It’s September and, with kids returning to school, it seems timely to infuse our fitness routines with fresh, cutting-edge exercise and nutrition aids. Let’s embrace technology! Yes, technology can sometimes act as an obstacle to fitness – particularly when we consider how much time we spend sitting on our duffs as we consume it. But technology also can help us reach fitness goals in ways that were never possible before. So, this month, I challenge you to find an electronic-based fitness tool that speaks to you and give it a try. Here’s s tiny sampling of what’s out there:
For the Technically-Challenged
If this month’s small step sounds like a complete nightmare to you, don’t fret. There are lots of simple, inexpensive gadgets out there that do all the work for you and don’t require that you know what a USB, WiFi or app is. Many pedometers ($15-30) and heart monitors ($25-100) can be worn as a watch or armband and track your movements throughout the day. This type of device need not have much more than an on/off button and clock feature. But even the simplest of tracking tools have been proven to help motivate people to start moving and keep moving.
Examples: pedometer (Omron), watch pedometer (Smart Health), heart rate monitor (Polar). If you enjoy interval training, the Gymboss Interval Timer and Stopwatch ($30) makes keeping track of your high and low intervals a snap.
For Smartphone Users
The amount of fitness-based apps is dizzying. The best thing you can do is decide just what it is that you need an app to do for you to meet your fitness goals and then do a little research to find the best one available for your phone. The following is a sampling of free fitness apps available on my Windows-based phone:
- Stopwatch Timer: stopwatch, lap timer and countdown
- Gym PocketGuide: Encyclopedia of 100+ exercises and stretches available with photos, videos and step-by-step instructions
- Runtastic: GPS aided tracking of time, distance, speed, elevation and calories burned for outdoor workouts including biking, walking, hiking and running; also has a feature to manually input indoor workouts such as a cardio machine or strength training workout
- Active Fitness: A tracking app with a social network component boasting over 300K users
- MyFitnessPal: Tracks calorie input and output. Read about my experience using MyFitnessPal here.
- BeFit: Virtual fitness trainer with auto-generated training programs based on your fitness level with tracking and exercise voice prompts
For Gadget Lovers
You can keep track of an amazing amount of fitness variables if you’re willing to wear a tracking device (aka wearable)24/7 and upload the information to its accompanying website. These are pricier than a standard pedometer or heart-rate monitor, but prices have really dropped in the last year. What used to be in the $100-$200 range is now in the $80-$125 range.
They can track not only workouts and daily steps but hours/quality of sleep as well. Some allow the user to also input daily calorie intake so that these trackers can truly give one a big-picture look at her fitness.
They aren’t perfect, however. They can be inaccurate and some types of workouts, such as strength training, are difficult, if not impossible, for a wearable device to record. If you’re interested in a wearable tracking device, do your homework before purchasing.
According to Toppers World, the following are the Top 5 Best Selling Fitness Trackers and Wearables for 2015:
- Fitbit Flex & Sleep Wristband
- Misfit Shine
- Withings Pulse 02 Activity, Sleep & Hear Rate
- UP24 by Jawbone
- Runtastic Orbit 24
Click here, for Toppers Worlds’s complete Top 10 list and links for reviews and purchase options at Amazon.
It’s a brave new world out there and it’s ever changing. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that new gadgets and apps are coming out every day that can make a positive impact on our quests to be fit. Really, the most difficult part of this month’s small step is deciding which technology tool will work best for you. Once you’ve acquired it, the device does all the work for you.
If you’re new to the Small Steps series, you can read about the philosophy and strategies of the series here. Know the Small Steps strategies don’t need to be done in any particular order and are independent of one another. So, you can begin the series with this post, continue throughout the rest of the year and pick up what you missed next year.
Previous Small Steps posts: January’s Portion Control; February’s Plan Ahead; March’s Accentuate the Positives, Eliminate the Negatives; April’s Substitutions; May’s Go Old School; June’s +1; July’s Reflect, Revamp & Renew; August’s Reflect, Revamp & Renew Revisited.
Author’s Note: Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.