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(Credit: Ian Moore)
If you need some guidance and motivation on your health and fitness journey, there’s no shortage of smart devices and mobile apps that promise to help.
The health and fitness technology market includes everything from meditation and workout apps to wearables, connected home gym equipment, Wi-Fi-enabled bathroom scales, and more. These technologies can help you reach a range of goals such as losing weight, lowering your stress level, sleeping better, boosting your immunity, elevating your mood, or improving your nutrition.
It’s not an exaggeration to say these technologies can be a true blessing. When gyms across the country shut down due to COVID-19, health and fitness tech helped many of us (including me) stay sane at home in quarantine. But with so many options to choose from, it can be tough to find what works, and that’s where we come in. Our mission is to help you make the most informed buying decisions, which is why we exhaustively test every product and analyze its strengths, weaknesses, and value compared with the competition.
As a yoga teacher and PCMag’s fitness expert, I get to review all the latest smart health technologies, and some of the recent innovations I’ve seen are truly impressive. But not every product is a winner, and not every good product is the right fit for everyone.
In this story, we highlight some of the best health and fitness products and software you can use right now, as well as explore some of the more promising technologies on the horizon. If a product catches your eye, be sure to check out its full review.
The Best Smart Home Gym Equipment Deals This Week*
*Deals are selected by our commerce team
Smart Home Gym Equipment
Not a huge fan of the gym, or just too lazy to get your butt out of bed and travel there in the morning? Or maybe you’re less than comfortable with the idea of breathing heavily in a confined public space.
No worries. Thanks to the plethora of smart home fitness equipment available today, you don’t need to go to the gym to get lean and make gains. But what makes fitness equipment smart, and why pay extra for it? At the most basic level, smart home gym equipment connects to the internet. Most machines have a screen to stream workouts, but some work with a companion app to let you view classes on your phone or TV.
Smart fitness machines usually aren’t cheap. Most of our favorites come in around at least $1,000. High-end treadmills like the NordicTrack Commercial 2950 are among the priciest, and can easily run you $3,000 or more. When budgeting for a smart fitness machine, don’t forget to include the membership fee in your calculations. They all require a subscription (typically between $29 and $39 per month) to access workout classes and other premium features.
For their high cost, smart fitness devices allow for a whole other level of interactivity than their more affordable, non-connected counterparts. Most offer large on-demand libraries of guided classes with knowledgeable instructors, as well as customized workouts and programs based on your goals and current fitness level. Many machines also feature live classes with competitive leaderboards, giving you an extra jolt of motivation to run, row, or cycle your way to victory. This also fosters a sense of community, making it feel like you’re not working out alone. And if you’re new to the world of fitness or just getting back into it after a period of inactivity, rest assured that many of the latest machines offer beginner-friendly workouts and guidance for newbies.
SoulCycle At-Home Bike (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
In 2020, the Peloton Bike+ was in a league of its own compared with other smart exercise bikes. Now, it has a few well-stacked competitors, including the SoulCycle At-Home Bike and the MYX II.
Featuring a sleek and sturdy steel frame with a 21.5-inch touch screen, the SoulCycle At-Home Bike’s heart-pumping, inspirational classes will have you sweating as you work to master choreography moves while simultaneously spinning the pedals beneath your feet to the beat of music. Whereas the Peloton Bike+ motivates you through metrics and competition, SoulCycle offers a more meditative, dance-centric experience.
The MYX II offers a Peloton-like experience and focuses on heart rate training. All three bikes give you access to a range of floor-based workouts to supplement your cycling sessions, but as a bonus, the SoulCycle At-Home Bike also supports Disney+ and Netflix.
FightCamp (Credit: Brenda Stolyar)
If you don’t enjoy cycling or find it to be a literal pain in the butt (a problem newbies encounter with any stationary bike; padded shorts help), there are plenty of other options. Our favorites for cardio include the Peloton Tread, the best connected treadmill for small spaces; FightCamp, a connected home boxing gym that tracks your punches in real time and nudges you to reach a specific goal; and the NordicTrack RW900 rowing machine, which stands out because of its library of outdoor, trainer-led workouts filmed on waterways around the world.
