With the arrival of September many people make a list of good purposes and among them is usually to lead a healthier life, go to the gym, start running or even prepare a race. Playing sports requires perseverance and dedication, but sooner or later the results begin to be seen. If you are one of those who start from scratch or you are looking to improve your brands, surely you have decided to buy a watch with GPS to play sports.
In the market, we find models of specialized brands and others more general with a wide variety of features and prices. Which one best suits your current and medium-term needs? In this guide, we help you make your decision.
Activity wristbands and smartwatches provide an estimate of our daily activity continuously: steps, calorie consumption, distance traveled and even some monitor sleep. On the contrary, GPS clocks are able to track distance, but only when we activate them. The reason? The activation of GPS consumes a lot more battery than the accelerometers present in the low range of smart wristbands (eye, because some high-end smartwatches also include GPS)
In this way, GPS clocks are used to control specific activities such as running, climbing or golf and they do it much more accurately. Likewise, GPS clocks provide other advanced metrics of the exercise: pulsations, unevenness or even our maximum oxygen consumption.
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What features to check before buying a watch with GPS?
Although there are parameters common to the set of watches with GPS, there are specialized watches for running, golf, water sports, mountain. so before deciding on a watch or another, first think about what sport you are going to use it and with what intensity and often you are going to do it.
It is one of the most important parameters. If we want our watch to measure how our training is being done, we need to be able to measure it from start to finish. Thus, if we are preparing a marathon or hiking the mountain, the minimum is that its autonomy covers those hours of activity.
Manufacturers provide a guideline autonomy that could differ from the actual use we give, however, we must always pay attention to the autonomy with GPS in use, which will be much lower. Taking into account that the autonomy provided is an approximation, it is key to opt for popular models of reference brands, so that we can count on the reference of previous models and the feedback of other users in similar training.
Some models of watches with GPS include maps to be able to see where we are and what the route has been, with information such as slope, geographical features, roads, thermal (show the busiest routes), etc.
This feature is usually found in mid-range or high-end watches, usual brands with experience in developing browsers that provide updated and complete maps. Also, there are also GPS clocks with specialized maps, for example, some specific golf models integrate maps of the main fields.
The most interesting feature of this function is the possibility of marking routes to follow during the activity, something that will help us not to get lost and fulfill the planned route. It is not a fundamental characteristic unless your activity is outdoors, as in high mountain.
Some GPS clocks measure the height at which we find ourselves and the altitude history of our training, an important characteristic for those who practice mountaineering, cycling or trail running.
While the most basic use GPS, the most precise combine the GPS with an integrated barometric altimeter to offer a more accurate height thanks to atmospheric pressure. It is one of the most premium features, so it is usually present in the most expensive models.
Certain GPS clocks are able to provide training metrics designed to monitor it in depth to improve our technique .. Some parameters collected are:
- Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute with both feet. The cadence helps determine if you run properly. A faster cadence has a lower impact on the knees, hips, and ankles. According to exceptions, 180 steps per minute is an optimal cadence from an efficiency point of view.
- The length of the stride is how much you move for each step you take. The more cadence, the shorter the stride length.
- Vertical Oscillation: Shows how much we move vertically when we run. The less we rise with each step, the more efficient we are and the less energy we waste. In addition, a lower oscillation implies less impact on the joints. It is measured in the torso thanks to the sensors used for the pulsations.
- VO2 Max or maximum oxygen consumption (aerobic capacity): is the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can provide to your muscles. The greater aerobic capacity, the better because you can work faster. Low values show a low physical form.
- Contact time with the ground: the milliseconds that your feet stay in contact with the ground in front of the time that you “fly” while you run. It is related to the way of running, the cadence and the length of the stride. While amateur runners reach values of 160-300 milliseconds, professionals achieve 200 ms or less.
- Lactate Threshold: The level of effort from which fatigue accelerates. Measure your resistance.
- Recovery time: is the period that your body requires to recover from a workout. After each workout, the device tells you how many hours you have needed to return to 100% of your capacity.
- COPD or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: after training, your body consumes more oxygen than when it is at rest. The COPD measurement provides this required time and is related to the recovery time of the muscles.
Taking into account their exposure to sweat and inclement weather, it is normal that most watches with GPS are resistant to water, but not with the same degree of resistance. However, there is still some model focused on running with limited resistance.
With most, we can get into a swimming pool and swim, but there are specific models that support deeper diving and open water activities.
While some models specify at what depth they can submerge in meters, others use atmospheres as is usually done with traditional watches:
- 5 Atm. Supports splash, rain or snow, swimming, diving, snorkeling. Unsuitable for diving and high-speed water sports.
- 50 Atm. Supports splash, rain or snow, swimming, diving, snorkeling, and high-speed water sports. Unsuitable for diving.
- With the standard EN13319 (for diving): Supports splash, rain or snow, swimming, diving, snorkeling, and high-speed water sports and diving.
Although it is a secondary feature in this type of watches, all are integrated with our mobile phone to notify us of calls or messages, as well as to store the data related to our training through connectivity and a dedicated app of the manufacturer.
Design and materials
A fundamental aspect is the size of the box because usually, this type of watches are usually quite large and bulky (40 mm and above), with an aesthetic that borders on the military. If you have a small doll, some editions have several sizes, although it is not frequent.
A watch that we are going to use to make activities that involve dust, sweat and blows must be resistant and comfortable for sports. For the most part, the strap is silicone hypoallergenic to avoid any skin reaction to be in continuous contact with skin wet with sweat. The boxes of these watches with GPS are made of plastic, although there are more premium editions that use more premium materials such as stainless steel or fiberglass.