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How Much Gear Do You Really Need to Get Fit? 

The New Year is upon us, and hand-in-hand with the break of January is a break into New Year’s Resolutions. For the next month or two, gym memberships will be on the rise and people who want to take control of their bodies will start shelling out for every Fitness tracker and high-end water bottle the market has to offer. But how much of this fitness gear do you actually need to get your body in shape? Here’s the low-down on some of the most popular fitness gadgets on the market.

Heart Rate Monitors

The idea behind a Heart Rate monitor is sound. When you’re working out, you want to be increasing your cardiovascular stamina and fitness. Any health professional will tell you that there is a heart rate zone you should be in when you’re working out for optimal fitness. Buying a wrist heart rate monitor, therefore, seems like a natural choice. But recent studies show that wrist heart rate monitors are not particularly accurate, and should not be used to make medical decisions, but as just an indication of whether your heart rate is going in the basic direction you want it to be going in. It can be useful to show you if your heart rate suddenly drops, for example, or spikes higher than is normal for you, but it shouldn’t really be used to try to gauge whether you’re in your optimal fitness zone.

Heart Rate Monitors

So how should you actually gauge that? Listen to your body. If you can still easily talk through your workout, you can probably stand to push yourself a little more. If, on the other hand, you feel dizzy or nauseated, you should pull back some.

Calorie Trackers

Another classic way we’ve been taught to measure our fitness is the Calories In vs Calories Out method. This method of healthy living says that as long as you’re burning more Calories than you’re consuming, you’re bound to lose weight. The problem with this method is that Calories are notoriously hard to keep track of. Not only do we not actually know exactly how many Calories every person needs, but food labels can be off up to 20% in either direction. Meanwhile, companies are selling Calorie trackers like crazy, as if a wrist tracker can tell how hard you’re exerting yourself or how many Calories you’re burning by how many times your wrist bumps up and down. Not only do Calories burn differently for people of different sizes, genders, and lifestyles, but these sorts of Calorie trackers can also be thrown off by bumpy car rides or a person’s tendency to fidget. In fact, fitness trackers have been shown to overestimate Calories burned in a workout by up to 40%, making them essentially useless if you’re trying to do complicated Calorie-related mathematic equations.

So how should you track Calories in vs. Calories out? Unfortunately, there is no easy way to track this. Instead, the key is to eat sensibly and work out regularly.

Fitness Machines

Treadmills, standing bikes, and step machines are all marketed at increasing weight loss. Easy access to these machines is half the reason people go to the gym. But how necessary are they, really? At the end of the day, fitness machines are more of a convenience than a necessity. Regular walks or bike rides in your neighborhood, or simply walking up and down the stairs in your home, can have the same effect. That’s not to say that fitness machines are useless. If you live in a climate that makes it difficult to get outside, for example, they can offer a powerful way to work out in your living room in the middle of the night. But these machines can be viewed more as a luxury of the fitness world than a necessity.

So What Gear Do You Need? 

The great thing about fitness is that the only thing you really need to make it work is yourself: Your body, your perseverance, and your passion for success. That being said, supportive shoes, comfortable, sweat-wicking clothing, and a water bottle are all great ways to make your workouts easier and more comfortable. Any gear above and beyond that can be helpful for you to learn more about your body and to build your trust with it, but it’s not 100% necessary to get in shape.

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