This month’s Small Step challenges you to harness the power of technology in your quest to get fit. But there are so many choices and some of them require a significant investment of money, time or both. Which option is best?
Before investigating your options, you need to narrow your choices. Ask yourself these questions:
- What area of fitness is the biggest challenge for me right now? Are you having trouble taking control of what you eat, when you eat it and how much you eat? Are you struggling to establish a consistent exercise regimen? Or have you set a goal – a 5K, triathlon or marathon – but overwhelmed by the task of planning your training schedule?
- What would offer the most value for me? Do you need a device or app that will save you time or money? Or do you need something that will make the complicated simpler or the difficult more convenient?
Let’s apply these questions to a few hypothetical ladies at different stages in their fitness journeys, so you have some practical examples of how to select the right tech-based fitness tool for you.
Candice is a business executive who works long hours. She’s been able to take control of her diet but less successful at establishing an exercise routine. She believes she could enjoy walking for exercise but something always seems to come up to foil her plan to walk during her lunch hour. And she’s too exhausted at the end of the day to be motivated to get in a walk long enough to count as a workout.
Candice would benefit from understanding that 60 minutes of walking at ten minutes at a time six times throughout a day is just as beneficial as walking for one hour all at once. But it’s not practical for her to try to keep track of all her walking throughout the day. If she wore a pedometer every day, she might realize that she’s taking a lot more steps than she knew. She’s also likely to find ways to add to her total steps each day that don’t interfere with her work schedule. In fact, in her attempt to add steps to record on her pedometer, she’ll find that the extra movement helps to clear her head and make her more productive when she returns to her desk. Eventually, this may give her the energy and motivation to add more steps after work as well.
Before Sheila became a mom, she was a consistent gym-goer. She’d catch classes or grab a cardio machine several days a week before or after work at the full-service club conveniently located between her office and apartment. Lots has changed since she became a mom, including her ability to get back to a regular exercise schedule. She quickly learned that it wasn’t a mere coincidence that she found the gym so convenient when she was a working single – gyms cater specifically to that demographic. The gym location and class times are now the opposite of convenient for Sheila.
Sheila has a history of being able to stick to an exercise plan when she has convenient access to structured classes. A subscription-based app, like the Daily Burn, would give her access to virtual trainers and a full menu of workouts on her phone, tablet or laptop that she can fit into any day when it’s most convenient for her. With one less income in the household, the added bonus is the cost savings. The average monthly gym membership is close to $60 compared to a $15 monthly subscription to the Daily Burn.
Paula was a team sports athlete in high school and college. Since graduating, she’s found new ways to feed her competitive spirit and love of exercise. She’s competed in several short to mid-distance running races and has decided she wants to begin to train for her first marathon. She’s working with a trainer to develop her training plan and has researched the diet and hydration requirements for marathon training and racing. But, it’s a lot of information to track and she’s worried she might miss an important variable that could affect the quality of her training.
Paula is a perfect candidate for a wearable fitness tracker. A performance-based wearable, such as the Fitbit Surge, would use GPS and built-in heart rate monitor to track and record multiple variables in all her training runs, as well as her sleep quality – an important, but often overlooked, factor in performance training. She also wants to make sure she’s meeting her fueling and hydration goals. If the tracker she chooses doesn’t have nutrient input capability, she can track her calorie and macronutrient intake for free through an app, such as MyFitnessPal, or on the USDA’s SuperTracker website.
The tech fitness tool inventory is seemingly limitless. While that means there is likely the right tool out there for each person, it also means a lot of people may choose a tool that’s not really going to benefit them. But, by asking yourself a few questions and doing a little research, you can harness the power of technology to meet your fitness goals.