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Fitness Tools for Every Athlete

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8. Body Fat Monitors

Several of the latest fitness gadgets claim to measure body fat using electrical impedance of the skin. Their accuracy hasn't been tested by independent researchers, however. And even manufacturers acknowledge that body fat monitors may not provide reliable measurements for body builders, elite athletes, post-menopausal women, older people, and growing children. At best, personal body fat monitors only tell you if you are losing or gaining body fat over time.

Which Fitness Tool Is Right for You?

Do your homework before plunking down your money for an expensive fitness device. The best companies provide information about products on their web sites. Be skeptical of anecdotal evidence or personal testimonials about how great the gadgets are. Whenever possible, look for controlled scientific studies.

"The majority of these gadgets have not been tested in controlled studies," says Jackson. "So it's up to the customer to try to get reliable information." If a device sounds too good to be true, says Jackson, it probably is.

Here's something else to remember. High tech gadgets can't make you fit. "They're a great way to tell how intense your workout is and to track your progress," says Carpenter. "They can also offer a great motivational tool." But in the end, staying fit and improving your performance still requires hard work and commitment.

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Reviewed on June 19, 2012

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