Fitness Tech Guide
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic all year round or plan to get in better shape, this article shows how some great pieces of tech can help you keep track of your fitness simply and effectively. Keeping you motivated to achieve your goals whether that’s simply getting a bit fitter or running a marathon.
Lots of in-depth gadgets are targeted to help with specific sports, but a great starting point if you just want to improve your fitness level gently is a fitness tracker. Discreet and stylish, they’re designed to be worn like a watch to track what activity you’re doing on a daily basis.
You can track how many steps you’re taking throughout the day, how many calories you’re burning and how much sleep you’re getting. You can also input your food intake to make sure you’re eating well. Discreet vibrations can give you a gentle nudge when you’ve been still for too long to encourage you to get up and move around. Some models will even link up to your phone and give you alerts when you receive emails, social media notifications and texts.
Is this tech right for me?
If you’re a serious runner or swimmer or just getting started, then a fitness watch is a great way to track your progress. A step up from a fitness tracker, they count similar information with a whole host of extras. With digital screens to display up to the minute stats, they’re a great motivator for keeping going towards your goals.
You’ll find them slightly bigger than a fitness tracker but they come in a range of styles and colours to suit all tastes and can still be worn as a normal watch. Here are the sorts of features you can expect to find on them:
GPS – most fitness watches use GPS technology to track your exercise, from how far you’ve travelled to the route you’ve taken.
Personal goals – set what goals you want to achieve and receive notifications when you’ve reached them.
Tracking your progress – if you’re serious about your fitness then you’ll want to see how you’re progressing from day to day, week to week or even year on year. Some watches will store this information to help you build up a picture over time.
Social interaction – lots of people enjoy sharing their fitness stories and achievements with friends and there’s no easier way than doing this than in the world of social media. All GPS models will track where you’ve been running and a lot of them will also allow you to upload this to social media or link up with other likeminded fitness fanatics in a targeted online community. Some will let you connect wirelessly, others will even upload live data when you’re running. With more basic models you’ll need a wire to connect them.
Using indoors – the majority of devices for runners are designed for measuring outdoor running (unless you buy an extra accessory) but some models will allow you to track progress indoors on a treadmill without the need for any extra bits and pieces.
Additional accessories – some will allow you to connect additional pieces of equipment such as a heart rate monitor so you can measure extra stats.
Multi-sport – if your primary focus is one specific sport then you’re better off getting one with features targeted to this. However, if you’re an all-rounder, multi-sport options work whether you’re running, cycling or swimming.
More than just a Fitness Tracker
If you’re setting off on long bike rides, the last thing you want is to be worrying about where you’re going. With GPS tracking devices, you can set up your route just like on a car sat nav, clip it to a mount on the front of your bike and off you go. Here are some of the handy features you’ll find on these devices.
Pre-set or random routes – certain devices will give you the freedom to choose a pre-set route or to set off and ride. If you just want to ride without a set route in mind, you’ll always have a way of knowing where you are and how to get home. Pre-set modes will allow you to choose pre-programmed routes which have been picked out especially for cyclists and will also allow you to choose the type of terrain you want to cycle over.
Progress tracking – just like with a watch for running some GPS cycling devices can track how fast you’re going and how far you’ve travelled as well as things like elevation and heart rate.
Motivation – if you’re cycling alone and need some extra motivation look out for devices with pre-set workouts and training courses so you have something to aim for during your cycling session.
Online features – just like the fitness watches, some models let you share your adventures in a dedicated online community or via social media. You can share your favourite routes with others and download new ones to try out from other users.
Silence is golden, but not when exercising
Music is a great motivator for long workouts. There’s nothing worse than using headphones which aren’t up to the rough and tumble of exercising, so here are some of the key features you should look out for:
Good fit – normal in-ear headphones are likely to become dislodged under the activity level from a high intensity workout. Look for ones with TwistLock™ technology which come with a guarantee that they’ll never fall out and ear hooks which keep them firmly in place.
Sweat proof – this is part and parcel of exercise and can reduce the lifespan of headphones. Sweat can also be one of the main reasons your headphones could be prone to slipping out of your ears.
Wireless connectivity – wires can be annoying and get in the way while you’re on the go. Pick headphones which can connect wirelessly to your music device to avoid getting tangled up. Just make sure you look for ones with a long battery life if you plan on doing long distance training.
Waterproof – if you want to listen to your music when swimming then make sure your headphones are waterproof. Also good for protecting against the great British weather if you’re exercising outdoors.
Background noise – while at any other time you'd probably want to block out as much of your surroundings as possible, if you’re running or cycling on busy roads then you need to ensure you’re still aware of what’s going on around you whilst enjoying your music. An open earpiece design can help you achieve this.
Integrated microphone and remote – these let you control your music without having to get your device out and interrupting the flow of your workout. It will also allow you to take calls from your phone while on the move.
Headband – for an alternative to regular headphones, headband style ones look like a sweatband and have discreet speakers stitched in. A fun and different two-in-one fitness aid.