Gadgets to help you get fit
Get up to speed with fitness tech in a just a few minutes with our everything-you-need-to-know guide
A new generation of wearable technology has arrived with the sole purpose of motivating us to get fit and lead healthier lifestyles.
In this guide we'll explain what wearable fitness tech actually is, highlight some key products and ask the opinion of experts.
Fitness tech is a form of wearable technology. Wearables are the hottest property in tech this year, and also include smartwatches and web-connected glasses like Google Glass. More than 70% of people are already aware of wearables, according to analyst Nielsen.
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Different types of fitness tech
- Count the steps you take, calories you burn and distance you cover during your daily routine or while doing things like running
- Hook up with a smartphone app to track your progress
- The most popular wearable tech device - accounting for 61% of overall wearable devices
- Sports watches designed to track your performance while running, swimming or cycling
- Track your time, distance and pace - and even heart rate
- Measure against past performances and set goals for future ones
How can fitness gadgets benefit me?
Beginning a fitness plan can be hard, but that's nothing compared to maintaining it. With a fitness watch or band you have the motivation to hit the road on a cold, rainy morning.
- 57% of people who had bought fitness bands said the ability to self-monitor was a major factor
- See how you're improving run by run, week by week
- You can also share your results across social media and compete with friends
- Source of constant feedback and encouragement
Andy Silver, senior product manager at Garmin, maker of wearable fitness devices, said: "We all know about gym memberships, diets and other new year's resolutions falling by the wayside by mid-February.
"The basic reason behind this is that people can't see the results and struggle to stay motivated.
"Having a simple-to-use watch or other device that tracks your activity, shows you your improvements and lets you challenge your friends is a really effective way of building motivation while encouraging you to keep going on your fitness plan."
Four of the best fitness gadgets
1) Jawbone UP24 - fitness band
- Cool, comfortable and non-techy design
- Ability to wirelessly sync data with the app
- Setting daily challenges to sleep better/exercise more
Want fitness without compromising on fashion? The Jawbone UP24 is the way to go. The stylish red rubber band could pass for some kind of hipster bracelet to be worn alongside passes for Glastonbury.
But as well as looking good it's also very clever when it comes to tracking your health and fitness.
It can monitor the steps you have taken and the calories you have burned while out and about and sync them to the corresponding smartphone app wirelessly, via Bluetooth.
From there you can compare your latest performance with previous ones and monitor your progress.
It also tracks your sleep in the same way - and can tell when you're sound asleep, restless or awake.
The app also has a cool feature whereby you set yourself daily challenges, such as to get more sleep or take more exercise.
It's also very comfortable, weighing no more than 20g wrapped in soft red rubber. You'll soon forget you even have it on.
2) TomTom Multi Sport Cardio - sports watch
- Heart rate monitor that lets you know whether you need to slow down or speed up your run
- Wireless syncing your latest run data to your smartphone
- GPS to track your location on running routes
Serious about running? Then this TomTom watch is for you. With
it you can track your latest run and see how you're performing in
The data syncs wirelessly to your phone - monitor your progress by comparing it with previous runs.
It also has a heart rate monitor to tell you whether you need to speed up or slow down during your workout.
Find a heart rate monitor a bit faddy?
Rebecca Cox, Reps Level 3 personal trainer, said: "The quicker your heart rate comes down in the rest period after high intensity, the less rest you have. Essentially, as you progress, it makes you work harder by showing you exactly what your body is capable of - so you're not cheating yourself."
It also has GPS, so you can track your progress along specific running routes.
3) Garmin VivoFit - fitness band
- Battery lasts for a whole year
- Always-on display for seeing your latest data
- Waterproof design
A fitness band designed for the casual fitness fan.
It has its own screen on which you can see data from your daily exercise - tracking the steps you take, the calories you burn and the distance you travel.
The screen is always-on too, so you don't have to try and switch it on mid-run. t boasts a battery that lasts longer than a year and is waterproof.
Upload your data onto the smartphone app and compare with your previous run.
4) Withings Pulse - activity tracker
- Heart rate monitor
- Lightweight device that can be used with or without a wristband
- Automatically throws data to your smartphone app
- Display for checking out how many steps you've taken without loading the smartphone app
- Separate jogging feature
The Withings Pulse is slightly different. Rather than being a
complete wristband, it is a tiny rectangular device that you place
inside a wristband, pop in your pocket or clip on your
This tiny device may weigh just 8g, but it packs in a lot of features designed to give you a comprehensive overview of how well you are exercising on an everyday basis - whether running or out for a walk.
It tracks steps taken, calories burned and stairs climbed - and
has a separate jogging mode. It is one of the few fitness trackers
to include a heart rate monitor, to give a better idea of your
fitness after working out.
It also has a tiny screen to show data without having to use the smartphone app. Data is automatically synced to the smartphone app though, so when you want to compare your recent results it's very easy.
Do you use a fitness gadget to keep in shape? Tell us what your favourite thing about it is in the comments below...