Want to Measure Progress? Here Are 4 Fitness Gadgets for the Gym

torsos of two people looking at smart watches
Fitness trackers can provide key information about your workout, such as time spent and intensity.

by Steven Auger

Gadgets run many aspects of our lives -- from starting cars remotely to enabling you to doing your banking or ordering food right from your phone. It was only a matter of time before technology worked its way into the fitness world. Here are some fitness gadgets for the gym that your fellow gym-goers might be sporting.

1. Pedometer

A pedometer is a small electronic device that easily clips to your belt meant to track the number of steps you take throughout your day. The common recommendation is to walk 10,000 steps per day.

Studies have shown that pedometer users tend to be more active while decreasing body fat, increasing their fitness level and improving their blood pressure. Harvard Medical School reportsthat a good pedometer costs as little as $25.00. If you see someone at your gym walking on a treadmill while hooked up to something, it's likely a pedometer.

2. Digital Fitness Trackers

While a basic pedometer is great for counting steps, a digital fitness tracker can record how fast and far you walked, at what intensity and for how long, says Heidi Godman, the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Godman reports that three factors — accountability, accuracy and motivation — are what make a digital fitness tracker superior to a pedometer.

3. Heart Rate Monitor

When most people think about muscles, biceps or pecs probably come to mind. But the heart is a muscle too, and like any muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. So it's important to understand your heart rate, or the number of times it beats per minute, according to Active. Using a heart rate monitor when you exercise lets you see just how hard your heart is or isn't working.

A typical heart rate monitor consists of a wristwatch and a transmitter. The transmitter is held in place over the heart by an adjustable strap. Your heart rate is displayed on the watch apparatus as a percentage of your maximum heart rate, or the peak amount of beats your heart can manage at your highest exertion level. In addition, treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes usually have heart rate monitors on them as well. For those who don't have a device, these can be good barometers of your heart rate as well. Heart rate monitors can track total workout time and total calories burned, along with maximum and average heart rate percentages.

4. Sleep Trackers

Sleep is a critical part of staying healthy, and getting enough shut-eye is especially important if you're trying to lose weight. Have you wondered how well you sleep? According to the National Sleep Foundation, a sleep tracker measures the quantity and quality of sleep using a method known as actigraphy. A sleep tracker that incorporates actigraphy measures movement while you catch those z's.

Different sleep trackers employ various methods to measure your sleep. One variety has you sleep on top of a thin sensor that's placed under your fitted sheet. Others come in the form of a wristband or bracelet, while some require you to wear a heart rate monitor. These devices measure total time asleep, time spent in the different sleep cycles, heart rate, how often you wake up and even how long it took you to fall asleep. Using one might even give you an idea of whether or not you sleep better after you've worked out on a given day.

Technology now allows you to track and chart exactly how hard you exercise and the benefits of that effort. More and more people have turned to fitness gadgets for the gym to help maximize their performance. If you've ever been curious about this type of technology, first figure out your fitness goals and then determine the best gadget to help you meet them.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.