Best Fitness Tracker for Seniors

You don't have to be an athlete to benefit from these gadgets. Fitness trackers for seniors measure your heart rate, steps, and more.
Best overall
Apple Watch 6 product image
Apple Watch 6
  • Icon Pros  Light
    In-depth health tracking
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Automatic fall detection
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Calling and messaging
Best for step counting
Garmin Forerunner 35
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Incident detection
  • Icon Pros  Light
    7-day battery life
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Panic button
Best for all ages
Fitbit Versa 3
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Sleep tracking
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Amazon Alexa built in
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Large screen
Budget pick
Letscom smartwatch product image
Letscom Smartwatch
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Affordable
  • Icon Pros  Light
    10-day battery life
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Large screen

Reviewed by health expert Sally Russell, MN, CMSRN, CNE

The Apple Watch 6  is a heart monitor, calorie and step counter, sleep tracker, time-teller, and loved-ones-caller—all in one wrist-sized device. If you can measure it, Apple Watch 6 can probably track it. And while the newest Apple Watch will take a bite out of your wallet, its features are pretty sweet.

This device is part smartwatch and part fitness tracker. If you want a simple way to track your health or help a loved one do the same, it’s a versatile and high-tech choice.



Compare senior fitness trackers

Fitness tracker
Price
Battery life
Step counter
GPS tracker
Sleep tracking
Calls emergency contacts
Fall detection
Learn more

Best overall

Apple Watch 6 product image

Apple Watch 6

18 hours

Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Best for step counting

Garmin Forerunner 35 product image

Garmin Forerunner 35

7 days

Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo

Best for all ages

Fitbit Versa 3

6 days

Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes

Budget pick

Letscom smartwatch product image

Letscom Smartwatch

10 days

Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo

*Amazon.com price as of 04/26/2021 at 4:22 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Fitness tracker for seniors reviews 

While these aren’t the only fitness trackers we looked at, these are our favorites. We’ve also included standalone heart monitors that didn’t make it into the ranking—take a peek to see if they meet your needs.

1. Apple Watch 6: Best overall

Whether you’re watching your heart rate for fitness or medical reasons, the Apple Watch 6 provides straightforward and accurate heart reporting. In addition to resting heart rate readings and sedentary alerts (reminders to move around), it can track sleep quality and dietary data.

Its large screen makes all this information easy to read. The display is also customizable, so you can make sure your screen layout works for you. To change the screen and make adjustments, just swipe on the watch face. There aren’t any buttons to fiddle with, making it easier to control for anyone with arthritis or stiff hands.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Automatic fall detection
Pro Bullet Variety of health-focused apps
Pro Bullet Calling and messaging
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Expensive
Con Bullet Short battery life

Our favorite senior-friendly feature is its automatic fall detection, a feature typically found in medical alert systems. We didn’t see this feature in any other fitness tracker or heart monitor we researched.

If you fall at home or while out on a walk and can’t get up, the Apple Watch 6 will notice and call one of your emergency contacts. You can speak to the contact directly from the watch to get help.

Unfortunately, all these cool features don’t come cheap. The Apple Watch 6 is expensive (over $400). Compared to the other heart monitors on our list, it’s more expensive and runs out its battery in 18 hours. That said, it’s a pretty cool gadget with tons of health-focused apps and features.

Thumbs Up
Apple Watch 6 and heart health

While the Apple Watch 6 is quite an investment, it comes with a number of heart health-focused features that can help you feel better and improve your health. 

  • Blood O2 levels
  • ECG readings
  • Heart beats per minute (BPM)
  • Elevation 
  • Activity reminders

2. Garmin Forerunner 35: Best for step counting

Best for step counting

Whatever your step goal, having a step counter can make your exercise much more fun. The Garmin Forerunner 35 is our pick for fitness trackers that count steps.

It shows your steps, heart rate, and time on a large, clear screen and has several different sport modes (looking at you, swimmers and cyclists).

The Garmin Forerunner 35 also comes with an optional wearable heart monitor. Whether you're training for your next marathon or just ready to make some health changes, this can help you monitor your heart health more closely.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Panic button
Pro Bullet 7-day battery life
Pro Bullet Step and activity tracker
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No health apps
Con Bullet Cannot respond to messages

But our favorite feature of the Forerunner is the incident detection and assistance failures feature that acts as a panic button. If you find yourself injured or in need of help, you can send your location to an emergency contact from your Garmin heart rate monitor.

While it’s not a replacement for a medical alert system, it’s a good choice if you’re wanting more activity-focused features.

Notepad
About step count

You’ve probably heard about how 10,000 steps per day is the key to good health. But recent studies have shown that as few as 4,000 can be just as beneficial for older folks (women in particular).1

3. Fitbit Versa 3: Best for all ages

Best for all ages

For almost a decade, Fitbit has been the name in fitness trackers. It’s a great pick for people of any age and fitness level to monitor their vitals and activity levels.

While the company has several choices of devices, we picked the Fitbit Versa 3 because of its large screen and health monitoring. It tracks sleep, steps, calories burned, heart rate, and has a sedentary reminder to keep you moving.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Built-in Amazon Alexa
Pro Bullet Interchangeable bands
Pro Bullet Large screen
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Pricey
Con Bullet No emergency contacts

The Fitbit Versa 3 doesn’t have an emergency call button or fall detection like our top two choices, but it’s still feature rich. Like the Apple Watch 5, you can connect it to your phone. So you can call your spouse with the grocery list while you’re out on a walk.

Its built-in Alexa assistant can also connect to your home devices, set timers, and walk you through workouts when you download activities and skills.

You can even connect Fitbit Pay to your debit card and pay for things by tapping the watch (and impress the grandkids at the same time).

