Do I Need a GPS Tracker on My Fitness Tracking Device?

Do I Need a GPS Tracker on My Fitness Tracking Device?
Only having one GPS tracker to share among friends makes for some inventive fitness strategies. [Image by DVIDSHUB via Flickr]
There are two major trains of thought when it comes to the humble GPS tracker. Some think that it’s all part of an elaborate plot enacted by Big Brother to follow our every move (I know it sounds crazy, but…), and others tend to believe in a more benevolent purpose: to accurately — and automatically — assess where we are and how we can get to where we need to be without the assistance of bulky and awkward paper maps that no one can ever re-fold the right way again. For all of its applications — malignant or benign — the GPS tracker is a powerful tool. For the less cynical and more health conscious among us, a GPS tracker can be a valuable asset when used in conjunction with a fitness tracking device like the Fitbit.

No GPS Tracker = Expensive Pedometer

I’d venture to say that having a GPS tracker keeping tabs on your activity is the whole point of buying a modern fitness tracking device in the first place — otherwise, you’ve really just got an expensive pedometer. Not that there’s anything wrong with pedometers, but if you’re going to spend the dough on something that tracks your steps, it should go the extra mile (hey, you are!) and give you a little more data that will help quantify not only the cost of the device, but the effectiveness of your health regimen.

A GPS Tracker Helps Gauge, Modify, and Share Routes

I know of plenty of individuals who have a favorite run, walk, or bike route that they can navigate blindfolded by foot or by wheel, but don’t know how to plot it on a map — or even how far it really takes them. A GPS tracker used in conjunction with a fitness device and an app that works with the data it collects — like Map My Run, to name one — allows such orienteering-challenged fitness enthusiasts to definitively track the length and route of that favorite run, walk, or bike route. In other words, it eliminates the guesswork and gives its user the cold, hard facts about their meanderings. Do they feel like they’re walking three miles, but twists and turns actually turn the route into five? Great! Keep up the good work. Do they feel like they’re walking five miles, but they’re actually only walking three? A GPS tracker with a fitness device can help them add to the route — for instance, maybe they can modify it to make a detour past the fresh juice stand — and set reasonable goals that can be equally monitored with precision.

These routes can then be shared with others, and the favorite routes of others can be shared, in return.

A GPS Tracker Keeps You Honest

Let’s not discount the power of peer pressure. If you’ve got friends — even ones who live in other parts of the world — who are also on a path to get fit, a GPS tracker used with fitness devices helps keep everyone a little more honest about their accomplishments and movement toward a particular goal. A little healthy competition between people trying to better themselves together can be a very potent motivator. If you have a fitness tracker that’s reporting every step you take — and where each step was taken — then you’re proving to the world, as well as yourself, that you’re taking care of business. Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley would be proud members of your fan club!

My analysis: the GPS tracker is certainly a boon to any modern fitness regimen. Hey, Big Brother already knows where you are, anyway! Don’t use fear of GPS as another excuse to keep you from staying active! If you have any tips, tricks, or comments about the GPS tracker — or even just fitness in general — please leave them in the comments below!