Being on the go from running can make it difficult for athletes to monitor their stats. Activity trackers are professional devices which can fulfill this job, making sure athletes are on the right track during their running, cycling, and sometimes swimming.
Activity trackers come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult for runners to choose the right one.
Two of the most well-known brands currently on the market are Fitbit and Polar. Both manufacturers produce high-quality products, but could one be better for runners than another?
What is an Activity Tracker & How Can it Help My Running?
An activity tracker is a wearable computer or device which goes around the risk. It is able to monitor the wearer’s movement and can be customized to include the user’s basic statistics, such as height and weight. View more about the history of activity trackers here.
Many activity trackers will record important information like heart rate, calories burnt, and distance moved.
Why is this Important:
In general, humans need to move a significant amount to remain healthy. Time Magazine accumulated and analyzed the results of several different medical studies from around the world and found the recommended number of steps an adult should take is between 10,000 and 15,000 a day.
 Below 5,000 steps is when an individual’s health starts to suffer.
 Most runners meet this statistic, but might want to keep track of their movement for other important reasons.
In particular, it’s difficult to improve as an athlete when you don’t know the specifics about your activity levels. Many people who engage in physical activities want to know how fast they’re going, how much distance they have covered, and whether or not they are getting better.
Here is where an activity tracker comes in handy. These devices remember a person’s information and can help runners keep track of vital statistics so they can make progress. Without one, athletes have to rely on their own perceptions, which can be horribly skewed.
In particular, most activity trackers can help runners learn their heart rate, which lets them know if they are running too hard or not hard enough. Live Fitness demonstrates how people can figure out their maximum safe and healthy heart rate.
 All you have to do is subtract your age from 220.
Using this formula, a 20 year old is alright bringing their rate up to 200, but a 40 year old should only go to 180 or they risk causing problems. The activity tracker can monitor this and other levels of fitness. It additionally gives people a basis on which they can improve, so it will record average statistics and people can then try to do better.
Because of all of these benefits, more and more companies have emerged in the last twenty years to product activity trackers. With so many brands and models available, shopping can be difficult.
Here’s what you need to know about Fitbit and Polar to determine which one would be right for your workout.
- PurePulse continuous, automatic wrist based heart rate tracking to better measure calorie burn all day
- Maximize your workouts using simplified heart rate zones (Fat Burn, Cardio and Peak). Splash proof. Do not shower with the device or submerge it in water
- See call, text and calendar notifications on the OLED display; Automatically track how long and how well you sleep and wake with a silent vibrating alarm. Reminders to move
- Get a better understanding of your fitness level and see how you can improve over time with a personalized Cardio Fitness Score; Use Connected GPS during run mode to see real time stats like pace and distance on your wrist
- Track all day activity like steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes; Find moments of calm throughout your day with personalized guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate, Like all heart rate tracking technologies, accuracy is affected by physiology, location of device, and different movements
Fitbit opened in 2007 and is the main company people think about when they imagine activity trackers.
Many people even call all trackers “fitbits” without realizing the distinction. The firm operates out of San Francisco and releases a couple of different models of trackers usually every year.
Because the firm creates so many trackers, there is a lot of variety available. Most devices cost between $60 and $300 depending on how many features are included.
For this review, we focus on the Fitbit Charge 2 because it continues to be the most popular model and is considered one of the best-rounded trackers from the company.
The Fitbit Charge 2 costs roughly $150 and comes in a variety of colors so users can customize their wrist decoration.
It tracks numerous features, including a person’s distance moved, calories burned, floors climbed, and sleep stages. For exercise, it records a person’s heart rate, cardio fitness level, and includes a built-in GPS.
It will remind people to move if they have been sitting still for too long.
The Charge 2 also has some basic communication functions, similar to technologically advanced watches. People can call, text, and receive calendar alerts without needing to check their phones.
The battery lasts up to 5 days and the tracker is water-resistant but shouldn’t be worn when swimming.
Fitbits tend to have larger screens than some trackers but focuses on creating streamlined devices which won’t irritate a user’s wrist, which makes them popular. The following video demonstrates how the Charge 2 can be worn and some of the benefits of using it.
- Optical heart rate monitor - continuous, accurate heart rate without a chest strap via a 6 LED optical sensor
- Integrated GPS - running watch tracks speed, distance, pace and routes. Display resolution: 128 x 128
- 24/7 activity tracking - Track your daily activity, including steps, calories and sleep with the guidance to help you reach your activity goal
- Vibration alerts - be alerted with vibrating notifications of incoming calls, messages or during training and periods of inactivity
- Rechargeable Battery - three different GPS watch recording options to choose from allow for 8 hours to nearly 30 hours of training time. Rechargeable 240 mAh lithium polymer battery
Polar opened many decades ago and was the first company to design a heart rate monitor that could be used by athletes while exercising. The firm continues to manufacture activity trackers and operates out of Finland, where it ships devices around the world.
It produces many different products based on an individual’s needs and interests.
Polar devices cost between $80 and $500, so there is a lot of variety for potential clients. One of the most popular models is the Polar M430, which was designed with runners in mind. It costs between $150 and $200 and comes in a variety of colors.
It should be noted that the tracker is on the heavier side and typically weights 11 oz. when worn.
According to Polar.com, unlike many other trackers, the M430 relies on physical buttons instead of a touchscreen so it is easier for wearers to use. The display is large and rounded so people can read it even while moving.
It has a battery life of up to 2 weeks or 8 hours when the GPS is on, as well as a heart rate monitor and calorie counter. It additionally features an accelerometer, which can track a person’s movement while they are running in place or indoors.
The Polar M430 also tracks basic stats like a person’s height, weight, and general workout averages. It does display the time and date, and workouts can be saved to look at later. It comes with a USB so information can be ported to a separate device such as a computer.
This device is waterproof and can be used while swimming, cycling, running, and most other physical activities.
Polar vs Fitbit Comparison:
So, how do these trackers look when compared to one another? Because it can be difficult to read all of this information and make a decision, here is a handy chart that shows some of the pros and cons of the models.
As you can see, Fitbit and Polar share a lot of similar features. For many runners, which tracker is the better choice is going to come down to personal preference.
The Fitbit is better at recording daily activities and tends towards lightweight, while also having communication functions.
Polar tends to be focused more on exercise and is heavier, with longer battery life and more waterproofing. These devices are able to withstand the elements more easily but won’t usually track daily activities.
They also are more expensive, which can dissuade some people. However, its heart monitor is considered more reliable.
Conclusion: Fitbit Charge 2 vs Polar M430
So, what should you buy? Based on an honest comparison, it will all come down to what you feel comfortable wearing. If you’re someone who wants a reliable activity tracker, then either manufacturer will have plenty of devices to suit your needs.
When making a decision, focus on a couple of basic facts. First, what is your lifestyle like? Do you want the tracker to only monitor you during exercise, or do you want something to keep track of daily activities?
Second, what is comfortable around your wrist? Many people neglect this aspect, but it’s important to find something you don’t mind wearing every time you work out. If you don’t like it, you won’t wear it!
Third, remember your budget and choose something appropriate. It can be tempting to buy the most technologically advanced model, but you might not need it. If you only run a couple of times a week, do you really need a device that lets you make calls.
Keeping all of this in mind, good luck with your future choice!
Last update on 2023-01-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API