The Fitbit Versa 3 has a six-day battery life, but we recommend charging it every couple of days to keep it going.

Light Bulb
Also check out: Fitbit Charge 4

Among Fitbit’s heart monitors and activity trackers is the Fitbit Charge 4. If you’re interested in just tracking your heart rate and activity levels, it has similar features to the Versa 3.

But it has a smaller screen and longer battery life (seven days versus six). You’ll still get access to the Fitbit app and tracking features but in a much simpler package.

4. Letscom Smart Watch: Budget pick

Let’s face it. A lot of these heart rate monitors and fitness trackers aren’t exactly cheap. That’s why we included the Letscom smartwatch. As one user said, she was looking for “champagne on a beer budget” and found it in the Letscom Smart Watch.

At around $30, it’s super affordable and a great starter device for anyone beginning a fitness routine or tracking their heart rate. (It’s never too late to get started, right?)

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Under $50
Pro Bullet Large screen with simple icons
Pro Bullet Plays music
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No messaging or emergency features

The Letscom Smart Watch has a large text screen with simple icons and controls, and not too many extras to get in the way of health tracking. Like the big brands, it tracks your heart rate, calories, and steps, and sleep patterns to give you a clear picture of your total state of health.

You can program different activity modes based on what kind of exercise you’re doing. Plus, it connects with Bluetooth headphones so you can play some tunes to get you moving.

As far as messaging goes, it’s more of a pager than anything. You’ll get alerts that you’ve received messages like texts to your phone, but you won’t be able to respond. If you can’t get to your phone, this may be an issue.

Consider a heart rate monitor

If you want a standalone heart monitor, you don’t need to wade through piles of activity and fitness trackers to find one. We chose a few of our favorite heart monitors designed with medical monitoring in mind.

AliveCor Kardia Mobile

AliveCor Kardia

The AliveCor Kardia is a pint-sized EKG device that monitors your heart rate. To get your measurements, hold the device between your fingers and thumbs. You should get a reading within 30 seconds.

The device itself is screenless, so you’ll have to download the app to your mobile device. But from your phone, you’ll be able to see a personal six-lead EKG that will let you know how your heart’s doing. If you have an irregular heartbeat or heart issues, information like this can help inform your doctor about treatments to help you stay healthy.

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap

Polar H10

If you want more accurate fitness-based heart rate readings, consider the Polar H10. This chest strap attaches directly to your chest (just under your heart) and uses electrical signals to read your heartbeat.

It connects to health and fitness apps like Fitbit and can provide you with in-depth data about your workouts or daily activity. The only issue is it may take awhile to get used to because of its placement, but you can expect accurate readings from this device.

SonoHealth Portable EKG heart rate monitor

SonoHealth Portable EKG

SonoHealth’s portable heart rate monitor takes EKG and ECG readings. It’s a pocket-sized device that you can press to your chest, legs, hands, or wrists to get measurements almost instantly.

You can sync it to your phone to keep a record of all these measurements to help with detecting arrhythmias and other heart issues. Much like the Kardia, these readings can help your doctor improve your treatments for heart health.

Final word on fitness tracking for seniors 

Heart health and fitness is crucial to living a long healthy life. Even if you’re over 65, it’s never too late to take the steps towards improving your heart. Heart monitors come with fitness trackers that count your steps along with your heartbeat or as medical-grade EKG or ECG monitors.

If you’re currently experiencing heart problems or have heart disease, consult your doctor before starting any new habits.

How we reviewed fitness trackers

Your heart rate is an indicator of your overall fitness and cardiovascular health. As we age, our chances of heart attack, stroke, coronary disease, and heart failure increase.2 So we picked fitness trackers and heart monitors with features that make tracking heart rate easy (and even fun) for seniors.

Qualities like large displays, messaging, comfortable or interchangeable bands, and expanded health-tracking capabilities were all at the top of our list.

We also browsed through consumer reviewers and expert opinions. Accurate readings, pricing, consumer interest, and smart tech capabilities were other qualities we put under the magnifying glass. To find out more about how we select our best picks, take a look at our methodology.

Heart and fitness monitors for seniors FAQ

It all comes down to specialization. Both devices can measure your heartbeat, but fitness trackers measure other things like your step count, calories, and even sleep patterns. Heart monitors can be fitness trackers or medical devices with in-depth EKG or ECG readings.

The standard target heart rate varies as we age. When exercising at 50% to 85% intensity, 60-year-olds should have a target heart rate of 80 to 136 beats per minute (BPM). People who are 65 should have a target heart rate of 78 to 132, and those in their 70s should aim for 75 to 128 BPM.3

Home heart rate monitors come in two styles: classic chest strap or wristband tracker. Chest straps use an electrical pulse to read your heart rate, while wristbands use optical technology.

Although wristband monitors are the most popular choice, chest straps offer more accurate continuous heart rate information. However, they tend to be expensive and less comfortable. We recommend a wristband heart monitor for aging adults since they’ll be more comfortable to wear all day.

In addition to heart health, older adults have a few things to watch as they age. With falls being such a big threat to seniors every year, improving your balance and bone health is especially important. 

Staying active, even just by increasing your step count, can help you burn calories, build muscle, and stay mentally active so you can enjoy your years ahead.

Related pages 


Sources

  1. Harvard Health Publishing, “ Do You Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Better Health?”Published November 2019. Accessed April 26, 2021. 
  2. American Heart Association, “All About Heart Rate (Pulse)” Published July 2015. Accessed April 26, 2021. 
  3. Markus MacGill, Medical News Today, “What Should My Heart Rate Be?”, Written November 2017. Accessed April 26, 2021. 

Disclaimer

*Amazon.com list price as of 04/26/2021 4:22 (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

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