Thinking about getting a fitness tracker to help you manage your health? There are plenty of benefits to using a fitness tracker to help you on the path to achieving your health goals, and many fitness tracker options. Most of us are familiar with the fitness watches and clip-on technology; there are also rings and headbands, including some specifically designed for sleep. There’s something for everyone and almost every type of health-related goal.

Track physical activity

Fitness trackers help you keep track of your physical activity—the name says it all. Having that record of what you have done to get your body moving, whether it's working on your step count, getting in a yoga practice, or going for a spin class, can feel rewarding and help motivate you to keep moving even on days when you are less than inspired.

Most health trackers even provide extra motivation in the form of digital "rewards"—earning badges or competing with friends for most steps taken during the week, for example. And they can gently nudge you to get moving, with reminders to stand up every so often—some studies show that simply standing for a little bit, every 30 minutes, can help alleviate some of the health risks associated with too much sitting.

Monitor your heart health

Some fitness trackers are set up to monitor your pulse and heart rate to inform you of your heart health during exercise. Targeting specific heart rate zones during different parts of cardiovascular exercise can help maximize the benefits of the exercise. Using an activity tracker is also a great way to make sure you're getting your recommended 30 minutes of activity every day.

A fitness tracker that is equipped for heart rate monitoring can also alert you to potential heart concerns. While the sensors on wearable tech are not quite medical grade, you can use them to monitor your resting heart rate and see if you may need to talk with your doctor about a possible heart rhythm disorder.

Sleep tracking

If you're looking to improve your sleep, using a fitness tracker can help. While nothing can replace a medical sleep study for determining your exact sleep patterns, a health tracker with sleep monitoring technology uses sensors to detect your heart rate and heart rate variability, which can indicate whether you’re asleep or awake.

Some studies show that, while fitness trackers are not as accurate as a full sleep study with EEG monitoring, they can be used to identify general patterns in your sleep habits and help inform your doctor if you’re concerned about your sleep. Many doctors note, however, that if you are feeling anxious about your sleep, using a fitness tracker may add to your anxiety.

Connect with other health apps

There are a wide range of health-related apps available for smart phones—and many of them can connect with your wearable fitness tracker for easy, on-the-go record keeping. Check off that item on your habit tracker, log your water in a hydration tracker, or track a workout all from your wrist.

Mindfulness tools on the go

If you're experiencing a moment of anxiety or irritation, many fitness trackers have mindfulness apps integrated for quick meditation or breathing sessions. You can even set up a daily reminder for a mindfulness moment, and some even include breathing pattern visualizations to guide you.

Some models track a person’s stress using your heart rate and heart rate variability—much as these metrics can indicate a person is sleeping, they can also indicate someone is feeling stressed out. The wearable can then alert you and encourage you to use a mindfulness app or go for a short walk to help alleviate some of the physical symptoms of stress.

So which fitness tracker should you use?

As with many things, the best fitness tracker is the one that you will use. The first place to start is determining what you really want out of a fitness tracker. After that, looking up reviews from trusted review sites can help—most will list the prices, at least at time of publication, to help stay within your budget. You can also ask friends or family members if they use a fitness tracker and what they like and don't like about their particular device.

For more health and wellness tips, visit the Lifespan Living blog.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.