has also been really helpful recently. Whether it’s staying entertained or keeping in touch with family and friends, our gadgets have been more useful than ever.
And a great piece of tech that helps out with exercise is the smartwatch. Whether it’s a specced-out wearable or a simple fitness band, there’s a range of great options. Let’s take a look at what’s out there to help you find the smartwatch or fitness tracker that’s right for you.
Apple Watch 5 - £399
The latest version of the Apple Watch is a must-have if you’re an Apple addict who’s iOS everything.
Pairing up with your iPhone, the Apple Watch has loads of great features to help you stay fit, healthy and connected.
If getting fit is your current goal, the Smart Coaching feature is superb. It's like having a motivational trainer strapped to your wrist. You’ll get alerts throughout the day reminding you to stand up, move around, and start your exercise. Which is particularly helpful if, like us, you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk engrossed in your work.
You can take it further by tracking your exercises, like running, and cycling - or specific workouts like circuit classes and HIIT. You’ll get a detailed breakdown of your workout stats so you can see how you did and work out ways to improve.
The Apple Watch 5 also has a couple of stand-out health features. It has an ECG app that can detect irregular heartbeats and it also has a fall monitor, so should you suffer an accident it can quickly alert a family member.
If your ideal workout is laps in the pool, you’ll be pleased to know the Apple Watch 5 is water-resistant. So you can keep it on as you dive in, and use it to monitor your pool performance.
Of course, with an Apple Watch you can do loads of the things you’re used to doing with your iPhone without having to get it out of your pocket. You can make phone calls, check your group chats, stream some music or even get some helpful advice from Siri. It’s particularly useful if you’re going for a run and don’t want to take your iPhone out with you.
You’ll also get access to the Apple Watch’s app store. So you can load up your wrist with loads of apps from fitness favourites like Map My Run to Citymapper which will help you get around. You can even download messaging services like Whatsapp and Spotify for motivational playlists while you’re working out.
The Apple Watch 5 looks great on your wrist and with loads of straps and faces to swap and personalise, you can wear it to practically any occasion. Of course it is at the pricier end of the smartwatch spectrum, but it’s packed full of features. And if you’ve already got an iPhone, the Apple Watch makes the perfect smart accessory.
Get the Apple Watch 5 today
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active - £199
If you’re one of the many Android users who has a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Watch active is the perfect choice for you.
This piece of wearable tech partners up with your phone and helps you stay connected with the world as well as keep up with your fitness plans and mental wellbeing.
The Galaxy Watch Active makes keeping track of your exercise and wellness plans easy. It’s got a built-in monitor that automatically detects when you’re working out so you can track your blood pressure and heart rate as well as set new goals and targets.
You can even monitor your sleep quality to make sure you’re getting the right amount of rest. And if you want to improve your mindfulness, it helps out with breathing exercises to cut down stress.
And it’s got a lot more to offer than just health and fitness. When you wear the Samsung Galaxy Active Watch, you can get messages and notifications directly to your wrist by pairing your watch to your smartphone. You can even use it to control your music when you’re out and about.
There are all sorts of great apps to download from the Galaxy Store too. So you can get all your favourite playlists on Spotify or share your new personal best on Strava.
With many similar features but half the price of the Apple Watch 5, it’s hard not to put the Samsung Galaxy Active Watch ahead of it’s iOS competitor - especially if you have an Android phone. However it doesn’t currently have an ECG app or fall detection.
Get the Samsung Galaxy Active watch.
Honor Magic Watch 2 - £138.99
The Honor Magic Watch 2 has a big focus on fitness so it’s perfect for everyday exercisers.
Workout mode is a standout feature.The Honor Magic Watch 2 has a built in GPS that tracks your movements and location - and you don’t even need to connect to your smartphone to do it.
When you’re out for a run, the Magic Watch will record your pace, route, heart rate and changes in elevation. It even comes with an air-pressure app that can monitor changes in the weather as you’re out and about.
Workout mode also has settings for all sorts of other exercises like cycling, hiking, climbing, swimming and even triathlon training.
Aside from fitness features, you can use the Honor Magic Watch 2 to answer calls without having to get your phone out of your pocket. It also doubles up as a music player so you can load up your favourite songs and playlists.
You can personalise the watch face too to suit your daily style, with eight different faces to choose from.
Get the Honor Magic Watch 2
Fitbit Charge 3 - £89.99
If you’re purely after a fitness tracker, look no further than the Fitbit Charge 3 - a steal at less than £100.
The Fitbit Charge 3 is a fitness band with a huge array of features to get the best out of your workouts and help improve your general health. For a start, it can track your heart rate and figure out how many calories you’ve burned - both great ways of checking if you’ve been going hard enough in your workouts.
Track your performance when you’re running, cycling, swimming or playing sports. The ingenious SmartTrack feature automatically recognises what exercise you're doing to give you fine-tuned stats. It even pairs up with your GPS to give location information.
Keep your Fitbit Charge 3 on all day and night and you’ll get 24-hour heart rate reports. So not only can you track your activity, but you’ll also get a look at your breathing and how your body’s doing when you’re resting to give you a complete picture of your health.
Get a Fitbit Charge 3
Garmin Forerunner 35 - £124
If running is your exercise of choice and you’re always getting ready for your next marathon, the Garmin Forerunner will help you improve your personal best.
The Garmin Forerunner 35 tracks everything to do with your daily run, from how far to how fast and where you’ve been, regardless of whether you’ve been running outdoors or indoors.
There are a range of settings to maximise your run. If you’re just starting out as a runner, you’ll love the walk/run mode which gets you used to running at a pace that’s perfect for beginners. And if you’re already confident in your running and need an advanced setting, the virtual pacer means you can set a target and easily see how you’re managing it just by giving a quick glance to your wrist. And as it’s important to start and end your exercising well, there’s a warm up and warm down setting too.
Grab the Garmin Forerunner 35
Xiaomi Mi Band 4 - £25.99
The Xiaomi Mi Band is a complete bargain. And at just £25, it’s a great choice if you’re just getting into fitness and don’t want to spend a lot.
It’s great as an everyday fitness checker by recording steps taken, calories burned, the distance you’ve walked/run, your heart rate and more. It’s waterproof up to 50m too, so you can take it swimming. The battery lasts for a whole week too.
Pick up a Xiaomi Mi Band 4