Is a GPS useful when walking?

A GPS would be a great idea for long walks and doing trails. It's so easy to get lost when you are in unknown territories. Most of the new GPS watches also track your distance traveled, calories burned, max heart rate, the time it took you to get from A to B and your fastest pace. They're helpful with tracking and performing cardio routines like interval training. GPS systems come with software that you can use to log your workouts and track your improvements. Best of all if you have a bad sense of direction, it's a great investment.

A GPS can always be useful!  It seems that I often go out for adventures on my bike and seem to take a wrong street which leads me all over the place.  A GPS would help me avoid adding extra miles; the extra exercise is great being able to follow the direct route would be nice on the occasion.

Using a GPS while walking will vary for each individual.  Do you plan a short walk, 1 mile or less, or are you planning a long walk, 5 miles or more?  If you are going for a short walk and the route seems fairly straight then you can easily retrace your step.  However, if the route is longer and in an area you have never been, then a GPS can be beneficial to help you get back to your starting point.  Another factor to keep in mind will be the time of day.  If walking during the day and if you have food and plenty of hydration then enjoy!  If you are walking and it will be dark within a short timeframe then having that GPS will prevent you from having to find you way back in the dark.

Amy Balka, MD
Family Medicine
A GPS can be very useful in walking if you are unsure the path you are taking or if you want to track your walking route or mileage. 

A GPS is good for walking when you need a map and directions and to accurately measure your mileage walked. Finding a new route is easy and fun. A GPS will measure your time, distance walked and pace, some will measure your heart rate, calories burned and keep a record of your mileage. Receiving feedback may motivate you to go farther and faster, be healthier and possibly live longer.

I find a gps incredibly useful in my walking.  It tells you exactly how far you have gone, and the speed that you were walking.  This way you can gauge your improvements in cardio fitness.  There are applications available for smartphones that are free, that work very well.  If you would like a recommendation, email me. 

I, also, have a garmin forerunner.  I find this tool extremely useful, because you can program your workout, so that if you have to spend 10 mins at one heart rate level, and 2 mins at another, and 3 at another, you can program the garmin to tell you when to change your level.

My recommendation is to use the free application on the smartphone, and then if you find it useful and want more, then invest in garmin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.