Newcomers start here pedometers and GPSIf you are taking your first tentative steps towards fitness then you could well be looking for some kit to help monitor progress and give your training a little oomph. We’ve reviewed some great fitness gear at FitTechnica, and there’s plenty on offer for the beginner looking for some electronic wizardry to help them get started and keep them motivated.

Here we take you on a short tour of some of our favourite pedometers and GPS watches. These are the ideal support tech for anyone who wants to put running into their fitness mix.

Pedometers can be a good way to start on the fitness trail. They’re not as accurate as GPS units, but they are easy to use, work indoors and outside, and can have some great added extras. Take Fitbit, for example. Devices in this range can monitor your sleep patterns, gather information about your food and water intake, give you badges when you reach milestones, and let you share progress with friends. Read our reviews of the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. Fitbit isn’t the only player in the pedometer game with the Nike+ FuelBand proving to be one of the most popular activity trackers on the market. And most recently, we’ve reviewed the  excellent Withings Pulse, which offers unparalleled functionality coupled with a comprehensive app-based ecosystem.

What to look for in a pedometer:

  • Easy to wear – Wristband or good clothing clip that won’t fall off.
  • Long battery life – Five days or more is ideal so you don’t need to keep recharging
  • Auto uploading – Syncing to the web when you come in range of your wireless modem.
  • App syncing – Being able to sync anywhere, anytime through your smartphone.
  • Built-in display – Easy to view data on the device’s screen.
  • Simple charging – Avoid proprietary connectors at all costs.
  • Motivation – Gives you rewards when you reach goals.

To get real accuracy measuring distance and pace you will need to go for GPS rather than a pedometer. The good news is that a basic GPS watch isn’t that expensive. The Garmin Forerunner 10 for example, costs around £90 and will do lap timing and give you a virtual training partner to match for speed. It even uploads data to the online Garmin Connect service, which gives you mapping and oodles of analysis options.

If you really want to monitor your fitness levels, though, you need to add in heart rate monitoring. This will up the price but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. The Bryton Cardio 40 costs around £150 and again gives you the ability to upload to an online portal that offers mapping and lots of analysis features.

What to look for in a GPS and GPS/Heart rate monitor combo:

  • Good battery life – At least enough for a few sessions before charging.
  • Easy HRM pairing – You just want to get out and train.
  • Fast GPS fix – You don’t have to hang around before every run.
  • Easy data upload – Cable, wireless, whatever, as long as it’s quick and simple.
  • Online portal – Training diary, data curves, mapping etc.
  • Sharing – Being able to connect with others and share experiences.

Of course you don’t need either a GPS or a pedometer to start getting into running. But if you want to monitor how you’re doing over time they are invaluable. And if you get beyond jogging and start thinking about training for a race, your performance could really benefit from the investment.