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Best fitness trackers for sensitive skin 2019

Products and advice for fitness fans who suffer from irritable skin

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Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sized, and with a broad range of features and prices to match.

Most are worn on the wrist, but increasingly there are options for the finger or chest. These have the potential to be more comfortable - especially in hot summer weather, or if you find wrist-worn devices cause skin irritation.

In this article we'll address ways to try and prevent skin irritation from wearable tech, and look at some of the best devices to track your fitness without causing discomfort.

How to stop a fitness tracker irritating your skin

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Before you decide that a wrist-worn tracker simply isn't for you, there are some steps you can take to help combat any irritation you may be suffering from.

For starters, you shouldn't be aiming to wear the tracker 24 hours a day. Even if the battery life means you can, you should try to take it off for a little while each day; perhaps you shower, or at night if sleep tracking isn't a priority.

You should also ensure the fitness tracker (or smartwatch) stays clean, as irritation is often caused by dirt gathered between your skin and the device. Most modern fitness trackers are water resistant, so you should give it a good clean every so often, but make sure you use a soap which you know doesn't irritate your skin.

If your irritation gets worse during the summer, try loosening the wearable slightly when exercising. The heart rate tracker will still work find, but hopefully there will be less friction between the device and your wrist. Remember, your wrists will swell slightly when exercising - or even just when it's warm - so you should adjust the strap accordingly.

Finally, some fitness trackers (but quite a few smartwatches) can have their straps replaced. If you find a certain material is causing you problems, you could swap out the strap for an alternative made from something different. Some smartwatch accept industry-standard straps, and there's a huge range of third-party straps for the Apple Watch.

Next, here are some fitness trackers to consider:

Garmin Vivosmart 4 - $130

Garmin

The Vivosmart 4 by Garmin strikes a good balance between size and feature set. It's a fairly compact device, yet offers a wide range of features which place it somewhere between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch.

There's step, exercise, swim and sleep tracking, plus stress monitoring, a guided breathing app, and VO2 max estimate. The Vivosmart 4 can also alert you to incoming calls, texts and other notifications on your phone, and the battery will last up to seven days depending on how you use it.

The rubber strap is smooth on both sides, which should help prevent dirt building up on the inside and causing irritation. It can also be adjusted just like a regular watch strap, so can easily be slacked by a notch or two when your arms swell slightly during exercise.

Moov Now - $50

Moov

The Moov Now is a dedicated fitness tracker, meaning it has no display or smartwatch features. The Moov can be worn on your wrist or ankle - the latter used to track cycling and your stride while running.

Water resistance means the Moov can track swimming, logging the length of your swim but also the length of each stroke. When connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, the Moov's AI coach issues spoken commands to help you push yourself during exercise.

The rubber strap cannot be swapped for a different one, but the breathable design with its many holes should help prevent irritation.

Oura Ring - From $355

Oura

For those who don't want a device on their wrists, the smart ring market is growing and becoming increasingly smart. One such device is the Oura Ring, which focuses primarily on sleep tracking.

Available in different colors and finishes, the Oura Ring monitors your movement, heart rate and temperature to track sleep stages and sleep depth, plus your resting heart rate, respiratory rate and heart rate variability. There are daily activity goals, step and calorie counts, and inactivity alerts.

A free sizing kit can be ordered in advance to make sure your Oura is exactly the right size; Oura is available in US ring sizes six to 13. Battery life for the new second-generation Oura is claimed to be up to one week.

Motiv - $200

Motiv

Motiv is quite similar to the Oura Ring, meaning it offers comprehensive fitness tracking without the need to wear anything on your wrist. The ring is water resistant, made from lightweight titanium, has a three-day battery life, and is available in seven sizes.

The Motiv tracks active minutes, activity type and intensity, distance covered, resting heart rate, calories burned, steps and sleep duration. A future software update will see the Motiv get 'Walk ID', a feature which can identify users by their gait.

Withings Steel HR Sport - $200

Withings

A hybrid smartwatch, the Steel HR Sport by Withings is the French company's most advanced wearable. It offers step, swim, exercise and sleep tracking, plus your heart rate and VO2 max.

The watch can be attached to any standard watch strap - perfect if you know certain materials can cause irritation - and the standard strap is covered in holes to help make it more breathable while exercising.

Bragi Dash Pro - $329

Bragi

Another alternative to the wrist-worn fitness tracker is the Bragi Dash pro, a pair of wireless earbuds which track your movement, heart rate, exercise, cadence, breath, speed, steps, calories and more.

The earbuds are water resistant so won't be damaged by sweat, and can even be used to track swimming if you're confident they won't fall out in the pool. As well as tracking fitness, they play music (naturally), have Alexa embedded, can be controlled by subtly moving your head, and offer real-time translation when talking to someone who speaks a different language.

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