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Tom’s Guide Awards 2021: Our favorite health and fitness tech of the year

Tom’s Guide Awards 2021: Our favorite health and fitness tech of the year
(Image credit: Peloton)

Health moved to the forefront of many people’s minds this year, and tech companies delivered plenty of devices and services to meet the demand. From physical fitness to mental wellness, taking a holistic approach to health is more important now than ever.

That’s why there are smartwatches that time tabata workouts and exercise bikes that offer yoga or meditation classes on their built-in tablets. Health isn’t one-size-fits-all, so the very best health and fitness products of the year cater to a wide variety of goals and needs. Sure, the best home gym equipment is a good place to start, but there are countless options for curating your wellness journey. See all the top wearables, exercise machines and workout services we tested this year below.

Best smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Future)

Apple brings the most capable smartwatch to the market, and thanks to the company’s capacity for annual upgrades, the iconic Apple Watch has remained the leading choice among the best smartwatches. The latest model, the Apple Watch Series 6, takes home the Tom’s Guide Award for the top smartwatch to get. It builds on what we appreciated about the Series 5, from the always-on display to the collection of health features, with an even brighter screen and added blood oxygen (SpO2) reader. Everything about the Apple Watch experience is seamless, reliable and everything you want from a wearable.

Best smartwatch that’s not an Apple Watch: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Galaxy Watch 3

(Image credit: Future)

Without sacrificing function, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 masters form better than any other smartwatch around. Its rotating bezel makes navigating the watch's interface easy, while access to thousands of watch faces lets you customize the display to your liking. Tizen is an intuitive platform, even though it’s being replaced by a version of Google Wear OS with Samsung’s added One UI Watch skint. The Galaxy Watch 3 is the best smartwatch that’s not an Apple Watch, and it’s also just a very good smartwatch.

Highly Recommended: Fitbit Sense
The best smartwatch that’s not an Apple Watch or a Galaxy Watch is the stress-detecting, skin-temperature-reading Fitbit Sense. It works with both iOS and Android, and comes with on-board GPS, a native app store, Alexa and more.

Best smartwatch for seniors (mobility and safety features): Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the Apple Watch Series 6 does it all, the Apple Watch SE is the best smartwatch for seniors. Unless you suffer from known atrial fibrillation or blood oxygen issues, the mid-range Apple Watch has everything you need to ensure safety and monitor mobility. It offers fall detection, irregular heart rate alerts,and a suite of movement-tracking data. With the GPS + Cellular version, you can also benefit from Family Setup, which lets a family member provide smartwatch tech support if you don’t have an iPhone. Better yet, with iOS 15, you can share your health data gathered from your Apple Watch SE with trusted family members.

Highly Recommended: Fitbit Sense
The Fitbit Sense is once again a runner up here, since it offers some of the flagship Apple Watch’s health tracking features for less. The $329 smartwatch has ECG and blood oxygen readings, although no fall detection.

Best smartwatch for the outdoors: Garmin Enduro

Garmin Enduro

(Image credit: Garmin)

Our favorite smartwatch for the outdoors this year is the Garmin Enduro. As one of the best sports watches and an alternative to the Garmin fenix 6 series, the Enduro packs a multitude of sensors and a battery that can last for months. Solar charging makes it ideal for those who spend hours (or days) outside consecutively, while industry-leading GPS technology will help get you back home.

In addition to accurate weather tracking, the Garmin Enduro will tell you sunrise and sunset times. Anyone who tries to sneak in a workout before it gets too dark in the evening will appreciate this feature.

Highly Recommended: For just $180, the Amazfit T-Rex Pro is a rugged outdoor sports watch worth considering. It kind of looks like a G-Shock, but it’s loaded with military certificates for durability and deep water resistance.

Best smartwatch for sleep tracking: Fitbit Sense

Fitbit Sense

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For the most elaborate glimpse at your overnight activity, the Fitbit Sense is the best sleep-tracking smartwatch. Unlike the Apple Watch, which just tells you how much time you spent asleep, the Fitbit Sense can differentiate the amount of time you spent in light, deep, and REM sleep. It also calculates an overall sleep score — a number closer to 100 is better — factoring in your heart rate and estimated oxygen variation data, too. If you’re interested in all aspects of sleep tracking, the Fitbit Sense is the smartwatch for you.

Highly Recommended: Apple Watch SE
If you’re less interested in monitoring your sleep cycle and care more about establishing a bedtime routine, the Apple Watch SE is your smartwatch. It helps you set sleep goals and reminds you when it’s time to wind-down in the evening in order to reach those goals.

