How To Choose Your GPS Cardio Watch?

Faced with the multitude of sports watches available on the market, which GPS cardio watch to choose?

Whatever sport you practice, from cycling to golf, running, swimming, triathlon, hiking, skiing or sailing at sea, the GPS cardio watch has become a precious ally, even essential. sportsman and leisure enthusiast. The ideal GPS watch allows you to better manage your training, monitor your progress, orient yourself or follow an established route and even optimize the loss of superfluous fat. However, there are many models on the market at prices ranging from a few tens to several hundred euros. How to navigate and choose the best GPS watch according to your objectives? Follow the leader.

The GPS cardio watch comes in a multitude of models, from the low-end GPS watch at a low price, to the very complete high-end model but much more expensive. Choosing a model depends on the use you want to make of it. The type of sport practiced, the objectives sought and the budget to be allocated will guide your choice.

What is a GPS heart rate watch used for?

The heart rate monitor is mainly used to measure the pulse. Knowing your heart rate at all times during an outing is essential to better manage your training, for example by working in a target zone determined according to the objectives to be achieved and the physical condition of the moment. Cardio is a useful tool to measure your form, prepare for a competition, lose weight, check the level of recovery after an effort.

Current cardio watches include functions and accessories that are complementary to the simple pulse reading, such as a GPS, an altimeter, a barometer, a thermometer or a compass. Some carry topographic maps to locate themselves or follow a circuit directly on the map. They can be connected to a computer for data analysis, monitoring progress and programming a training plan, viewing the route traveled or programming a route to follow.

Choosing the right cardio GPS watch: accessories

The cardio watch, as its name suggests, measures the heart rate but it also offers other very useful complementary functions to manage your training well. Apart from the price criterion, it is therefore not easy to choose the model that will best meet your needs. Here is a summary of the main features available on these devices.

With or without GPS? An integrated GPS or a kit?

Most current cardio watches are equipped with an integrated GPS or, more rarely today, sold as a separate kit. The GPS (Global Positioning System) picks up signals from satellites and indicates the position. This type of watch calculates the distance covered, the instantaneous speed, the pace, the difference in altitude. A very useful addition in sports such as jogging, trail running, hiking or swimming at sea where this information is lacking. Models with a memory allow you to program a route to follow and save the route travelled. The latter can then be traced on a computer on the map with the possibility of displaying a satellite view. You thus visualize your course in the smallest details. The GPS function allows you to plan intervals to run for interval or interval training. Data analysis (distance, speed, heart rate) allows you to optimize your training.

The first watches offering a GPS function could not embed the GPS in their case. The latter had to be worn separately in a pocket or armband. This constraint no longer exists thanks to miniaturization but the kit remains interesting with ultra-flat watch models.

Memory: to store your data, music, images, maps…

Entry-level GPS watches with a memory record the data of the route: distance travelled, duration, speed, average, minimum and maximum heart rate, calories burned, data accumulated with those recorded during previous outings, etc. Convenient for tracking your workout. High-end watches offer even more possibilities. They record this data as well as that of your route (position) so that they can then be transferred to your computer or Smartphone for analysis, sharing your outings with your friends, displaying the route on a map and much more. . Conversely, you can program your watch from a computer, for example by creating a training plan or a route to follow.

The memory size will determine the maximum recording time or data accuracy. Thus, for very long outings or use over several days (mountain raid, cycling circuit for example), prefer a model with a relatively large memory. Manufacturers generally specify the maximum recording times on the product description.

The sensor: abdominal belt or optical sensor on the wrist

Today’s watches increasingly offer a heart rate monitor on the wrist. Very practical, it eliminates the need for a chest belt! Heart rate is measured by optical reading via an infrared light signal. The variation in the blood flow generated by the beating of the heart modifies the intensity of the light passing through the skin and thus makes it possible to determine the heart rate. This type of cardio has the advantage of not being sensitive to surrounding parasites (power lines, etc.). However, its accuracy is worse than that of a belt and it generally does not work underwater. Measurements on the wrist are less reliable (light passes more or less well depending on hairiness, perspiration, more or less good contact between the watch and the skin) and are very inconsistent when doing interval training.

The ideal is to choose a watch equipped with an optical sensor on the wrist but also allowing it to be coupled with a cardio thoracic belt or to be placed on the arm. The belt fastens around the chest. It is generally made of more or less flexible plastic or fabric that perfectly fits the thorax.

PC link: via USB, infrared, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Smart

The best GPS cardio watches allow you to store your route data (heart rate, speed, distance, altitude, route, etc. recorded at regular intervals) to transfer them later to your computer or Smartphone. But also, to program a route or a training session on your computer and then transfer this data to your cardio watch. Data exchange can be done via a USB cable, an infrared wireless link, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The USB cable has the advantage of being practical and of working very well, but it means that the watch has a suitable plug which must remain waterproof. The infrared system does not have this problem but it requires good alignment between transmitter and sensor and no longer works when the batteries are at the end of their life. Thus, the data exchange fails while the watch can still operate for a few weeks or even a few months. Newer watches, with improved and less power-consuming technology, offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.

The support: wrist or bike support

The cardio watch is usually worn around the wrist. But for activities such as cycling, mountain biking, spinning bikes or even ellipticals, it is better to choose a model sold with a handlebar support. So your data can be consulted at any time and without danger.

Waterproofing: from splashing water to use under water

Cardio watches are resistant to humidity and perspiration, even splashing water, at least as long as the seal is in good condition (before the arrival of GPS, watches were equipped with a simple button battery that had to be changed by the manufacturer to guarantee water resistance). GPS watches, on the other hand, should not be used in water unless otherwise specified. For underwater use (swimming, diving for example), choose a waterproof model and check the maximum depth indicated by the manufacturer. Be careful, do not rely on the indications given in meters (waterproof to 100 meters, etc.) which are only theoretical. In reality, the pressures exerted are much higher because of the movements. So, a 30m (3 ATM) waterproof watch can actually only be used in the shower, not even for swimming. For swimming, it needs water resistance to 50m (5 ATM) and 100m (10 ATM) for diving in shallow water.

Other accessories: pedometer, accelerometer…

Some cardios offer alternative or complementary solutions to GPS, such as the pedometer (foot pod) which counts the number of steps taken, or the accelerometer which measures the acceleration and makes it possible to deduce the speed, therefore the distance traveled. The gyroscope is also used to detect movement. It can thus extrapolate the GPS readings in battery saving mode (less use of the GPS) to refine the precision of the measurements.

Cardio watches for women

Although sports watches are designed for mixed use, manufacturers are increasingly considering the design and size of their watches to encourage their around-the-clock use for health tracking in addition to sports use. More and more non-athletic people are indeed buying a cardio watch to stay in shape or better know their daily calorie expenditure. An elegant watch that matches the dress will be easier to wear in town than a watch with a sporty look. Women’s watches feature a smaller case size, therefore better suited to thin wrists, as well as an elegant design.

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