If you’re looking to make gains, we suggest the Tempo Studio and Tonal, two smart strength-training machines. They both feature large touch screens on which you can browse and play workouts led by experienced instructors who walk you through each move. It’s like having a full gym’s worth of strength training equipment—and a virtual personal trainer—in your home. Both keep track of how much weight you should be lifting, count your reps, and offer feedback about your form. They offer plenty of classes, including beginner-friendly workouts and programs.
Forme Studio (Credit: Ali Jaber)
If you’re more into bodyweight exercises such as yoga and pilates, check out a fitness mirror like the Forme Studio or the Mirror. Both are particularly compelling if you’re short on space because you can mount them to a wall; they look just like regular mirrors when they are off. During a class, you can see the instructor as well as your reflection in the mirror, which makes it easy to check your form.
Smart home gym equipment can be expensive, but growing competition is causing prices to drop. The Peloton Guide is part of a new generation of more affordable smart strength training machines, including the Tempo Move and the Alexa-controlled NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells. As you work out with the Guide, you see your image on the screen alongside the instructor, so you can compare your form in real time. The device keeps track of which muscle groups you worked and recommends classes accordingly, to help you round out your training.
Peloton Guide (Credit: Ali Jaber)
The Tempo Move offers a similar smart strength training experience as the Tempo Studio at a fraction of the price by working with your television and iPhone. It suggests the appropriate weight you should be lifting for each move, counts your reps, and offers real-time form feedback.
For more, see our picks for the best smart fitness equipment, the best smart exercise bikes, and the best smart strength training equipment.
With a rotating screen and a new Auto Follow feature for automatic resistance adjustments, the Peloton Bike+ is a compelling upgrade over its predecessor, and the best smart indoor cycling bike you can buy.
With a focus on riding in step with the beat of music while working to master choreography moves, the SoulCycle At-Home Bike offers fun and challenging workouts that combine cardio and strength training with elements of dance and meditation.
If you can afford it, the Peloton Bike brings a high-tech spin class right to your home with sleek hardware, streaming live classes, and integration with your favorite fitness apps.
It doesn’t have live classes and leaderboards, but MYX Fitness is an excellent and competitively priced Peloton Bike alternative that focuses on personalized heart rate zone training.
With the same top-notch workout classes and a smaller design, the Peloton Tread is a more practical and wallet-friendly version of its problematic larger sibling, and the best connected treadmill for small spaces.
NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill
The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 is hefty in size and price, but it’s one of the most sophisticated treadmills on the market, with a vast iFit streaming workout library and the ability to automatically adjust your incline and speed.
FightCamp is a connected home boxing gym that offers hundreds of on-demand classes on your phone or tablet. Its unique punch-tracking technology keeps you motivated to get the most out of your workouts.
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine
With its 22-inch HD touch screen and vast library of outdoor, studio, and Google Maps-based iFit workouts, the NordicTrack RW900 rowing machine is an excellent choice for beginner, intermediate, and advanced rowers alike.
Combining top-of-the-line equipment with live streaming workouts, the Hydrow is expensive, but it’s one of the most luxurious smart rowing machines you can buy.
Though less luxurious than its premium sibling, the Hydrow Wave smart rowing machine offers access to the same fantastic workout streaming platform at a more reasonable price.
With its sophisticated form-tracking and rep-counting software, challenging on-demand and live classes, and excellent trainers, the Tempo Studio is the best smart strength training machine we’ve tested.
The Tonal system isn’t cheap, but it’s like having a full gym’s worth of strength training equipment—and a virtual personal trainer—in your home.
The Mirror is an interactive fitness device that’s like having your own private gym. With thousands of classes to choose from, you can exercise in the comfort of your home without sacrificing a lot of space.
The Forme Studio workout mirror offers a more immersive home fitness experience than competitors, with a 4K touch screen that makes it feel like the trainer is right there with you.
