Anick Jesdanun, AP
In simpler times, maintaining good health was a matter of joining a gym or lacing up running shoes for a lap in the park. At most, you'd buy a watch with a digital display so you could time your laps. These days, a range of gadgets can help boost your workouts, and I'm not talking about iPods that distract you as you lift weights or sprint to nowhere on a treadmill. Technology can now track your exercise progress, count calories and more.
Fitness enthusiasts may appreciate some of these gift ideas.
Garmin Forerunner 310XT ($350; with heart rate monitor, $400)
Since 2003, I've been using GPS devices to keep track of how far I've run and how fast I'm going. Some even try to keep me on pace, beeping endlessly when I'm short of my goal. A new Garmin model offers longer battery life and is waterproof to about 165’. Unfortunately, this model shares a major limitation with all GPS gadgets: they don't work indoors and tall buildings can distort signals from the satellites.
Nike Plus SportsBand ($59)
Nike and Apple teamed up in 2006 to create a fitness platform that offers many of the benefits of GPS devices, without needing a good signal. A small sensor fits snugly into a slot built into some Nike shoes and sends data wirelessly to an iPod Nano, iPod Touch or iPhone 3GS to track and display your pace and distance. The SportsBand, with small updates this year, lets you ditch the Apple device. So if you don’t want an iPhone or iPod, this standalone unit is a decent alternative. However, you still need Nike shoes, which may not be a good fit for all runners. Other companies make a specially designed pouch that attaches to your shoelaces with Velcro, but the contraption doesn't work as well.
Coheso CalorieSmart CS-100S ($80)
Keeping fit isn't all about owning the latest GPS device. CalorieSmart is a handheld calorie counter that resembles a pocket calculator. Type in what you're eating, and the device looks up nutritional data and logs your day's calories. Type in your exercise, and the device calculates calories burned. The version out this year is lighter and smaller — the size of a deck of playing cards — and has a larger database of nutritional information. For $59, you can also get the CS-80S, which lacks a USB port for transferring data to a computer. Additionally, the $20 CS-NL100 offers nutritional lookup for individual items, but doesn't log your meals or keep track of calories.