Far from the glorified pedometers they once were, the latest activity trackers log everything from sleep patterns to sweat rate and compile your stats on smart-device apps to keep you motivated. We tested the most promising.
We're not always fans of all-day wristbands, unless we're talking cheeky vintage sports fashion. But the Nike+ FuelBand's function is a lot more important than its form. And frankly, after learning more about it, we're happy to wear one. The "set it and forget it" product, available in three wrist sizes, works more simply than a Ron Popeil invention. You just put it on, and, with a built-in accelerometer, it simply tracks everything (physical) that you do. You know the words: "Every move you make, every step you..." It's as if Sting made a fitness gadget, only it's not ridiculous and focused on stalking people or tantric sex (although it works in every conceivable situation).
We love how it keeps you on target, ensuring that you're aware you're improving your fitness as long as you use your body – for parkour, break-dancing, playing hoops, or simply helping someone cross the street. To get a sense of your progress there's a button on the band for you to tap. That triggers LEDs to light up, signifying the sum total of how many paces you've walked, miles you've traveled, and calories you've incinerated. These are also calculated and processed into one Nike-specific unit of measurement: NikeFuel. Set a goal in the morning, and this water-resistant band – as well as its accompanying iPhone app that connects via Bluetooth – will let you know if you've hit your mark along with providing graphs of what you've accomplished throughout the day. NikeFuel can also be used to compete against other friends with Nike+ devices over the Nike+ online community. And, just like you, the FuelBand comes with a rechargeable battery. Only this one lasts at least 96 hours.
One con is that it won't count the poundage of those heavy kale-and-salmon-filled grocery bags you use for dumbbell curls on the uphill walk home from Whole Foods. But that thirst for knowledge some of us have can, at times, become a little too strong, like a gym addict's arms, and we'd rather just know we're getting something done, as long as it helps. [$149, store.nike.com]