Featuring immersive games, fun competitions, and YouTube, the Aviron smart rowing machine successfully combats workout boredom and will leave you excited to get back on day after day.
The Peloton Guide is a camera that connects to your TV and lets you see yourself on the screen as you work out, with motivating movement tracking and personalized class recommendations that make strength training fun.
The Tempo Move strength training machine has some limitations and requires you to own several peripherals, but otherwise offers a fun, effective virtual personal training experience at an accessible price.
Workout Apps and Streaming Services
We know that most people don’t have a few thousand extra dollars to drop on a smart fitness machine. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable (or free!) workout apps and streaming services that can help you along, whether you’re a beginner just starting your fitness journey or a seasoned athlete who wants to start a new training schedule.
FitOn and Nike Training Club are two excellent resources if you’re on a tight budget. FitOn offers free on-demand workout videos with celebrity trainers including Julianne Hough and Jonathan Van Ness, and it supports heart rate monitors so you can compete on leaderboards with other participants. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nike removed the subscription fee for its Training Club app, which features a wide selection of workouts ranging from less than 20 minutes to an hour, including boxing, HIIT, strength, yoga, and more.
Some of our favorite paid options include Apple Fitness+, Beachbody On Demand, and Forte.
Fitness+ is a compelling at-home and on-the-go workout companion that features a variety of studio-style classes you can stream on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. It offers floor-based workouts such as core, dance, HIIT, strength, and yoga, which require just a set of dumbbells or no equipment at all. It can also guide you at the gym, with structured cycling, rowing, strength, and treadmill workouts.
Monthly access to Fitness+ costs less than a single class at most fitness studios. For $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, it offers a steady stream of heart-pumping 5- to 45-minute classes with high-quality playlists and a diverse set of instructors who help motivate you.
Openfit (Credit: Openfit)
Beachbody On Demand(Opens in a new window), which works on Android, iOS, Roku, and several other platforms, gives you unlimited access to more than 350 live and on-demand fitness classes a week, as well as nutrition plans for $14.99 a month. Forte(Opens in a new window) is a web platform that lets you stream live, unedited workouts from studios around the world for $39 per month, including JoyRide Cycling in Connecticut, Powerumba in Miami, Centered City Yoga in Salt Lake City, and Rise Dance Studio in New York City.
Obe(Opens in a new window) is another fitness app making waves. We haven’t tested it yet, but it offers a regular schedule of live classes every day, plus thousands of on-demand workouts covering everything from barre, cardio boxing, and HIIT, to pilates, sculpt, and yoga for $27 per month.
Head over to the best workout apps for more.
Fitness+ is a compelling at-home and on-the-go workout companion featuring a variety of studio-style classes with excellent music and instruction you can stream on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.
Fitness trackers are good for more than just monitoring your steps, sleep, and workouts: The best ones motivate you to get moving and encourage you to meet your goals. These devices focus more closely on your health than smartwatches, but many still include some helpful lifestyle features such as mobile payment support and streaming music controls. They also tend to have much longer battery life than smartwatches.
Before I started using them, I was a skeptic; naturally active, I thought of fitness trackers as an unnecessary (and unsightly) investment. But after testing them, I’ve gained so much useful knowledge about myself and my body—information that has motivated me to make positive life changes.
Knowing my heart rate zones helps me work out more efficiently. Noticing that yoga, my preferred and primary form of exercise, doesn’t always get my heart rate up to my target zone has prodded me to add cardio sessions into my schedule a couple of times a week. If I see I’m short of my daily step goal, I’ll do another lap around the park when I walk my dog, which benefits both of us. And I find it easier to pass on a nightcap now that know how even a few alcoholic drinks negatively impact my sleep.
Garmin Lily (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
I’m happy to have found several recent fitness trackers that balance function and form, with sleek, attractive designs that I actually want to wear. The Garmin Lily, which has a fashionable, jewelry-like design, comes to mind. It lacks built-in GPS for pace and distance tracking without your phone, but it can monitor health stats such as your blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), breathing, calories burned, energy level, heart rate, sleep, steps, and stress.
