In recent years, a rising tide in the popularity of health and fitness has impacted industries around the globe, along with the growth of digitalization. For instance, fitness scheduling software and mobile apps are becoming basic essentials for gyms and studios.

We previously discussed how having features like a user-friendly dashboard, membership management, and attendance tracking are crucial aspects of fitness studio software. In line with this, recent developments in technology have also made fitness gadgets more advanced: nano-coating that makes gadgets waterproof, flex PCBs that enable gadgets to be smaller and lighter, and convenient software integration have spearheaded the popularity fitness wearables like watches have experienced in recent years. These enable individuals to keep track of their fitness journeys and keep motivated in the face of challenging workouts.

With that in mind, here are five of the latest trends in wearable fitness technology that are high in demand:

Interchangeable watch bands

When it comes to fitness wearables, comfort is definitely a key variable. Ideally, wearing your tracker on a daily basis should be the norm, especially if you want to track your sleeping habits. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t want to wear it. For the fashion-conscious, having the ability to switch out your watchband depending on the occasion is invaluable, too. Those with a smaller wrist often go for a sleeker, more polished look, however if you have a larger wrist, a more rugged and larger band might be the best option. Perhaps the fitness watch with the largest number of bands on the market is the Apple Watch, due to its versatile features. From lightweight leather straps to sturdy stainless steel bands, you’ll never run out of options. As you’re deciding which watch to buy, you should check the range of straps available for that current model, and how difficult or easy it is to interchange depending on your activities and needs.

Heart rate monitors

If you’re aiming for accurate heart rate readings, it’s probably best to invest in a dedicated heart rate monitor as opposed to a fitness watch. Unlike optical sensors, chest strap options can provide more accurate tracking compared to a wristwatch. They’re also more securely attached, especially when your sensor moves around during exercise, leading to inaccurate readings. One of the most accurate heart rate sensors overall is the Polar H10, which can be used for a multitude of sports. It also has a 400-hour battery life, which comes in handy if you need to be constantly monitored for health reasons. However, chest straps can be awkward to put on and remove if you have mobility issues. A great easy-to-wear alternative is the Polar OH1 armband, which can also be worn as a headband. On the other hand, it does have a much shorter battery life, which can be an issue for some people. In terms of user experience, presenting this heart rate data in a readable format with intuitive icons is the key to success.

GPS Tracking

For runners and cyclists, GPS tracking is an invaluable feature. The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music checks all the boxes, with a display that can be clearly read even in the bright glare of sunlight. Plus, you can leave your phone in your bag or car instead of taking it with you on your run, effortlessly syncing your data. By using data from your runs and races, it gives you customized recommendations on rest and recovery periods. It also measures your stride length and gives you possible estimates for a half-marathon or a marathon, depending on your goals. Going further, an app working in line with GPS tracking can give you clearer, detailed insights, instead of the limited display on your fitness watch. For instance, The Nike Run Club app can be synced with a variety of brands, offering a more in-depth look at your data. Through its intuitive color-coded feature, you can tell how fast or slow you were going on certain parts of your run, offering guidance for improvement. Unlike your mobile phone, a GPS-enabled watch will give you greater insights on how far you’ve run due to more effective synchronization with satellites.

Waterproof functionality

Although technology hasn’t yet evolved to the point where total waterproofing is available for all devices, many fitness trackers on the market have limited water resistance. This means that you can indulge in a hot yoga session, do laps in a pool, or continue your outdoor regimen despite the rain and snow without fear of malfunction. Diving in, the Fitbit Versa 2 can withstand being submerged in up to 50 meters of water, which makes it one of the best in its category. It can track how many laps you’ve done, which is always useful if you tend to lose count. The screen is also bright enough to be viewed underwater, due to its clear and concise interface. However, for more serious swimmers, GPS tracking for open swims is a feature that it lacks but it should collect enough data for casual swimmers.

App integration

Finally, one of the most crucial factors that determine a fitness tracker’s popularity is app integration. Currently, we’re rather limited by the small screens seen on fitness trackers. Even though they’ve come a long way from the pixelated watch-like displays of their early days, they don’t have the ability to display all the data collected in a detailed manner. That’s where apps come in so that users can easily access the data they need. When it comes to creating and designing a fitness app, you should ensure that it can be connected with a variety of devices, provides clear and thorough tracking information, and can be used as a standalone app. Because different trackers require different logic and custom application sync methods, it’s important to determine which features you’d like to prioritize, along with creating an easy-to-use interface. The good news is that many fitness app developers offer tools to improve integration, including the likes of Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, and Google.

Ultimately, the appeal of wearable technology continues to grow and has become an essential part of modern life. According to an article by Vox, the wearables market is expected to be worth $52 billion by the end of 2020. To remain competitive in this market, it’s vital to prioritize both the digital and design aspects of fitness trackers, especially when it comes to meeting the evolving needs of global consumers.