Health / physical activity tracking / smart watches

Hello everyone,

I have something I would like to discuss with you before I embark on a long internet search journey.

I am slowly getting into the age where I can’t just let nature take its course and be in a good health anymore. I am trying to pay attention to my health, but of course there are many things to do and it is not that easy. Now I have noticed that there are smart watches in the market which are equipped with all kinds of sensors and that suppose to be able track your state (if I understood correctly). I am not a fan of gadgets and haven’t worn watches for decades, but if it helps me to be informed of my health state and physical activity, I would be happy to buy some smart watches and wear them all the time for this purpose.

Now the question: is anyone using smart watches or whatever gadget to track health and physical activity? I imagine there are apps that allows you to track it and give recommendations about how much you should move etc (don’t mind to pay for it :grin:).

Any tips, links and feedback is highly appreciated!

PS. Are there functions to call emergency, for example, if the signals indicate a critical state?

And I would need an own SIM for it, I guess?


I’ve juste started running again since a 10 years break, and I also searched the smart watch market.

My goal was to have a gadget that allows me to have a nice track on google map, as well as keeping track of how often I run, in order to motivate myself. It also was to have my dad, who is a strava addict, see me running on his social network :slight_smile:

I first bought a 50.-- watch on LDLC, which was shitty because I couldn’t connect it to strava, it did not have GPS, and it was terrible at measuring hearth rate.
I then went with a garmin forerunner 245 (my collegues advice), which I’m happy with. If I had to choose again, I’d take the same, but with music option, so I won’t have to take my smartphone with me to listen to music while running.


I lift weights for approx. 12 years (there are times with more effort and times which I value having a drink in a bar higher). I used couple of years a gadget from Fitbit. In the beginning, it was quite interesting to see your heartbeat, the distance you walked and to track the weightlifting itself.

After two years, I got rid off the watch since there is no added value anymore (I know, when I was in the gym or I see and feel how I change when lifting more or drinking more). It was indeed also interesting to see, what kind of effects a nightout had on various factors. But that’s it.

I thought about purchasing an Apple Watch. But charging it every second day is quite a turn off. The battery of Fitbit lasted at least five days.

If you want to try a smart watch, maybe do not get the most expensive one. If you are losing your interest, then the costs were not that high. If you like it, why not upgrading it?


Not even if you get a cellular-enabled Apple watch (which can be operated without a SIM or piggy-back on your phone’s connection if carried with you),

But I think you do for the emergency calling feature (e.g. see here).

PS: I would probably get a “Prepaid” pay as you go SIM just in case and make a phone call or send a text every couple of months just to keep it up.

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I use a lot my garmin Fenix 6s (I had prio a garmin fenix 3) for multiple sports.
Running, road bike, mountain bike, ski touring, xc sking, … :slight_smile:

What is useful for me is the gps tracking. For Distance, elevation height, timing … I like it because I’m bit of a data geek, like probably a lot of us here, with million of excel sheet :slight_smile: .
I know that for certain goal, I’ve to ride a certain distance and have a certain amount of hours per week. Also combined with strava it brings some challenge. (You have segment and when you ride on them, you can see your time compared to other users).
GPS map to have a quick look (it doesn’t replace a proper GPS or map compass for ski touring) if I’m on track.
Other health information that I wanted, I finally didn’t find any added value

Same experience with health tracker:
Sleeping tracker are not very precise and most of health sensor it confirms what you feel.
I’ve drink 3 beers yesterday evening, my sleeping score is not good. It confirms what I feel. I trained a lot and I’m tired. The watch says that I need more recovery … Again confirm what I feel.
For serious training:
Heart rate with a wrist sensor is not enough, hear rate without a medical test is not enough.


I do use the apple watch to track my amount of exercise. It’s not that I would need a watch to tell me whether I went swimming or not, but it’s good to look back at the last weeks/months to see how good I am keeping up with it on average.
Other devices like the Fitbit might be better for the task of exercise tracking alone, especially given the battery (watch needs to be charged daily).
I don’t think there are yet devices who can reliably understand if e.g., you are getting a heart attack and call the emergency numbers, but the Apple Watch (the only one I know something about) can detect if you fell.

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  1. Track your steps number (just need a smartphone) > 8000 steps/day

  2. If you want a stronger activity (run, swim, cycling), buy a watch to monitor your heart rate.

Thanks everyone, some intermediate feedback from me:

I am trying to avoid everything from Apple, so I have to see a really strong advantage to go for it.

That’s what I was thinking about. I guess other devices have this function as well.

