The Complete Guide To Wearable Technology

From sleep-tracking to route-mapping, wearable technology can help you get fit and improve your game. Learn more about these gadgets with our guide.

Wearable technology provides powerful insight into your training or everyday activity levels—helping you form better habits and reach new personal bests.

Plus, they’re the ultimate way to ensure your workout is effective. Use this guide to find the wearable technology that’s right for your fit routine.

FITNESS TRACKERS & ACTIVITY TRACKERS 

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Fitness trackers are wristbands or pocket devices that keep tabs on your day-to-day activity levels. They track steps, distance and calories burned, and many devices can even monitor sleep cycles and gently wake you in the morning.

Trackers are lightweight, easy to use and perfect for people looking to live a more active lifestyle. Many of today’s fitness trackers wirelessly sync data to your smartphone, so you can easily access your health info on the go.

“I think people generally want to be healthier and want more information about themselves and their day-to-day lives,” said Brett Phillips, a senior electronics buyer at DICK’S Sporting Goods. “And more and more these devices are becoming fashionable.”

The latest fitness trackers come in sleek, low-profile bands in a variety of colors.

Tip: Industry-wide, these devices are called both fitness trackers and activity trackers. These terms are generally interchangeable for any wearable device that tracks physical and daily activities.  

HEART RATE MONITORS

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Heart rate monitors measure heart rate in real time, and they’re best suited for dedicated athletes who need to maintain a certain heart rate during training.

“Heart rate monitors are great for avid athletes who are utilizing their heart rate for training,” Phillips said.

There are two types: Chest strap heart rate monitors and strapless monitors:

  • Chest-strap heart rate monitors fasten around your torso and wirelessly transmit heart rate data to a wrist receiver, so you can easily access data as you move.
  • Strapless models use optical tracking, via a built-in sensor, to monitor heart rate. They’re lightweight, easy to wear and don’t cause the wireless interference sometimes associated with chest strap models. They are, however, less accurate.

RUNNING WATCHES 

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Running watches include simple features that help you make the most of your course. Functions like alarms, lap counters, interval timers and training logs keep you in-tune on every mile.

Your running watch should feature a waterproof and shock-resistant casing for durability. Large, backlit screens are easy to read when you’re on the move.

GPS WATCHES 

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GPS watches help you navigate your running route with the touch of a button, tracking speed, distance and routes. Like running watches, they feature timers, alarms and logs. Unlike running watches, they can also help you map out new courses.

Most GPS watches are weatherproof, and many can even be submerged in water, which is great for swim training.