The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!

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Take a Hike: High Tech Gear for Your Backcountry Adventures

ImageAs the weather grows nicer in most parts of the country there are many avid hikers and backpackers who are itching to get out of town and hit the trails. For some of these people, it may be as simple as a day hike in a local forest or wilderness area, and for others it could be days or weeks spent in rugged backcountry.

Regardless of your personal hiking style, you’re fully aware of the things that you just cannot do without when on the trail. Water, food, and portable shelter are the big ones, but there are many new products on the market that can serve to enhance your experience, safety, and comfort. Once your hike goes high tech you may never hike in any other way.

Take GPS to the Next Level

Personal GPS devices have evolved to the point that most people cannot fathom a hike without one. They can be instrumental in route planning and in emergency situations. However, what if you could combine your GPS system with other useful technology?

Heart rate watches are used by athletes in almost every sport, and hikers can now take advantage of that as well. GPS enabled heart rate watches are available and are perfect for those who love being in the great outdoors. Whether you’re monitoring your heart rate for training purposes or for another reason, a heart rate watch with GPS features could be your new hiking buddy.

ImageWater Filtration Systems and Hydration Packs

If you’re taking a short hike it’s usually no trouble to carry enough water for the trip. However, if you’re planning a hike that is a day or longer it’s wise to bring your own water filtration device and/or purifier.

Many people believe that if you’re high enough in elevation and far enough from grazing animals or human traffic that you can almost always safely drink from fast moving water. That may not always be true, and it’s better to bring your own equipment. Many products on the market today filter bacteria and particulates and kill viruses in one step, which is always going to be the best choice.

Hydration packs have long been used by hikers, but now they’ve evolved a few steps further. Many brands offer filtration devices that can be combined with the hydration pack for ease of filling, which also eliminates the need to carry extra drinking vessels.

Smartphone Apps

We rarely go anywhere without our smartphones, including the backcountry. Thankfully, app developers have realized that apps serving the hiking and backpacking communities are good sellers, and there have been some great ones released recently.

For instance, want to know the name of a particular peak in your line of sight? There’s an app for that. Need maps of all the national parks? There’s an app for that too. There’s even a United States Army survival guide app available that offers possible solutions for every type of emergency.

While you’re planning your backcountry adventures remember to pack the essentials. When you’re done with that, be sure to consider some of these items that just might make your hike a little bit better and a lot more fun.


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How Heart Rate Monitoring Can Improve Your Training

In recent years health and personal fitness has gone from buzzword of the day to a high tech industry serving people from all walks of life. Everyone from professional athletes to die hard runners typically use one or more devices to aid them in their training and to help optimize their workouts.

One of the devices that you’ll see used by many is the heart rate monitor. These devices aren’t used for medical purposes; they’re used by those who want to track their heart rate and thus improve their training.

The human heart is a muscle and, as such, it grows stronger with exercise. Monitoring the heart’s function before, during, and after training can help athletes of all disciplines better understand their heart’s fitness level and adjust the training schedule accordingly.

Runningrunner with heart rate monitor

Runners can benefit from heart rate monitoring in several ways. Gauging the level of the heart rate in combination with the intensity of the exercise allows runners to adjust their schedules accordingly. As the runner’s heart rate decreases as the muscle grows stronger, the runner is then able to increase the intensity of the workout without reaching the threshold and risking injury.

Heart rate watches are a good addition to any runner’s arsenal. Not only does the watch monitor the heart rate, but they also include stopwatch and other features that are indispensable to the serious runner.


Cycling is one of the best exercises for overall fitness and remains one of the most popular forms of exercise as well. Heart rate monitoring is crucial to the avid cyclist in many of the same ways that it is to the runner, with a few added exceptions.

A cyclist’s heart rate can change frequently during a workout, especially on hilly terrain. It’s important that a cyclist uses the monitor to establish an average resting heart rate before he or she begins training with one. Once the averages are fixed, the monitor lets the cyclist know when the heart rate reaches optimum performance. When that figure is combined with distance, speed, and elevation information the training schedule can be customized around the information.


As with the other exercise disciplines mentioned, swimming is all about endurance and reaching peak performance. Swimmers also benefit from the use of a heart rate monitor in much the same way that runners and cyclists do.

Obviously a waterproof monitor is in order here, but those are widely available. Once donned, the monitor transmits the information to the watch or other device and records data. This can be very helpful in the training of swimmers by relaying information such as distance traveled and the time it took to do that, which is something that swimmers can’t check as easily as cyclists.

Heart rate monitoring is also useful for SCUBA divers. A diver can use a monitor to gauge when their  heart rate is higher, which means that the diver is consuming air more quickly and will have less bottom time. If a diver can monitor his or her heart rate over time he or she can actively work to reduce it, which means less air used over the course of the dive.

Every athlete strives to improve their performance across the board. Heart rate monitoring is a proven way for athletes to track their efforts and design training sessions around their peak performances. When workouts are approached this way, everyone is a winner.