I actually did it at some point, but then it was buried under many other apps. Important point: I don’t want to carry my smartphone when I am for example running (and especially swimming).

Yeah, which one?

I have bought an Amazfit Band 5 for tracking my steps and activities. I am extremely satisfied with it. It’s a smartwatch as well, but I don’t use any of the smart features like calling or messages, it’s probably limited in that matter. I am only using it as a tracker, and it’s great value for the price (I bought it when it was 26 CHF).

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Suunto (finnish brand) has some nice smartwatches too, and cheaper than the garmins from what I could see.

I am looking from time to time since I do long distance hiking (I am mostly interested into the navigation part, the rest is just add ons I do not really need).

I run marathons / ultra marathons regularly (and train a lot) and bought an Apple Watch Ultra (previously a normal one, but the battery life was too short for ultra marathons during winter). Definitely not the mustachian option, but for me, it’s totally worth it, as I like to listen to Podcasts or Music when running and Apple Pay saved me a few times on longer runs.

But an Apple Watch only makes sense if you have an iPhone. Otherwise, there are other (much cheaper) options like Fitbit, Garmin, etc…


I run ultras and haven’t used a smartwatch until today. The only reason for that is: in order to use the recorded date all watches require an (online) account which is against my view on personal data protection. I do not want to need to use an (online) app/account just to get the data from the watch on my (offline) computer. Thefore I keep sticking to my ever since solution: Smartphone and Osmand app (yes, I know, Android is also sending data, but at least with Osmand the date are in an open format and I can use Osmand completely offline).

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I do/did the following sports:

  • Hiking: just used a smartphone with an app for GPS tracking. Works well.
  • Running: as for hiking, but at some point I’ve bought a cheap Bluetooth heart rate monitor on Aliexpress which connects to the smartphone app.
  • Gym and weight lifting: what worked best for me is just printing a tabular form on paper containing my workout program. I just enter the date and the weight for each exercise.
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Don’t like the idea of smartwatches (as I disable all the notifications on my phone too), plus their battery life is usually bad, and I like to wear regular watches.

For activity/health tracking I used to be a fan of Fitbit, but they got on my nerves recently with the subscription model (you can only see the very basic stats without one).

For my hiking/skiing/sports I use an older Garmin Fenix 5S (and would search for a former gen model if I wanted to buy again).
For pure daily activity/sleep/heart rate tracking, which one could sleep with, I was hunting for the smallest one for my girlfriend - and settled on a Garmin Vivosmart 4 (also no longer easy to find).

It will be very hard to do better than a Garmin.
You have got already same great advice above, anything from Forerunner or Fenix series would work. You can compare the models and see which features you care about the most and select the model accordingly.

Personally I have been using my Garmin Forerunner 935 for 4 years now and it has been fantastic. I even use it as an alarm in the morning and the best thing is the battery, I charge it maybe once every 2 week and I train 4/5 times a week.


You can decide for your health data to remain between the watch and the iPhone without being uploaded to iCloud. Then you should also backup the phone on your Mac instead of using iCloud, though health data might be end-to-end encrypted (not sure).

Thanks everyone again!

beim Einrichten der Fitbit App wird man darauf hingewiesen ein Premium-Abo abzuschliessen um diverse Funktionen wie die Schlafaufzeichnung zu nutzen. Die ersten 90 Tage sind kostenlos, danach kostet es Fr. 10.- pro Monat.

That’s what you mean? So if I use it for 3 years and my primary goal is to measure health data, I pay like additional 330 CHF for something I have already bought. Nööö!

While I’m also not happy that access to some (historic) data is gated by a subscription, you do see the most important data without a subscription. The main sleep data is always available.

As far as I can tell, the main features of the subscription are health metrics for the past 90 days instead of 7 days, a ‘daily readiness score’ and a breakdown on the sleep and stress scores. See Fitbit Premium


Is anyone using a smartwatch for swimming?
I re-start swimming and I was wondering if there is a device worth paying for it

I’m using the Hybrid Smartwatch HR Neutra from Fossil as my go-to watch for everything including sport activities. It’s a hybrid watch so it doesn’t have all the features a smart watch has. But it’s enough for keeping track of your steps, heartbeat, etc. I paid ~100.- CHF for it and the best thing is, it uses an e-ink display and only needs recharging every 1.5 - 2 weeks or so. It’s connected with your phone via bluetooth (no SIM). They have their own app, but you could connect it to Google Fit (haven’t done that tho). No NFC and no GPS.

I like the mix of a regular watch with a minimalistic number of “smart” features.