Are you lacking motivation to get fit? Shorts a little tight? Bathing suit weather a concern? While nothing beats personal accountability face to face with your health care professional, technology can boost your workout and your consistency. It can even make it more fun. For those of you with a competitive side, it will spur you to tie up those gym shoes so you don’t lag behind your buds. The best news is that technology can help you reach your weight loss or fitness goals whether you are tech savvy or tech challenged.
The developers of fitness apps, bands, and bits have made this generation of tech toys easier to use, as well as being packed with new options for the tech guru. Many of the new tech applications, called apps for short, are easy to download from your App Store icon on your Apple product or from Google Play for Android phones. If you want to track your steps per day, there’s an app for that. If you want to monitor your heart rate during exercise or activity, you can do that with a fitness band. You can track the hours and the quality of your sleep with several fitness bands. Some progressive health professionals already use these tools in combination with their more traditional therapies.
Many of you may be familiar with how to track the pace and distance of your walk or run on our smart phone. But did you know that many of these applications can tie into your Facebook, a subgroup of friends, or even strangers to create the energy and buzz to ensure you meet your goals.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”, pined management expert Peter Drucker. While this statement holds true for business, it also works just as well for health and wellness success. You can use technology to quantify and measure all sorts of data. Whether you want to increase your fiber to 25 grams per day, lose six pounds in six weeks or increase your jogging pace to under nine minutes, there are oodles of apps to track your progress. Many of these apps are free. For just about any health goal you have, you can find an app that costs you nada. If you want a few more bells and whistles, it is usually less than $5 to upgrade to the full version for things like verbal coaching or to track other options.
If you are willing to spend more, you may opt for the fitness chips, wrists bands or monitors that are the stuff of sci-fi movies 20 years ago. They run $50 to $175, which is not cheap. However, when you consider that many of these apps provide information that was previously only available from medical software and equipment costing thousands of dollars just a few years ago, they seem a veritable bargain.
Let’s start with the Jawbone UP24. This lifestyle tracker is one of the easiest to use. When you wear the thin wrist strap it records your steps, your sleep, and if you log in your food, it also tells you your calories and nutritional information. It is in an easy to read format. The layout also gives you motivational tips based on your progress and trends. The Jawbone costs $149.99.
The Pulse O2 by Withings is super cool. It not only recognizes how many steps you take per day but also recognizes that all steps are not created equal. It takes into consideration the elevation and computes the calories you will burn based on your age, weight, and gender. One of the best things the Pulse O2 does it make the info available on your wrist and not just on your phone. It keeps track of your sleep, calories, and nutrition, but wow, it also measures your heart rate and blood oxygen level. This is great for the gym rat but it is also helpful for those with cardiac and respiratory issues. So, don’t think that these lifestyle tools are only for the young and buff. The Pulse O2 is the priciest at $165.
The disc tracker, Shine, was obviously designed by a girlie girl. The fairer sex figures if you are going to wear something all the time, it might as well look good. Shine is about the size of a quarter and fits into a wrist band, necklace or even your sock. Wonder of wonders, it even tells time. To see the day’s results, just sync your disc to your phone. Shine will advise you how to adjust your actions to meet your goals. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds before your high school reunion in 2 months, it tells you what course of action you must take to get there. You also earn points and the tracker lights up as you get closer to your goal. The Shine disc is $119, but the optional accessories add another $20 to $80 to the bottom line.
Push, is a tracker designed to maximize the results of the weight lifter. The Push armband keeps track of more metrics than your trainer, such as, reps, force, power, balance, velocity, etc. It will even tell you if you stop before you have reached your peak. This virtual coach is yours for $149.
The most affordable of the fitness gadgets is the Fitbug Orb. At just under $50, it tracks not only your steps but which ones are aerobic, which means you are actually burning fat. It also tracks walking speed, sleep, and pairs with an online digital coaching service.
The most well known and one of the pioneers of the lifestyle tracking tools is the Fitbit. It tracks all of the usual suspects; steps, calories, and sleep but also has teamed up with the American Heart Association and designer Tory Burch to add info and punch to the device. You can see your progress in real time on your phone or your computer. The Fitbit is priced at $99.
The point of all of these tools is to make fitness a lifestyle and to encourage you to get out there and get active. So….. what are you waiting for?