Step goals: Affordable trackers to give Apple Watches a run for their money

Amanda Capritto
·6 min read

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We’ve all heard that we need to walk 10,000 steps a day to be healthy. While that recommendation has questionable origins and is kind of arbitrary, it’s a fact that increasing your daily step count can help you burn more calories, lose weight, improve your fitness and simply establish healthier habits.

To improve your daily step count, you first need to know where you stand right now, which you can find out with an activity tracker. Once you know how many steps you currently take per day, you can start increasing your step count with some accountability you can wear with one of these pedometers.

1. Best Budget-Friendly but Powerful Pick:
Garmin vofit 4

Credit: Garmin

Reg. Price: $79.99

For a highly capable, feature-packed step counter that won’t stretch your wallet too much, go with the Garmin vívofit 4. At a list price of $80, this small but powerful activity tracker counts your steps and more.

It packs many of the same features as more expensive activity tracker options but keeps your investment under $100. The colored “move bar” on the vívofit display will keep you motivated to reach your daily step goal by alerting you when you’ve been sedentary for too long. It then resets when you get up to move for a few minutes.

I love that Garmin’s AI learns your current activity level and sets an attainable step goal for you, so you don’t get discouraged by setting a goal that’s too high. As you meet your step goals day after day, the watch nudges your goal higher to encourage continual improvement.

As for standout features, the Garmin vívofit 4 boasts a wildly impressive one-year battery life, so you can enjoy 24/7 activity tracking without interruption from a dead battery. Most activity trackers on the market today, including Fitbits and Apple Watches, have to be charged every few days or even every night, which leads to interruptions in data tracking (including step counting if your watch dies during the day).

Have kids? Use the Toe-to-Toe feature to challenge your kiddos to a step challenge (your kids must have the Garmin vívofit Junior activity tracker). It’s a fun way to keep the whole family active, and it’ll surely help you increase your step count!

Slick Tip: Save $6 at Walmart (only size small/medium available)

Check Price at Garmin

2. Best Simple Pick:
Realalt 3DTriSport Walking 3D Pedometer

Realalt 3DTriSport Walking 3D Pedometer
Credit: Amazon

Reg. Price: $24.99 | FREE Prime Shipping

If all you want to do is count your steps and you find all the bells, whistles and apps on other wearables more distracting than motivating, the Realalt 3DTriSport Walking 3D Pedometer is the best pedometer for you. It’s easily the best no-frills pedometer available in 2021.

At an attractive price of $25, this step counter offers phenomenal value and accuracy with the latest 3D Tri-Axis Sensor technology.

As it counts your steps, it also tracks distance in kilometers or miles, time-elapsed and calories burned — the only three metrics you need to determine if you’re making progress and becoming a faster or more efficient walker. If you care to see your performance over time, the Realalt 3DTriSport Walking 3D Pedometer stores your workout data for up to 30 days.

You can clip this pedometer to your belt, wear it around your neck on a lanyard or simply put it in your pocket or bag. It’ll count your steps as long as it’s on your person!

Reviews of the product praise the device for being senior-friendly because it’s easy to set up and use, and the large display makes it easy to read your step count. Older and younger adults alike love the simplicity of this step-counting device. For example, one buyer on Amazon says this simple pedometer beats all of its past devices: “I’ve had three or four different pedometers over the years and was never pleased with any of them. They were either too difficult to set up, inaccurate, or the settings would need to be re-set periodically for no good reason. This pedometer is easy to set up, is very accurate, and looks good.

Check Price on Amazon

3. Best Luxury Pick and My Choice:
Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3
Credit: Fitbit

Reg. Price: $229.95 (includes a 3-month premium trial for new premium users)

As a previous Fitbit Versa owner (I’ve since transitioned to a Polar watch), I know just how convenient it can be to have Fitbit’s premium activity tracker on your wrist. This smartwatch is incredibly motivating thanks to Fitbit’s hourly reminders to get your steps in.

While I love my Polar watch for other reasons, I can honestly say I miss Fitbit’s step-tracking capabilities that would tell me exactly how many steps I needed to walk at the end of each hour. It’s a super helpful feature for those of us who work desk jobs and tend to remain sedentary most of the day.

With a price tag of $230, this glorified step counter isn’t cheap, but it’s more than worth it if you’ll use all of the features, including 24/7 heart rate monitoring, oxygen saturation monitoring, skin temperature variation, heart rate variability, workout intensity maps, active zone minutes and much more. I would recommend the Fitbit Versa to people serious about improving its fitness and people who thrive on data.

If you find data more overwhelming than motivating, the Fitbit Versa probably isn’t the right pick for you. However, if you enjoy measuring your improvement in an objective way, the Fitbit Versa offers step counting and reminders, plus so many other features to help you improve your daily step count and overall activity level. Overall, this is a great activity tracker for people who want the luxury of an Apple Watch without an actual Apple Watch.

Check Price on Fitbit

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