Fitbit Charge 5 (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
The most value-rich fitness tracker on the market right now is the Fitbit Charge 5, which offers top-notch fitness, sleep, and stress-tracking features that can help you stay motivated to meet your workout goals, get to bed earlier, and incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. It has an always-on color touch screen, a slim metal case, and several useful health and lifestyle features that aren’t available on its less expensive siblings, the style-focused Luxe or the entry-level Inspire 2, including built-in GPS, the ability to measure your stress and heart rhythm, and mobile payment support.
For outdoor athletes, the Coros Apex is a solid choice for biking, hiking, running, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, and triathlons. It tracks distance, elevation, heart rate, heart rate zone, pace, stride, time, training effects, and more. Its app even offers beautiful graphs to help you interpret the data, along with actionable insights about how to improve your training.
For mountain training, we recommend the Polar Grit X multisport GPS watch, which offers a wealth of outdoor-specific features including refueling advice for long training sessions and events, route planning, and uphill and downhill stats. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who likes to cycle, hike, mountain bike, participate in endurance events, run on trails, ski, or snowboard. The Polar Flow companion app tracks your progress, motivates you to get moving, and offers insights to help you train more efficiently.
Apple Watch SE (2022) (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
Some of our favorite smartwatch models for fitness tracking include the Apple Watch SE and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. The Apple Watch SE offers a robust suite of wellness tools, including Apple’s motivating Activity, Exercise, and Stand rings, as well as integration with the company’s Fitness+ workout streaming service. The Galaxy Watch 5 supports more than 90 different activities; everything from walking and running to aqua aerobics and hang gliding. Both can automatically detect certain types of workouts, including walking, running, elliptical usage, rowing, and swimming.
For more, see the best fitness trackers, the best fitness trackers for running, the best waterproof fitness trackers, and the best smartwatches.
With an always-on color touch screen, a sleeker design, and new health tracking features, the Charge 5 is a significant upgrade over the previous model and Fitbit’s best fitness tracker yet.
Ideal for small wrists, the Garmin Lily smartwatch has a fashionable, jewelry-inspired design and many useful health-tracking features for a reasonable price.
The sleek, style-forward Fitbit Luxe offers all the basics you want from a fitness tracker in a design that looks more like jewelry than gym wear.
The slim, affordable Fitbit Inspire 2 offers all the basic activity and sleep features you need from a fitness tracker.
The Coros Apex is a multisport GPS watch with excellent battery life and a data-rich companion app that offers a wealth of insights about your performance biking, running, swimming, and more.
The Polar Grit X is a best-in-class multisport GPS watch with a rugged yet attractive design, good battery life, and a wealth of useful outdoor-specific features.
With a faster processor, better battery life, and a lower price than the previous model, the second-generation Apple Watch SE is an excellent budget-minded alternative to the Series 8.
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 improves on a winning formula with a more durable design and longer battery life than its predecessors, making it the best Android-compatible smartwatch on the market.
Starts at $279.99
Fitness Tracking Apps
If data drives you, you have plenty of options beyond fitness trackers and smartwatches to help you monitor your efforts and progress. Free and affordable fitness tracking apps can fill the gap when you don’t have the money or desire for a wearable, and they can offer additional insights if you do.
One of our favorites, especially for those just starting out, is Map My Fitness. Available for Android and iOS, it’s free and lets you record nearly any activity, from running and mountain biking to playing an instrument, walking the dog, and vacuuming.
Map My Fitness (Credit: Map My Fitness)
If you’re a runner, cyclist, or swimmer, download Strava, a free app that lets you compete against yourself or others who have traversed the same segments as you. We also recommend Charity Miles, a free app that donates money to charity for every mile you walk, run, or bike.
Many fitness-tracking apps, including Map My Fitness and Strava, sync with wearables such as the Apple Watch and standalone heart rate monitors to offer even more information, including how much time you spent in each heart rate zone during your workout.
