It seems like just about everyone these days has a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or some other type of wearable fitness tracker. But, you might notice that every single fitness tracker you’ve seen sits around the wrist. If you think it makes more sense to track your steps and your distance traveled via the part of your body that’s actually moving (i.e. Your legs), you’re not alone.
That’s where ankle fitness trackers come into play. And, yes, they’re exactly what they sound like. Rather than being worn around the wrist like a watch, they’re snugly strapped around one of your ankles instead.
Don’t know anything about ankle fitness trackers?
Well, you’re about to learn!
Why the Ankle?
Though fitness trackers give us great insight into our activity levels and health, they’re not as accurate as we might want them to be. When it comes to your step count, your fitness watch might let you down in quite a few circumstances.
Let’s talk about why.
Similar to a pedometer, fitness trackers use a three-axis accelerometer to figure out just how many steps you’re taking and when. This type of highly-scientific sensor is usually seen as rather reliable and accurate.
But, that’s only as long as you’re moving your arm or wrist a certain way when walking.
If you have a fitness tracker watch, try it out now. Hold an item in front of you and walk normally without pumping your arms. By the time you get across the room, your fitness tracker has either sensed zero steps or only a fraction of the number of steps you’ve taken.
Then, there’s also the fact that fitness watches might measure extra steps whenever you move your arms or hands. So, you might be tacking on hundreds of extra steps every day accidentally when you type on your computer, write with a pen, or even turn a page of a book.
That’s why ankle fitness trackers are ideal.
As long as you’re walking, it’ll be measuring every single step you take. That means you can absolutely guarantee greater accuracy without having to force your arms and hands to pump every time you take a step. And, it’s much harder to cheat and add on steps you didn’t do.
In terms of step count, a fitness tracker worn around your ankle will be most accurate.
Though the accuracy in step count is perhaps unmatched, there are a few downsides of wearing a fitness tracker around your ankle.
Let’s talk about why.
Measuring your heart rate through regular wrist-worn fitness trackers already isn’t all that accurate. As you ramp up the intensity of your workout, your fitness tracker is no longer able to measure your heart rate as precisely. That means it might actually be higher or lower than your Fitbit is telling you.
But, wearing a fitness tracker around your ankle isn’t any better.
Around your ankle, your tracker doesn’t have a specific blood vessel or artery to measure your heart rate through like it does around your wrist. That means there might even be times that your heart rate is completely unreadable when your fitness tracker is on your ankle.
That also means that fitness trackers worn around the ankle might not be too accurate when it comes to reading your sleep quality.
Then, there’s the discomfort.
Most fitness trackers are designed specifically to be worn around the wrist. When you consider how bony and sensitive the ankle area is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that wearing one around your ankle can be uncomfortable or even cause chafing.
The Different Types
If you do an internet search for “ankle fitness tracker,” you’ll probably see a bunch of Fitbits and other fitness watches come up in your search. Well, that’s because there are actually very few legitimate ankle fitness trackers available today.
Let’s go over the two different types you’ll want to look into.
Fitness Trackers Built for the Ankle
Now, it’s going to be very difficult to find an actual fitness tracker that was built specifically for your ankle. That’s probably because manufacturers have realized the great limitations that come with using the ankle.
But, there are a few out there.
Some can even be worn around the wrist or ankle. Or, you can choose to switch between the two locations depending on the activity you’re doing or how intensely you’re doing it.
The major downside of these products is that you’ll have to settle for a small-name brand that you know nothing about. That’s because fitness tracker manufacturers like Fitbit or Garmin currently don’t have ankle varieties just yet.
Because of that, you’re risking quality!
A majority of the reviews for this type of product don’t seem to be consistently great. It seems that many people have figured out that the battery is awful, the band doesn’t record any type of movement, or it’s just a waste of money.
So, what else is there?
Wrist Fitness Trackers…Around the Ankle?
You wouldn’t strap your Fitbit around your ankle, would you?
Well, you’ll find that a majority of the products online are just straps that you can buy to attach your fitness tracker watch around your ankle. The good news is that it means you don’t have to spend extra money on a new fitness tracker.
So, how does this style even work?
Well, most of these products are compatible with specific types of Fitbits or Garmin Watches. But, you’re not going to need the original band to make this product work. You’ll need to remove the band from your fitness watch and just pop the sensor feature into these fabric bands.
Basically, you’re just buying a band that can keep your fitness tracker around your ankle.
The best part is that these bands are compatible with a ton of different smartwatches and fitness trackers. You can easily adjust the strap tightness and not have to worry about the fitness tracker coming out of the pouch in the strap.
