If used correctly, technology can help us keep track of our health in many often unexplored ways.
From gadgets designed specifically for exercise to just a different use for everyday gadgets, making the most of the functions of the technology you already own can help you be more active and healthy.
You already carry your iPod along on your training runs to alleviate the boredom, so why not make full use of all the features it has? Newer models can be used in conjunction with a foot pod fitted inside compatible Nike running shoes to provide feedback on your run as well as help you keep a diary of your runs. During the run the system provides voice feedback so you can keep your eyes on the road, while workout information is uploaded to the Nike+ site once you sync your iPod, or wirelessly with the iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4.
Many runners run the same route day in and day out for no other reason than that they have measured the distance with a car, and therefore know that they are getting their 5k run in. However, running with a wrist-mounted GPS, these days no larger than a regular watch, allows one to get exact measurements for any running course while running. This not only provides accurate information on pace, but also allows runners to run wherever they please and still get the required distance in.
Heart rate monitors:
Although these have been around for a while, heart rate monitors are still a favourite among athletes, but also those looking to exercise to lose weight. The monitor keeps track of your heart rate, usually through a strap that goes around your chest. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a wrist unit which displays and records your heart rate. Most monitors also include the ability to set designated heart rate zones for training, so you can be certain that you are not overdoing it on your easy days, or loafing too much on the hard training days.
Going through lists of calorie values in a little book can be so tedious most people just give up and pig out on something high in fat and salt instead. Searching for nutritional information on the internet makes it much easier to find the relevant information, thereby increasing the chances that people will actually use the information to make mealtime decisions.
The same applies to eating out – although some fast food outlets will list the calories contained in their dishes, not all of them do, and regular restaurants will rarely do the same. However, anyone with a smart phone or Blackberry can look up the approximate calorie content and makeup of various dishes, thereby making better choices at the dinner table.
An excellent site to consult is nutrition.gov, which provides nutritional break-downs for various dishes and products.
There are numerous smart phone apps out there that can help you in your health and fitness pursuits, whether counting calories for you or tracking your exercising habits. Here are a couple of helpful and fun apps.
RedLaser (iPhone and Android):
Shopping for healthy food can also be made quite a bit easier armed with a smart phone. Apps liek RedLaser allows users to scan barcodes and immediately call up information on the product, including the presence of allergens in the food as well as the nutritional information.
Fast Food Calorie Counter (iPhone and Android):
The app allows you access to the nutritional information on some 9,000 items from 72 fast food outlets, so when you’re in need of a quick food fix you can at least see to it that you don’t wreck a month’s worth of dieting in one fell swoop.
Beer Gut Fitness (Android):
For those who tend to measure just how hard they have fallen off the dietary wagon by how many drinks they had on Friday night, this app breaks down your drinks in terms of how much of what type of exercise you need to burn off that beer. Although this might sound dire, it will also let you know when you have exercised enough to have earned a beer, not that most people need to be told that.
Absolute Fitness (iPhone and Android):
A somewhat more serious version of Beer Gut Fitness, this app allows you to track your calorie intake as well as calories burned during the day all in one easy app, making calorie counting much less of a chore.
Making better use of the technology available can make reaching your health and fitness goals somewhat easier. However, it cannot do the work for you, so get out there and get moving!