4 fitness activity trackers for expats

February 13, 2018
You may have had to leave a beloved sports club or yoga class behind and don’t know what’s available in your new location. 

It is a wearable device that looks much like a watch or bracelet that you wear on your wrist.  They are designed to track your movement, calorie output, heart rate and some track your sleep patterns. Most are designed to work alongside an app you install on your smartphone.

Although initial studies on the benefit of fitness activity trackers provided mixed results, the devices have become much more sophisticated in the last few years

Moving to a new country for work often presents some challenges, one of which are feelings of isolation, particularly if you are used to having a full and active social life at home. Wearables can offer some short term assistance in alleviating these feelings through exercise, while you settle in to your new home.

Three things you should look out for in an activity tracker are:

  • Personalised goal setting: taking 10,000 steps a day was a standard goal on a fitness tracker. It is a fantastic goal to have and indicates you are moving lots in your day to day life but if you are only taking 3,000 steps a day when you start, it may be a little ambitious. Having the ability to set your own goals should help you stay on track.
  • Social network connection: for competition with or support from friends and family, no matter where they are in the world. This is particularly useful in the early days of an expat assignment. Haven’t found a running group in your destination yet? Run against your buddy from home until you do.
  • Easy to read and understand reporting: this is key to monitoring and understanding your progress. The early fitness activity trackers often had confusing or complex reporting that was difficult to understand and interpret. However, most activity tracker apps in 2018 focus on simplicity when it comes to reporting.
Although there are a huge range of options when it comes to fitness activity trackers we have chosen four we believe would be good options for someone working abroad*.
Best for: expats who love to swim

Do you feel most at home in the water? Then this may be the fitness activity tracker for you. Not only is it waterproof, it has a great battery life so you don’t have to worry about charging it all the time either.
  • Waterproof
  • Activity and sleep tracking
  • Stress tracking with guided breathing exercises
  • Compare yourself to other Garmin users in the app
  • Great battery life
  • Good design and comfortable to wear
  • Easy to use interface
  • Small screen
  • Display isn’t as sharp as some offered by other manufacturers


Best for: expats on a budget

Money a little tight? Then this may be the fitness tracker for you. Although it doesn’t have a screen on the wearable as most others do, once you install the app it will track a lot of data. It is also waterproof, so no worries if you want to bring it to the pool.This expat blog is written by a family of three, who were based in Qatar up until late 2017. There is a lot of useful content on the site, particularly for those planning to live in the Middle East. This blog also contains some great reviews of equipment for travelling with babies and young children as well as tips for travelling while pregnant and with the new addition to your family. 
  • Waterproof
  • Integrated workouts in app with useful tips
  • No charging
  • Low cost
  • Can sync data through Facebook
  • No screen on the wearable
  • Little tricky to set up
  • Need to change battery every 6 months
  • No Google Chromecast integration so must watch workouts on phone
  • No indication of how to improve metrics that are ‘out of ideal range’
Best for: expats who are serious athletes

Love to run? This series of wearables may be the right one for you. There are a variety of different models, each one offering something slightly different, from essential running data to advanced running metrics. Although pros and cons vary by model, below are some that are applicable to most.This blog by Keri Hedrick focuses on travel advice, family life and money matters from an expat perspective. If you are wondering how much moving abroad will cost or the kind of salary to expect as an expat, then this is the blog for you and your family.
  • Audio prompts to move if you have been still for too long
  • Tracks important running data
  • Large easy to read screen
  • Smart notifications when you pair it with your smartphone
  • Water resistant
  • Great battery life (two weeks with constant use)
  • Lots of data to analyse
  • Nice design
  • Some models cannot be used for multi-sports
  • The app can provide an overwhelming amount of data
Best for: expats who love Apple products

Are you already kitted out with an iPhone, iPad, MacBook and Apple TV? Then the Apple Watch Series 3 may be the fitness activity tracker for you. Although fitness tracking isn’t its primary function, it is something the newest version of the watch does well. The best news is it can also double up as your phone and wallet so you can leave both at home while you exercise.
  • Waterproof up to 50 meters
  • Does more than just track your fitness; takes calls, plays music, notifications
  • Provides encouragement, reminds you to match or better your previous day’s activity
  • App has integrated workouts
  • Learns your habits
  • New features may shorten battery life
  • Takes a while to get used to the interface
As well as monitoring your fitness while you are working abroad, don’t forget to look after your health with international health insurance from Allianz Partners, International Health.
*Allianz Partners are in no way affiliated with the wearable devices listed above. They are suggestions only. We suggest thoroughly researching the product that is right for you.