Peta Bee on top-of-the-range fitness products

1: Heart rate monitors

To some extent, you pay for what you get. Basic models will simply measure your heart rate and tell you howlong you have been running. Some monitors will calculate your own training zones. Others count calorie use. "Move up in budget and monitors will record the minute-by-minute progression of your heart rate for you to look at after your run," says Sean Fishpool, editor of "At the very top end, you can download your heart rate information on to a PC and turn it into graphs and charts." All have a chest strap which transmits data to a wristwatch (that doubles as a stopwatch).
How much to spend: £40 for a heart rate-only monitor: up to £125 for one with a full-blown memory and extra settings such as a download option for your PC. We tested a £200 model which was so fiddly we wished we hadn't.
Best Buy: Polar FS2C, £34.50

2: Trainers

There is no need to spend more than £100 for the bells and bangles on expensive shoes, says consultant podiatrist to UK Sport, Trevor Prior. In fact, it is better to buy two pairs at around £60 and alternate their use. But do not buy the cheapest shoes around either as they will not provide the cushioning and support your feet need. "It's best to visit a specialist sports shop where they can advise on the appropriate shoe for your sport and feet," Prior says. A major cause of trainer trauma is badly fitting shoes. Always try them on in the afternoon or evening when your feet are at their most swollen and wear your regular sports socks. They should feel snug but not tight. "Trainers should fit closely around the instep, without any excessive up and down movement at the heel," says Anne Stephens of the Chartered Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. Remember, trainers have a shelf-life. "They need to be replaced every 300-500 miles," says Prior.
How much to spend: £55-£70
Best Buy: Asics Gel 1110, voted best buy by Runner's World magazine (£70; stockists: 01925 243360)

3: Swimming goggles

These are designed to serve two main purposes - protecting your eyes from chemicals, harmful rays and damaging lights (when outdoors), and allowing you to see more easily underwater. Spending a fortune is not necessary, but finding the perfect pair is a case of trial and error. The best goggles are those that fit comfortably without leaking, but what works for one person is not necessarily going to work for another. Even goggles that appear to fit well in the shop can prove to be a poor fit when swimming. According to the Amateur Swimming Association, a quick test is to take the goggles out of the packet, lean over so your face is down towards the floor and then press the eye cups into your eye sockets. Let go and they should stay in place. You can make adjustments to the spread of the eyepiece, but if the goggles do not hold without the strap, at least for a few seconds, they probably will need a very tight strap to keep the water out. A recent report in the Postgraduate Medical Journal listed ocular injuries induced by too-tight, ill-fitting goggles including swollen eyelids, bruising and temporary vision loss.
How much to spend: £8-£12
Best Buy: Aqua Sphere Kaiman (£9.99;

4: Pedometers

Accumulating 10,000 steps (about five miles) a day is recommended as a healthy threshold by many experts, but accurately measuring those steps with a pedometer can be tricky. According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), a pedometer costing less than £1 overestimated the number of steps taken by as much as 1,034%. A study of 973 Stepping Meter pedometers found only a quarter gave measurements within an "acceptable" 10% margin of error, while threequarters over or underestimated by more than 10%. Most of the invalid devices overestimated rather than underestimated how much exercise someone had done.
How much to spend: Dr Kristien De Cocker of Ghent University in Belgium, who carried out the BJSM study, says that pedometers costing around £14 should be accurate.
Best Buy: Timex SE021 pedometer (£15.99;

5: Sports bras About 80% of British women don't get enough support in their workouts, yet this is one garment that should not be skimped on. According to research conducted this year at the University of Portsmouth, the average breast (a 36C) weighs 300g and moves, in a fancy figure-of-eight fashion, around 9cm from the body during every step taken on a treadmill. Over time, too little support could lead to irreversible sagging. Failing to wear a sports bra could limit your workout: a study in a journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, showed thatwearing badly designed and ill-fitting bras for physical activity can affect breathing, posture and technique. Researchers at the University of Wollangong in Australia found that a supportive, specialist sports bra reduced pain and movement in the breasts by 50% compared with crop tops and regular bras.
How much to spend: You can get a good bra for under £25. In a Guardian test last year, a £6 Asda job was rated higher than brands costing four times the price.
Best Buy: Triumph Tri Action, £20

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