Today we are going to take a look at the best fitness tracker for senior citizens / the elderly. Fitness trackers are a great tool for monitoring and improving activity. It can be hard to pick the right one because of the choice these days.
IF YOU ARE IN A HURRY HERE ARE THE RECOMMENDATIONS:
The trackers available these days range from simple pedometers to extremely sophisticated sport watches that can monitor everything from heart rate to geographic position through GPS.
To most seniors, most of the features in these high-performance sport watches are unnecessary and quite frankly unwanted. So it can be hard for seniors to choose a good fitness tracker or activity bracelet. The same goes if you are looking to buy an activity bracelet for grandma as a Christmas present.
Nevertheless, fitness trackers are very valuable tools in monitoring your activity levels and to an extent your health. The greatest benefit comes from the fact that they motivate the wearer to achieve higher activity levels, something that is extremely important for most senior citizens.
Let’s start by looking at what fitness trackers actually are before jumping to the best options at the market at the moment.
What are fitness trackers
Fitness trackers are essentially small computers you wear on your wrist like a watch. They are also referred to as activity monitors, activity bracelets, sport watches and smart watches or simply as wearables. All those have different nuances and the classification depends mainly on the features and main function of the wearable.
The fitness trackers have several different sensors depending on the model and most have smart phone functionality as well. Generally speaking, the wearables referred to as activity bracelets have the least sensors and the simple ones don’t even have a screen, so you need a smartphone to read them.
Activity bracelets usually come equipped with a simple accelerometer that works simply as a pedometer. You input your weight, gender, and age and the bracelets estimate your overall activity based on that data. Activity bracelets generally cost around $50 to $100.
Wearables that are referred to as fitness trackers usually offer some added sensors and a screen that offers functionalities like workout timers, distance and pace information, and heart rate.
Most fitness trackers come equipped with at least a heartbeat sensor these days and many are implementing a SpO2 (also knows as pulse oximetry) sensor that monitors you blood oxygen levels. This is a useful feature for monitoring sleep apnea as pauses in your breathing will lead to a lowered blood oxygen level. The Fitbit Charge 3 has this feature, but it’s not currently active. I still think it’s the best fitbit for seniors.
Fitness trackers usually cost around $100 to $200 and they are generally the best bang for the buck when you are looking for a casual wearable to track your overall activity and workouts.
The most expensive wearables are smart watches and sports watches. Smartwatches usually resemble more like a traditional premium watch and they have a large, high-quality screen that will display information from your smartphone. Some even allow you to take calls through the watch.
Sport watches resemble a high tech watch and they usually come equipped with high-quality heart rate monitoring (with a chest band in most cases, due to the accuracy), high precision GPS, altimeter and data recording. They are designed for serious athletes that can’t carry around expensive and cumbersome smart phones in their workouts.
What makes a good fitness tracker for seniors
So what makes a good fitness tracker for seniors? There isn’t a simple answer as the needs are different for most seniors. We are going to go on a limb here (partly from experience) and say that most seniors would appreciate the ease of use above everything else.
This means the tracker should have large, easy to read screen that doesn’t need a smartphone for the basic functions. Long battery life is a must so you remember to keep it on your wrist instead of the charger and it doesn’t run out of juice in mid-workout.
Every, if not most seniors these days don’t have a computer so it would be good if the wearable wouldn’t rely on a computer at all.
If you think you need a computer I suggest getting a laptop as they are much more convenient for most seniors than tabletop computers. Check out my suggestions for the best laptop for seniors.
So an easy to read fitness tracker that doesn’t need a computer and has long battery life and is resistant to water would be the optimal wearable for seniors. A heart rate monitor would be a nice add on because they can offer valuable information about heart health and in some cases even warn about possible heart problems.
If you are a senior citizen looking for a fitness tracker on your own your needs are clearly different than if you are someone who is looking for an activity wearable or an emergency watch for an elderly relative for example. You see, there are wearables that offer valuable emergency locating and reminder features for the elderly. These are especially useful for seniors with memory issues.
The Best simple activity bracelet for seniors
Our recommendation for a simple pedometer or activity bracelet would be the Huawei Band 3 Pro. It’s a relatively cheap fitness tracker with a lot of useful features.
- Step tracking
- Sleep tracking
- GPS support through a smartphone
- Swim proof
- iOS and Android compatible
The Band 3 Pro is very slim which makes it comfortable to wear but means the display is a bit small and hard to read. The other features more than make up for that considering the price. This bracelet is enough for tracking activity in most seniors.
Best fitness tracker for seniors
Our recommendation for a more advanced fitness tracker is the Garmin Vivosmart 4. It’s a very small form factor fitness tracker with top of the line sensors.
- Step tracking
- Sleep tracking
- Constant heart rate monitoring
- GPS support through a smartphone
- Water proof
- iOS and Android compatible
- SpO2 sensor for monitoring sleep apnea
The greatest feature for this fitness tracker is the ability to track constant heart rate and the ability to track blood oxygen saturation at night. The constant heart rate monitoring makes the workout and activity measurements and caloric consumption estimates much more accurate compared to a simple step counter.
The SpO2 is very useful for monitoring your sleep quality and potential sleep apnea. Many older adults and seniors suffer from sleep apnea without knowing it. A fitness tracker like the Vivosmart 4 can point out if your blood oxygen levels drop during the night due to breathing obstruction. It’s not a valid medical diagnosis tool but the function is definitely useful and something your treating physician would likely be interested in.
The only downside of the Vivosmart 4 is the small screen just like in the Huawei bracelet. It means you will have to read the data from your smartphone if you have vision problems and can read the small screen.
Best smart and emergency watch for seniors
Most seniors aren’t interested in high tech gadgets like premium smart watches but if you happen to be one that is, our recommendation would be the Apple Watch, series 4. If you like high-end technology and have the wealth to buy the latest gadgets, you likely already own an Apple smartphone.
The Apple Watch is a state-of-the-art smartwatch that comes with a special feature that can be life-saving for seniors. If the user of the watch fall, the sensors of the watch will pick this up and a message on the watch will prompt the user to select “Emergency SOS” or “I fell, but I’m OK”, if the user doesn’t move in a minute, a call is automatically sent to emergency responders and emergency contact with location information. Definitely a neat and potentially life-saving function for technology-savvy seniors.
The Watch naturally comes equipped with top of the line sensors for monitoring heart rate, Spo2, activity, sleep, and location.
We hope you found our recommendations for the best fitness tracker for seniors useful. If you have any questions about fitness trackers and wearables, you can ask them in the comments section below and we will promise to get back to you as soon as possible.
Getting a fitness tracker is an investment in your health as it has been shown to motivate users to increase activity and improve their lifestyles. They are also a great gift for active seniors.
You don’t have to have the latest and the most expensive wearable to get useful suggestions for your sleep, activity, and workouts. Most affordable trusted brand fitness trackers will do just fine for the casual user.
That said, some of the more sophisticated fitness trackers can follow everything from your blood oxygen levels to automatic recognition of activities ranging from running to kayaking and even recognizing tennis racquet swings.
Just beware of cheap small brand activity bracelets and step counters. They are usually very low quality and won’t have any software updates or technical support. So invest at least $50 and get one from a trusted technology manufacturer, any of the smartphone manufacturers are usually good.
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