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Fitness Gadgets – Whats the Difference?

Fitness Gadgets: Pedometers, Heart Rate Monitors and GPS Watches

Once upon a time (no it’s not a fairy tale) getting fit was fairly simple. You took yourself off for a run and hoped you wouldn’t collapse in a heap. These days fitness is becoming very technological with the use of pedometers, heart rate monitors and GPS watches to monitor your performance. And this is just a sample of what is available! The question is, are these gadgets beneficial and do you really need them in order to get fit and improve your performance?




Pedometers are nifty little devices used to measure the number of steps you take each day. Clipped to your belt, pedometers can be worn all day and the number of steps converted to kilometres or meters so you can work out how active you have been.


Many health professionals recommend that adults take 10,000 steps a day in order to maintain good health. A pedometer is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to keep track of how much exercise you are doing, especially if you find it difficult to plan regular exercise.


Pedometers can be very motivational, allowing people to see just  how much walking they are doing each day. There are many websites and applications available where people can then upload or enter their daily totals to keep track of their progress – particularly good for someone who is trying to lose weight.


Pedometers come in a variety of styles and at a variety of prices and these days, can be found integrated into mobile phones and other devices such as the iPod Nano, Nintendo DS and the Nike+iPod sports kit.


Heart Rate Monitors


In days past, if you wanted to know your heart rate while exercising you would need to stop what you were doing and measure you pulse either at your neck or your wrist. Thankfully, there is now a much easier way of checking your heart rate during exercise and you no longer need to stop what you are doing.


Heart rate monitors come in a variety of designs with a multitude of functions but two basic elements remain the same: a chest strap and a watch receiver. The chest strap (as the name suggests) fits around the chest and picks up the electrical impulses in the heart. These impulses are then transmitted to the watch receiver where your heart rate will appear on the screen. When fitted properly, heart rate monitors are very accurate at monitoring your heart rate.


Heart rate monitors range from the most basic with just the time, heart rate and training zones available on the watch display, up to the most sophisticated with the ability to calculate breathing rate, speed and distance, which can then be uploaded to doctors, personal trainers, and other websites to monitor your progress.


Heart rate monitors are beneficial for many people from beginners to athletes, allowing you to keep a check on how hard you are working and making sure you are working at the right level. If you are serious about getting fit or training for an event then a heart rate monitor is a worthwhile investment.


GPS Watches


New to the fitness realm, GPS watches are another ‘fitness gadget’ that you can purchase. Aside from their navigational properties which are certainly helpful when training on the streets (especially if you are in an unfamiliar area), GPS watches often contain other devices such as: time keeping, tracking your route, heart rate monitor, stride meter, transition monitor (for sports such as triathlons), training programs and map displays.


GPS watches are especially beneficial to athletes as it allows them to provide essential information to their trainers or coaches, which helps to plan their training programs.


When it comes to ‘fitness gadgets’, there is a wide choice available and what you choose will depend on your personal needs. If you are just starting out and want to improve your health, a pedometer will help you reach your daily step targets so you can see how much exercise you are doing. If you are somewhat more serious, training for an event, or just what to make sure you are training correctly, a heart rate monitor is a great option, especially as you can set training heart rate zones. For dedicated athletes, a GPS watch will certainly enhance your training and provide important information to your trainer/coach to help plan your training program.


While it is not essential to purchase a ‘fitness gadget’ in order to achieve great results, doing so can be very beneficial to your training. The choice is yours when it comes to what type to purchase but once you buy one, you’ll wonder how you ever trained without it.