14 of the best fitness trackers to update your next workout

Protein shakes, personal trainers, celebrity diet advice, fitness blogs, low-fat, low-calorie, low-flavour... jeez. Staying healthy is a full-time job.

You do the best you can, but beyond shelling out for bi-weekly personal training sessions, it's hard to know exactly what changes you need to make to improve your fitness.

This is when the right activity tracker or smart fitness device – which can monitor and collate stats such as time, distance, heart rate, altitude, GPS position and more – can make a world of difference.

Why go high-tech?

If your years at the gym have been spent tracking weight, reps and sets with pencil and paper, the need to strap an electronic device to your wrist may seem alien.

"There are many benefits to tracking your training," said Brodie Hicks, Seaworthiness Course Crusader with the . "Information about training intensity, training volume, velocity of movement, physiological response, load applied, and more can all be obtained from wearable devices."

By monitoring a variety of parameters - such as your location; the distance you travel; your heart rate; exercise duration; dietary intake; weight; and more – a smart fitness tracker can help you assess the effectiveness of your training, by presenting "information around the training load and how long you should recover for," said Hicks.

A new beginning

The task of choosing your first fitness device can be a little boggling; marketing jargon all tends to sounds the same. Just browse the shelves of any sports or electronics store and you'll find many devices appear to have the same features, albeit with wildly varying battery life.

Instead, Hicks suggests focusing on factors that will lead to improvement: "Obtaining valid and reliable data on which to make informed decisions."

"Do your research and have a clear understanding of what it is that you are looking for," said Mr Hicks. "If your training is primarily cardio based, look for technology within that field. The same goes for strength-based training. The focus should always be on how this device will either improve your training, or the feedback obtained from the training session."

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For example, a reliable heart rate monitor will gather valuable data to calculate exercise intensity and calories burned. With the addition of lifestyle information, such as diet and sleep patterns, more complex data can be compiled and yield a comprehensive portrait of your cardio exercise regime.

Don't get in over your head

Like many areas in life, 'keep it simple' is the perfect mantra to approaching exercise with a smart device. Why shell out for a tracker that provides you with elevation data if you only need distance, time and heart rate.

"With endless amounts of information, it can become quite easy to 'drown in data,'" said Mr Hicks. "I see many regular gym goers, PT's, and Strength and Conditioning Coaches alike being swept up in the numbers without truly understanding what the information is saying."

"Try to avoid using pieces of technology within training stimulus' that it isn't designed for as the information you will obtain will in no way be either valid or reliable."

Using the right tool for the right job will not only save you time in the gym, but also encourage you to maximise your efforts.

Take a look through the devices in the gallery above to zero in on the right device for your lifestyle and exercise program.