Heart Rate Monitors
Although most modern wearables can read your heart rate, there are benefits to standalone heart rate monitors. For starters, most models support both ANT+ and Bluetooth, so they can stream your heart rate to multiple devices, including cycling computers, fitness apps, and smart home gym equipment in real time.
Polar H9 (Credit: Polar)
Chest straps are slightly more accurate than wrist-based wearables because you wear them closer to the heart. Optical heart rate sensors in Fitbit devices, the Apple Watch, and other wrist-based activity trackers calculate your heart rate by shining light into your skin and measuring blood flow. So for the most precise heart rate readings, consider a dedicated chest strap such as the Polar H9, which syncs with a wide range of exercise equipment and apps.
Factors including cold weather, tattoos, and motion can potentially throw off optical heart rate sensors and lead to erroneous measurements, making them slightly less reliable. That said, optical heart rate trackers tend to be easier to use, feel more comfortable, and allow for 24/7 monitoring. One of our favorite standalone optical heart rate trackers is the Wahoo Tickr Fit, which supports Bluetooth and ANT+ to connect with workout apps and machines.
Check out the best heart rate monitors for more.
Polar H9 Heart Rate Sensor
The entry-level Polar H9 is the best heart rate monitor for anyone with basic needs, with a wide range of compatibility and an excellent companion app.
Smart Scales (and Healthy Meals)
Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply drink more water, a smart scale can help you monitor your progress. These devices connect with your smartphone and do a lot more than just tell you how much you weigh.
One of our favorites is the Wyze Scale, which costs around $20 and tracks 12 metrics, including your basal metabolic rate (BMR), body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, body water percentage, heart rate, muscle mass, protein level, and weight up to 400 pounds.
If you’re trying to lose weight, knowing your BMR, or the amount of energy your body uses when at rest, can be very helpful. You can use this metric to help find your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), or the total number of calories you burn each day while active and at rest. At the most basic level, consuming fewer calories than your TDEE puts you in a caloric deficit and results in fat loss.
Wyze Scale (Credit: Wyze)
Smart scales (as well as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 5 series smartwatches) determine your body fat percentage using a process called bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA), which involves sending a low-level electrical current through your body. The current moves quickly through tissues that contain a large amount of fluids and electrolytes, such as muscle and blood, and faces greater resistance—or impedance—moving through fat.
It’s important to note that the small electric current sent through your body during BIA measurement can affect pacemakers. If you use a pacemaker, look for a scale with a safe mode. The Wyze Scale, for instance, offers a mode called Only Measure Weight, which disables the BIA measurement.
There’s no evidence that smart scales are dangerous for pregnant women, but if you’re expecting, your measurements (except for weight) will likely be inaccurate. The same is true for children and adolescents under the age of 18 who are still growing.
And if you’re watching your weight or just want to improve your overall health, increasing your veggie intake is a good idea. Subscription-based food delivery services make it easier than ever to start and maintain a healthy plant-based diet. After testing them all, we found that Green Chef (starting at $9.99 per meal) offers the best vegetable-based meals.
For more, head over to the best smart bathroom scales and the best vegetarian and vegan meal-kit delivery services.
The Wyze Scale offers unbeatable value, with the ability to measure and track 12 metrics, Wyze Band integration, and a safe mode for pregnant women and people who wear pacemakers.
Green Chef Meal Delivery Service
If you like fresh, vegetable-forward meals, GreenChef is the meal kit delivery service for you. The entrees put plants at center stage, with mouth-watering options for vegetarians and vegans, as well as meat eaters who follow paleo or keto diets.
Starts at $9.99
Sleep Better at Night
We all know that it’s important to get a good night’s rest, but that’s often easier said than done. Fortunately, a plethora of available technologies can help you achieve that goal.
Gaining insight into your sleeping patterns is the first step toward identifying problems and fixing them. When you’re evaluating wearable options, look for a device with continuous heart rate monitoring and an SpO2 (or Pulse Ox) sensor that tracks your blood oxygen saturation levels as you sleep. The Fitbit Charge 5 ticks both boxes. It tracks the amount of time you spend in light, deep, and REM sleep and offers graphs that show when you were asleep and awake through the night. The Charge 5 also gives you a daily sleep score that can help you quickly gauge the quality and restorative value of your shut-eye.