Best virtual training program: Apple Fitness Plus

Apple Fitness Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Fitness Plus is a convincing virtual training program that’s only improved with time. At launch, it faced tough competition from the Peloton App, the service everyone had to have to stay in shape during quarantine. But Fitness Plus held its own by catering to Apple Watch users dedicated to closing their activity rings. With beautiful studios, a diverse coaching staff and new workouts available every week, Fitness Plus is worth trying out if you haven’t already. First-time users get three months free, then it’s $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

Best exercise bike: Peloton

Peloton Bike

(Image credit: Peloton)

The best exercise bike might not come as a surprise. Peloton has become a complete craze for its high-end exercise bike, hard-core instructors and the HD touchscreen that streams spinning classes right into your home. At $1,895 — plus $39 a month for a subscription and more for any of the best indoor cycling shoes — the Peloton Bike is higher in price than most stationary bikes, but there is nothing like it. Peloton is the at home version of going to a cycling studio minus being in a crowded room filled with others and requires less time for your workout since you do not have to travel to and from the gym.

Highly Recommended: MYX Fitness Bike
Don't want to pay (or wait) for a Peloton bike? The MYX Fitness Bike is the best Peloton alternative at a lower price. It's also a better fit for people who prefer a personalized workout experience over a class-like one.

Best workout machine that’s not a Peloton: Bowflex VeloCore

Bowflex VeloCore Bike

(Image credit: Bowflex)

For those who feel stationary fitness bikes are too stationary, the Bowflex VeloCore could be the answer. This connected fitness bike that leans from side to side so you feel like you're riding a real bike, instead of just pedaling away in your living room like you have been all year long. While it’s just as expensive as a Peloton, the Bowflex VeloCore’s unique design and large display makes it a compelling alternative, and one of the top home workout products this year. Plus, its side-to-side movement will help tone your midsection more than a traditional exercise bike might.

Best treadmill: NordicTrack Commercial 1750

NordicTrack Commercial 1750

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

NordicTrack is a trusted brand that has produced reliable, steady treadmills for years. Among its lineup, the Commercial 1750 is the best treadmill yet. It combines class-leading features, convenience and affordability. For under $2,000, you get a treadmill with a decent-sized screen (10 inches, compared to 32 inches on the Peleton Tread), FlexSelect cushioning, an automated fan for cooling and a space-saving design that folds up. The Commercial 1750 comes with one year of iFit, which streams on-demand, interactive trainer led global and studio workouts.

Highly Recommended: Bowflex Treadmill 22
The Bowflex Treadmill 22 is a beast of a workout machine. It’s pricey, but as big and sturdy as anything you’ll find at the gym.

Most innovative workout machine: Tempo Studio

Tempo Studio

(Image credit: Tempo)

More than just a smart workout mirror, the Tempo Studio has 3D motion sensors that analyze your form and provide suggestions for improving it during exercises. The Tempo Studio is also sleek; it has a large 42-inch touchscreen that sits atop a cabinet which holds the included weights. (You can also purchase a weight bench and barbell for the system). And, with the Studio’s $39 monthly subscription, you get access to hundreds of workouts, both live and recorded. If you’re looking to replicate your gym at home, this could be the future.

Best electric scooter: Unagi Model One

Unagi Model One electric scooter

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

No electric scooter balances performance, portability and style as well as the Unagi Model One. It has a sleek carbon fiber design that not only looks fantastic, but helps keep its weight to 26 pounds, which makes it easy to carry around. Dual 250-Watt motors propel the Unagi at up to 15 miles per hour, and are powerful enough to get up most hills. We also love its large, sharp display and its bright lights. And if you can’t afford its $990 price, you can also rent it for $35 a month in select cities.

Best electric bike: Charge Bikes City

charge bikes city

(Image credit: Charge Bikes)

Electric bikes have exploded in popularity as people have sought alternative means of transportation. The Charge Bikes City is perhaps the most well-rounded model, and comes with full-fenders to keep the mud off, a rear rack for a pack or bag, a five level power assist, and a full-power throttle button. It has all the necessary bells and whistles a commuter is going to want, including a very loud electronic horn. The handle bars fold flat, for easy storage in an apartment or cubicle, and the City's electric support is so smooth you'll think you're doing all the work yourself. It’s a great all-around electric bike that’s as comfortable in the suburbs as the city, and does so at a reasonable price.