There are a few clear downsides.
Though these are probably more accurate in terms of step count, these bands practically make measuring your heart rate and your sleep quality impossible. But, you’ll have to choose which is more important to you: Steps or heart rate?
Choosing a Product
Since there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to end up with a simple ankle strap, you need to make sure that you’re choosing the right product. After all, not all fitness watches or trackers have the same size sensor portion.
The ankle fitness bands online will mention which specific models of Fitbit or Garmin watches they’re compatible with. Pay close attention to the numbers and model numbers. For example, the Fitbit Charge is very different from the Charge 2 or Charge 3 in terms of size and features.
Best Fitness Trackers
If you don’t already have a fitness tracker, you’ll have to buy one separately. Here are some examples of fitness trackers that are supported by some ankle bands.
- Fitbit Inspire
- Fitbit Inspire HR
- Fitbit Charge 2
- Fitbit Charge 3
- Fitbit Alta
- Fitbit Alta HR
- Fitbit Flex
- Fitbit Flex 2
- Garmin Vivosmart
- Garmin Vivofit
And, there are obviously others! Make sure you’re doing your research to be sure that the ankle band that you’re choosing covers the fitness tracker you’re purchasing.
What to Look For
As simple as an ankle fitness tracker might sound, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep an eye out for when making a purchase decision. Here’s a look at things to think about.
- Color. Even though your fitness tracker will be hidden when you’re wearing pants, you’ll want to consider the times that you wear shorts where your fitness tracker will be visible to the outside world. Most will be a solid color like black, but some have designs like camouflage or paisley patterns. Choose the one you’re not afraid to show off.
- Breathability. Because you might be going for intense runs or bike rides while wearing your band, you want to make sure that your ankle and your skin can breathe during movement. Try to choose a product that boasts incredible breathability, mesh construction, or a soft design that prevents irritation.
- Closure system. How you’ll be attaching your fitness tracker around your ankle is perhaps just as important as comfort. Most bands come with a snap button design, but you might want to think about a hook and loop fastener if you want a more accurate and comfortable fit.
Overall, it’s your choice when it comes to the product you purchase. But, the last thing you want to do is buy the wrong one and have to spend more money on the right one later on.
Our Top Choices for Best Ankle Fitness Trackers
Now, it’s time to go over the best ankle fitness trackers that you can purchase online right now. Keep in mind that they do vary in terms of features and compatibility, so make sure you’re reading the fine print as well.
Here they are!
We chose this product as our top choice because it’s practically the only genuine fitness tracker meant to be worn around the ankle. Plus, it can withstand just about any physical activity you put it through, including swimming, biking, and running.
What’s great is that it’s also considered an audio coach. So, this ankle fitness tracker can actually walk you through a workout and provide you with any motivation that you may need. All of your data will be sent over to an app on your phone thanks to the Bluetooth technology.
This device is meant to do a lot more than a regular fitness watch might. It can help you to record data related to your interval training, split times and stroke when swimming, overall speed when biking, and how many hits you’ve succeeded with when kickboxing.
Plus, you have the choice between four color options and the ability to wear this track around your wrist or your ankle.
What makes this product great is that you really don’t have to detach the sensor from your Fitbit when wearing it around your ankle. This ankle band simply replaces your wrist band with a thin and soft band meant to be worn around your ankle instead.
To make sure it’s secure around your ankle, there’s a neat hook and loop fastener system. That means you can easily adjust the sizing to fit your ankle exactly, so your Fitbit won’t be cutting off your circulation or sliding up and down your ankle with every step you take.
Since this band basically enables you to wear your Fitbit around your ankle, it is somewhat possible to get a reading on your heart rate as well. But, as we already mentioned, it might be shoddy and not consistently read.
This is definitely a solid choice if you want a slim band that fits perfectly and doesn’t irritate your skin.
- Fitbit Alta
- Fitbit Alta HR
When it comes to intense physical activity and measuring your step count, you can’t go wrong with such a heavy-duty ankle band. You’ll be getting two bands with every purchase and you won’t be disappointed by just how thick this band really is.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this band is bulky. In fact, this ankle fitness tracker band is made of a soft microfiber material that’s comfortable on the skin and resistant to irritation. Better yet, the neoprene on the exterior will keep your fitness tracker completely dry when exposed to water or sweat.
To use this band, you will have to detach your fitness tracker from its original wristband. The good news is that it’s compatible with just about every Fitbit device out there.