Fitness trackers

They say the mother of invention is necessity, but the driving force behind the advent of the fitness tracker was undoubtedly competition. Granted, it's true they have some genuinely practical functions - helping you to keep track of your weight loss and stick to your diet plan, for example - but let's be honest, they are really about one upping your friends.

Fitness trackers are an example of modern ingenuity though. A tiny device strapped to your wrist which is capable of monitoring your fitness progress is the stuff of science fiction. Below are just some examples of what these things are capable of:

• Counting steps taken. OK, stepometers have been around for a while, but fitness trackers are far more accurate than your average pound shop gadget.

• Measuring distances walked. This is where things get a little more sophisticated; the fitness tracker plugs into your GPS location and keeps tabs on how much ground you've covered on your morning run.

• Monitoring heartbeat rate. Not all models support this function, but if you do have genuine cause to be moitoring your heartbeat rate, it might be worth the extra few quid.

• Monitoring sleep patterns. Sleep is one of the most important factors to a healthy lifestyle, and a fitness tracker can help you figure out how much you need.

• Counting calories. If you're trying to shed some pounds, a fitness tracker can be a great way of keeping treack of your calorie intake while you're on the move during a busy work day.

Fitness trackers come in a few different forms - some, for example, are equipped with an attached screen which displays your stats (although this is by no means a pre-requisite; you can always hook up the device to your mobile and access the data that way instead).

If you're worried about battery life, then don't be: it tends to last for a while - if you're conservative with your use, you might get a couple of weeks out of it - so there's little chance it will die on you in the middle of a work out session.

Our recommendations

Runtastic Orbit, ~£30
One of the more basic products on the market, the Runtastic Orbit doesn't support the heart monitoring feature, and the display is a little bear - but it's a smart little device that will do the trick for most purposes (and it has a surprisingly powerful battery enclosed too).

Mio Fuse, ~£90
With an uber cool futuristic look and a nice, user-friendly interface, the Mio Fuse is worth a try if you are prepared to make a larger investment. Waterproof up to 30 metres, this device comes highly recommended for swimmers too.

Fitbit Surge, ~£150
At £150, the Fitbit Surge is designed for fitness fanatics for whom the gym is like a second home. Sleep monitor, heart tracker, built in GPS - this gizmo has it all. And there is plenty of scope for personalisation with music features and morning wake-up calls.