March 27, 2012 at 8:20 AM ET
Technology, they say, marches on but for fitness-focused travelers, it also runs, bikes and swims. Thanks to a slew of new gadgets, it’s easier than ever to monitor — and, hopefully, maintain — your fitness routines when away from home.
“When you’re traveling, exercise can help your immune system and improve your mental productivity,” said fitness blogger Ben Greenfield, aka The Get-Fit Guy at QuickAndDirtyTips.com. “Logging your workouts can provide more motivation to work out.”
And thanks to the development of new wireless technologies, such as ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart Ready, monitoring those workouts is getting easier all the time. “Logging with technology is very convenient,” said Greenfield. “You no longer need to jot your heart rate down in a notepad or on your hand while you’re running.”
For travelers hoping to maintain their fitness routines, the following five gadgets are just what the sports doctor ordered:
Talk about visualizing your workout. The Sportiiiis ($199) is a small device that attaches to a pair of sunglasses and uses LEDs to track your speed, heart rate and other performance data. Once you’ve programmed your target rates and paired the unit with the appropriate ANT+ device, such as a heart-rate strap (not included), attach the boom-like unit to your glasses and go. The LEDs blink green if you’re in the zone, yellow if you drop below it and orange or red if you start overdoing it.
GPS Sports Watch
New destinations mean new, and often, unfamiliar running routes. The new GPS Sports Watch ($307) from Pyle can help keep you on track by providing directions to the coordinates you set, along with data on your current speed and estimated time of arrival. Pair it with the wireless chest strap (included) and you can monitor your heart rate along the way.
Hydro Tracker GPS
Counting laps in the hotel pool? Piece of cake. Monitoring your workout in open water? That’s a little trickier, unless you’re sporting the new Hydro Tracker GPS ($130) from Finis. Attach the unit to your goggle strap and it’ll record your route in real-time. Afterwards, upload the data to an online training log and you can view it on Google Earth, analyze your performance and even watch a time-lapse animation of your progress.
According to the folks at Wahoo Fitness, the Blue HR heart rate monitor ($80) is the first chest-strap unit to use the new Bluetooth Smart Ready technology, which lets you sync low-energy devices directly to compatible smartphones. Strap it on and your phone will display your data either through Wahoo’s free app or via apps you already have, including RunKeeper and MapMyRide. Alas, the iPhone 4S is currently the only Smart Ready phone on the market, although others are expected later this year.
More attuned to everyday users than ultramarathoners, the just-released eSport Clip MP3/video player ($22) from eMatic packs a lot of features into a travel-friendly form. Clip it on your sleeve and you can listen to 2,300 songs, watch 20 hours of video (or shoot your own) and play it all back on the 1.8 inch screen. True, it won’t monitor your performance like the other products listed here, but hey, if cueing up LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” doesn’t inspire you to get out and get moving, we don’t know what will.
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.