Fitbit Sleep Metrics (Credit: Fitbit)
Smartwatches are also capable of tracking sleep, but they tend to be bulkier and have shorter battery lives than fitness trackers, which makes them less practical for wearing overnight. The Apple Watch can track when you drift off and wake up, your total time in bed and asleep, and your overnight respiration and heart rate.
When it comes to sleep, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 5 models, have a slight upper hand over the Apple Watch. When you wear one of Samsung’s watches to bed and place your smartphone on your nightstand, they work together to listen for snoring and can even record it.
Many people simply find it too uncomfortable to wear a fitness tracker or smartwatch to bed. If you’re in that camp, a contactless option like the second-generation Nest Hub or the Amazon Halo Rise might be of interest. Both track your sleep from the nightstand without physically touching you. And if temperature issues keep you up, the Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover smart mattress topper lets you adjust your existing bed’s climate from hot to cool via your phone, and it expertly tracks your sleep health.
SleepIQ app (Credit: SleepIQ)
Comfort is key, so if you wake up with back pain or can’t seem to get cozy on your old mattress, a high-tech smart bed such as the Sleep Number 360 i8 might be worth the investment. It’s pricey, but it lets you adjust the firmness of each side for your optimal comfort level. It also automatically adjusts depending on your movements, so when you turn onto your side, it provides more cushioning, and when you move onto your back, it firms up for extra support. The mattress also tracks your slumber and offers insights via the SleepIQ companion app to help you get the best rest possible. When you pair it with Sleep Number’s FlexFit 3 base, it can even elevate your head and feet, as well as warm your tootsies to help you drift off faster.
Read the best sleep tech for catching your ZZZs for more.
Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen)
With the ability to track your sleep in addition to all of the voice control capacity of the original, the second-generation Nest Hub smart display is an ideal bedside companion for Google Assistant users.
The Amazon Halo Rise alarm clock tracks your sleep and features a sun-simulating light to help you wind down and wake up, but it’s not as well-rounded as some competing products.
Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover
The Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover smart mattress topper lets you adjust your existing bed’s temperature from hot to cool via your phone and expertly tracks your sleep health.
Starts at $1,595.00
Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed
With a temperature-balancing surface and the ability to track your rest, the Sleep Number 360 i8 is one of the smartest and most luxurious mattresses you can buy.
Price as Tested $6,198.00
Tech to Manage Your Stress
Like getting enough sleep, reducing your stress is key to maintaining your health.
Meditation can be a useful tool for winding down at night and relieving stress at any time. If you’re new to meditation or have trouble focusing, you might want to check out the Core Meditation Trainer. You hold the orb-like device in your hands as you stream guided meditations via its companion app, and it gently vibrates to help you relax and focus. As you meditate, sensors on top of the device measure the electrical activity of your heart through your thumbs to quantify the benefits of each session on your body.
Core Meditation Trainer (Credit: Hyperice)
The companion app calculates your heart rate variability (HRV)—the time between each heartbeat. HRV is a measure of your nervous system activity and an indicator of your resilience to stress; in general, the higher the HRV, the better.
Most wearables also offer guided breathing exercises that can help reduce stress. The Fitbit Sense 2 and Charge 5 take it a step further with integrated electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors that measure small electrical changes in your skin’s sweat level to track your body’s response to stress. These wearables also give you a daily Stress Management Score based on metrics including your heart rate, heart rate variability, EDA data, physical activity, and sleep patterns. With a Fitbit Premium account ($9.99 per month or $79.99 per year after a 90-day free trial), you can meditate with Deepak Chopra.
