How to buy an activity tracker in South Africa

Will activity trackers make people more healthy, or are they a fad with most fitness bands left lying at the back of a drawer somewhere? We believe that anything that makes you more aware of your activity levels can’t be a bad thing. However modest your health goals, any gadget that keeps you on track is paying for itself many times over.

Use our list of Top 5 Activity Trackers for South Africans to find the right model for you.



For best results, you need to wear your tracker all day and night, and not just during workouts. This allows you to gauge if you’re getting enough physical movement through the day, check your heart rate and stress levels at work, and the quantity and quality of your sleep. Smartwatch-like features such as weather, reminders and notifications provide value during office hours.


Sleep is recognised as playing a big role in health and wellness. All trackers measure the quality of your sleep, your movement in bed and changes in heart rate, and can report how much time you spent in light, deep or REM sleep. You need to wear your tracker to bed.


The heart-rate monitor on the underside of the tracker shines bright lights through the skin on your wrist to measure your heart rate by the movement of blood through your veins. It does this at regular intervals throughout the day and night, but heart monitoring is continuous when you start a workout or sports activity.


Few trackers offer GPS, even though it’s considered far superior to step count for accurately tracking distance. However, if measuring distance is not important to you, the lack of GPS improves battery life and lowers the price of a basic tracker. Some trackers can connect to the GPS on your phone for getting distance and route data.


It’s possible to connect your tracker app with your medical-aid scheme and earn rewards for meeting basic weekly and monthly exercise targets. Most trackers from the major brands are supported, but you should check the list of supported devices on your provider’s web page. Be aware that you are voluntarily sharing a large amount of personal data here.


The phone app is almost more important than the tracker itself, because this is where you compare your data over time and track your performance against your long-term goals. Fitbit and Garmin both have excellent, customisable smartphone apps, which has given them the edge in the market.


When you purchase your first device, be aware that you may be making a long-term commitment. If you change brands, you may have to forfeit all the health data you have collected over time. Luckily, some brands do let you use third-party apps so some data may be preserved.


Use our list of Top 5 Activity Trackers for South Africans to find the right model for you.

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