Do I need a fitness tracker with GPS?
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Do I need a fitness tracker with GPS?

14/06/2022  |   370 Views

Using a fitness tracker with GPS

A Global Positioning System device is able to constantly track its position using the GPS satellite-based navigation system. When included in a wearable fitness tracker, the GPS chip is able to use its measurements of your position to determine the speed you’re traveling, the distance you’re moving and any elevation changes you’re experiencing.

A fitness tracker uses GPS to track workouts over distances, such as for running, cycling, walking or swimming. GPS is more accurate for measuring distance than a simple step counter. Having GPS capability in a fitness tracker provides data about your level of performance, helping you track your improvement over time.


Understanding how a fitness tracker makes use of GPS

When selecting a fitness tracker, you have the option of picking a model with a built-in GPS chip, such as the Fitbit Charge 4 or the Apple Watch Series 6. You also can select models without GPS tracking, such as the Garmin vívosmart 4.

Here are some of the primary benefits of selecting a fitness tracker with GPS tracking capabilities.


If you have a full color fitness tracker screen with GPS capabilities, you may be able to see maps of the area in which you plan to exercise, helping you plan your route.

You also may be able to create maps of the area where you just completed an exercise session that you then can upload to social media.

For those who religiously track the distances and times they have during their swimming, running or biking workouts, a GPS-enabled fitness tracker is an invaluable tool.

Do I need a fitness tracker with GPS?

Use the data you receive from the fitness tracker to enter your workout results into a fitness journal so you can see your progress. Adding data to the journal from a personal scale about your weight can help keep you motivated, as you'll hopefully see your workout results improve and your weight drop.

With a fitness tracker that has GPS and includes Bluetooth wireless connectivity, such as models like Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, the fitness tracker sends the data it collects to your smartphone, making it even easier to track your workout results.

When you pair the GPS function in your fitness tracker with its stopwatch, you can keep track of your pace in the middle of a swimming, biking or running workout. This can be helpful when training for a particular event, so you aren’t going faster or slower than you expect to be going at a given point in your training.

If your fitness tracker attempts to calculate the number of calories you burned in a particular exercise session, having a GPS capability makes this calculation more accurate.

The calorie-burning calculation needs a number of accurate measurements to work, including your body weight and height, heart rate, time spent exercising, elevation changes encountered and distance traveled. The GPS function ensures that the fitness tracker has the proper elevation and distance measurements, giving your fitness tracker key data points to create the most accurate calories burned calculation.

If you tend to lose track of your surroundings when running or biking, having GPS in your fitness tracker can help you figure out where you’ve been and how to return to the starting point.

Benefits of selecting a fitness tracker without GPS

The primary reason to select a fitness tracker without GPS tracking capabilities is to save some money. Advanced fitness trackers that cost $150 and more often have GPS capabilities, while trackers without GPS tracking typically cost less than $150.

A few other reasons to skip GPS capabilities in the fitness tracker include:

Should I choose a fitness tracker with a GPS?

Ultimately, the decision on deciding whether you want GPS in your fitness tracker depends on your needs and usage plans. Some people prefer to use the GPS capabilities of a smartwatch or smartphone when working out, which negates the need for a fitness tracker with GPS.

However, for those who want precise tracking of their workout performance, having GPS built into the fitness tracker is the easiest way to obtain this type of data. You have to pay a bit extra to gain this feature, but for some people, the convenience of having GPS in the fitness tracker is well worth the additional expense.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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