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Top Music Players for Gym-Goers

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Updated October 13, 2010

I discovered how crucial music is to my exercise routine when the batteries on my MP3 player died right in the middle of a workout. Without my favorite tunes, that treadmill got mighty boring...but it gave me some time to look around the gym and see what everyone else was doing. As I suspected, almost everyone had some form of music player, which inspired me to list some of my favorite music players and accessories for exercisers.

1. Haier America Trainer

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I ran across this little gem as I was searching for a new MP3 player and love all the extras it has for exercisers. It's small and light and comes with a built-in clip to keep it from bouncing around. It includes a radio, MP3 playback, a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, a stopwatch and it also includes fitness-tracking software (which only works with Windows). The heart rate function works by touching the sensor to get your pulse, so you don't get a continuous heart rate reading. There have also been some complaints about the accuracy of the pedometer and the inability to create playlists (which seems like a pretty big oversight) but, for around $55-$75, it's not a bad deal.

2. iPod Nano

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The Nano is another great choice for exercisers because it's tiny, holds tons of music (depending on how much memory you get) and it weighs almost nothing. My husband has one, and I often use it for running workouts because I can put it in my pocket and it doesn't bounce around. It comes in a variety of colors and my husband recommends you get the most memory you can to avoid overdosing on the same songs. The only drawback is that there is no radio and, even if you use a protective sleeve, it will probably get scratched up at some point.
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3. iPod Shuffle

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The shuffle is definitely a bare bones MP3 player that doesn't allow many choices. There is no display; it just shuffles through all your music so you never know what's coming next. I really like this concept, and I think this is a good choice if you love every song that's in there and also enjoy surprises. It's also smaller than a pack of gum, so it's easy to stash in your pocket for workouts. If you like more control about what you're listening, you may want one of the other choices.
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4. Sandisk Sansa MP3 Player

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The SanDisk Sansa e-series is another good choice for exercisers. It works much like an iPod with a dial in the middle and the ability to upload music and make playlists. But the difference is you can pay for a subscription to Rhapsody.com to get all kinds of great music (there's also a free subscription). It includes a radio, something I wish came with the Apple MP3 players, and it also includes music channels you can set up yourself in the accompanying software. For many reasons, I actually like the Sansa better than my iPod. But I do wish I could use it with iTunes sometimes. Oh, and it's also small -- not as small as the Nano, but close.

5. Sony Sports Radio Headphones

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This one is a great choice if you don't want a lot of extra wires or equipment hanging around. These are simply headphones with a built-in radio. The headphones are designed specifically for active folks and it offers 30 station presets. Best of all, the local/distance (DX) switch allows optimal reception from signals near or far. It is a great value, and perfect for exercisers.
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