The name Marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in Battle in 490 BC. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming “we have wοn”. There is much debate about the historical accuracy of this legend. Devices available to today’s runners could have resolved this controversy.

If you have not yet acquired an activity monitor, the shelves are stocked with many options to fit almost any budget and style preference. Pedometers, heart rate monitors, activity trackers and GPS watches are the main categories out there today. The Garmin GPS watches and the Fitbit devices combine several of these functions. At the high end, the Garmin GPS watch actually tracks your route while you exercise and collects data like heart rate, altitude, calories burnt, VO2 estimation (and more) so you can optimize your training. The sleeker Fitbit is fitness device that uses an accelerometer, which is more accurate than a basic pedometer, and can be worn on your wrist or clipped inconspicuously to clothing while tracking things like: number of steps walked, flights of stairs climbed, and how deeply you sleep at night.

Many activity monitors on the market are able to sync to your cell phone or computer. The data is then available to review. Garmin products use a central app called “Garmin Connect” which keeps track of all your data, shows your progress, assists with training programs and offers opportunities to connect with thousands of other athletes. The Fitbit is compatible with over 20 apps so the user can chose which interface fits their training and fitness goals best.

Whether running marathons or strolling in the mall is your activity of choice, activity monitors certainly help us keep track of our movement throughout the day and help us stay accountable to reach our fitness goals. Wearing an activity monitor can help you stay on track with your fitness or training goals, and may be just the motivation needed to help you achieve success.

In March 2015, the In Motion Run Clinic will cover these types of devices in its focus on technology.

If you haven’t exercised for some time or you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. The Mayo Clinic offers advice on When to check with your doctor first.