From smartphones to fitness gadgets, there seems to be a device for everything. While these gadgets can be helpful, it’s easy to get carried away and collect more than you need. If you’re trying to simplify your setup, look no further than your smartphone for a multi-tool that can take the place of many health and fitness gadgets. Further, by doubling up on your smartphone’s functionality, you can save money and reduce clutter.
Table of Contents
1. Running and Cycling GPS Devices
Running and cycling GPS devices such as the Garmin Edge 830 are popular tools for tracking workouts and improving performance. What I like about the Garmin Edge 830, for example, is that it features turn-by-turn directions and can be mounted on my mountain bike’s handlebars. It’s also designed to withstand the elements and bumps of the trail.
To use a dedicated GPS tracker, you simply turn it on, select your activity (running, cycling, etc.), and start your workout. The device will track your route, speed, distance, and other metrics, providing you with real-time information. While dedicated GPS devices can be handy tools, many smartphones have built-in GPS capabilities that can do many of the same tasks, including tracking your route, speed, calories burned, distance covered, and more.
Additionally, handlebar mounts such as the Quad Lock provide a reliable, secure way to mount a smartphone on a bike’s handlebars. And with smartphones coming in rugged and waterproof versions, it might make more sense to replace your tiny-screened cycling computer with a dedicated biking smartphone app.
Strava is one of the most popular apps for runners and cyclists. With over 50 million downloads on the Google Play Store, the app features everything you’d expect in terms of metrics tracking but also offers features like challenges, leaderboards, and personalized training plans.
If you’re a mountain biker, Trailforks is an essential app. And for runners, check out Nike Run Club or MapMyRun.
Download: Trailforks for iOS | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
2. Smart Mirror Home Gyms
Smart mirror home gyms are a new and exciting trend. They are feature-rich and nice if you can afford them. They consist of a high-tech mirror that doubles as a workout screen and allows you to stream live and on-demand workouts directly from your home. Popular brands include Mirror and Tonal.
To use a smart mirror home gym, all you need to do is turn on the device, select a workout type and length, and start exercising. Some mirrors provide feedback on your form and progress, and many devices also offer personalized training plans and progress tracking.
While smart mirror home gyms offer a unique and immersive workout experience, they can also be expensive and require dedicated space in your home—even if it’s just a space on an empty wall.
As an alternative, there are many fitness apps for smartphones that offer similar features and can even be used with smart TVs. By adding a few free weights, you can create a workout experience that is almost as good as the very expensive smart mirror home gyms.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the fitness apps that offer live and on-demand fitness classes, as well as other apps with guided workouts using nothing but your body weight. One popular fitness app is Nike Training Club, which features everything from high-intensity interval training to yoga and Pilates. The app integrates with multiple Apple devices and can also be streamed to your TV using AirPlay.
Download: Nike Training Club for iOS | Android (Free)
Pedometers are small devices that track your steps throughout the day. These devices are small and lightweight that can be clipped onto your clothing or carried in your pocket. They use accelerometers to track your steps, as well as distance traveled and sometimes calories burned.
Some devices, including the popular Fitbit Zip, let you sync with companion apps on your smartphone to see your step count and other data. While pedometers can be useful for tracking your activity, most smartphones have built-in accelerometers that can do much of the same thing. By using a pedometer app on your smartphone, you can track your steps and other activity data without the need for an additional device.
The Step Counter – Pedometer app has over 50 million downloads and 4.9 stars on the Google Play Store. After downloading the app, you don’t even have to open it to track your steps—you can instead install a widget on your home screen that shows your step count. Other popular options include Google Fit and The Pedometer – Step Counter.
Download: Step Counter – Pedometer for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
4. White Noise Machines
White noise machines produce soothing sounds to help you relax and sleep better. These machines typically generate a constant, low-level sound that is designed to mask other noises and create the kind of environment that encourages sleep.
They come in various shapes and sizes, from small portable devices to larger, more sophisticated machines. Some popular brands include Marpac, LectroFan, and HoMedics. These brands often feature different sound options, such as white noise, pink noise, brown noise, and other calming sounds like ocean waves or rain. Some machines also come with additional features, such as timers or automatic shut-offs.
While white noise machines can be effective in creating a peaceful sleep environment, there are many white noise apps for Android that offer similar features. And, of course, you can download iPhone apps that use white noise to help you sleep, as well.
Apps like Better Sleep, White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds, and Tide offer a range of sounds and customization options, such as the ability to mix and match different sounds to create a unique sleep environment. Many also offer additional features like timers, alarms, and even guided meditations to help you relax and fall asleep more easily.
Download: Better Sleep: Sleep tracker for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Consider Replacing Health and Wellness Gadgets With Your Smartphone
While dedicated fitness gadgets like smart mirror home gyms and GPS devices offer advanced features, many fitness apps offer most of the same functionality. From pedometer apps to virtual workout classes, smartphones have become powerful tools for tracking your activity, improving your athletic performance, and even staying motivated. With the right apps and perhaps a few accessories, you can have the features of expensive gadgets by using nothing but your existing smartphone.