Fitbit Sense 2 (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
As lower-cost alternatives, plenty of free and affordable meditation apps can help you combat stress and anxiety. Smiling Mind(Opens in a new window) (available on Android and iOS) is a favorite; it’s free and offers meditations for various issues and events including difficult emotions, relationships, sleep, and stress. Some of our other favorites include Aura, Calm, Insight Timer, Meditation Studio, Simple Habit, Ten Percent Happier, and The Mindfulness App. All are available on both Android and iOS, plus offer free content. Headspace ($12.99 monthly or $69.99 annually on iOS and Android) is another standout, providing hundreds of meditations for health issues, emotions, challenges, and productivity.
For more, check out 13 Meditation Apps to Help You Fight Anxiety and Stress.
The Core Meditation Trainer is a handheld meditation aid that uses vibrations to help you focus and guide your breathing as ECG sensors measure your mindfulness and its companion app tracks your progress.
Fitbit’s health-focused Sense 2 smartwatch puts an emphasis on stress management while improving upon the original with a more responsive touch screen and longer battery life.
Smart Features to Curb COVID-19
The fight against COVID-19 has spurred new features in consumer technology to help users protect themselves against the virus and detect early signs of infection. So far, these features are primarily in smartwatches and other wearables.
The Apple Watch Series 6 and above, and the Galaxy Watch 4 series and above, let you take on-demand blood oxygen saturation readings at any time, and capture periodic background measurements when you’re sleeping and inactive. The Garmin Venu 2, Garmin Lily, and Fitbit Charge 5 can also measure your SpO2 level.
Apple Watch Series 6 (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
An SpO2 sensor indicates how well your circulatory and respiratory systems deliver oxygenated blood to your body, which can help you gauge whether medical intervention is necessary. Your SpO2 reading alone can’t diagnose COVID-19, but as the Yale School of Medicine advises(Opens in a new window), a reading below 90% might warrant a trip to the emergency room.
Apple is also aiming to help curb COVID-19 with a feature that reminds you to wash your hands when you return home. When your Apple Watch detects handwashing movements and the sound of running water, it shows a 20-second countdown timer on the screen, so you don’t have to silently hum “Happy Birthday to You” twice in your head when scrubbing germs away. It’s a feature we found surprisingly helpful in testing.
Oura Ring (Gen 3) (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
The Apple Watch Series 8’s most notable upgrade from the previous generation is the addition of sensors that measure your overnight body temperature. Several other wearable devices—including the Fitbit Sense 2, the Fitbit Charge 5, the Oura Ring Generation 3, and the Whoop 4.0—also track skin temperature variations, a metric that indicates whether you’re running hotter or colder than usual. These devices typically measure your temperature at night (when environmental and lifestyle factors least affect your body) and track deviations from your baseline down to a fraction of a degree.
For more, check out the best fitness trackers and the best smartwatches.
The attractive Garmin Venu 2 smartwatch offers a large collection of advanced health and fitness features, plus useful lifestyle tools including mobile payments, onboard music storage, and Bluetooth headphone support.
With new features such as body temperature sensing and car crash detection, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the right choice for most smartwatch buyers.
Starts at $399.00
The third-generation Oura Ring offsets its new monthly membership fee with an upgraded suite of health-tracking features including continuous heart rate measurements, improved temperature sensing, and period predictions.
Starts at $299.00
Sprint Ahead to Future Fitness Tech
As we look ahead, we have no doubts that 2023 and beyond will usher in an exciting new crop of smart health and fitness innovations.
Withings U-Scan (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
From a 10-second toothbrush to a luggage-size treadmill, CES 2023 brought some of the coolest health and fitness tech we’ve seen yet. One of the most interesting products we saw at the show is the Withings U-Scan, a device that resides in your toilet and tests your urine without requiring you to capture a sample or use messy strips.
Dyson Zone (Credit: Damiano Crognali)
We’re also excited about the upcoming Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones. When I demoed the Zone at CES, the purified air felt cold on my face, a nice change from the stuffy show floor. Others might disagree, but I think its Bane-like aesthetic(Opens in a new window) looks cool.
We continue to test the latest health and fitness devices to let you know which ones are worth your hard-earned dollars, so make sure to check back often for the latest coverage.