It’s that time of year. Gyms are packed to capacity with sweaty patrons, and diet plans are everywhere because January 1 routinely inspires a new sense of resolve to take better care of ourselves.
For a “techie” who loves new technology, there are some fads I have fought along the way. I was a late Smartphone adopter, and I initially did not see a purpose in having a camera on my phone. Now I use Instagram daily, I keep an active Twitter account to hear chatter about things going on around Baltimore, and Facebook is a daily part of life. Ironically, the technology I love is now supposed to help motivate me to spend less time staring at it. It seems every electronics manufacturer and a few dozen startups have all put out some version of a health and wellness gadget. I’ve stopped short of wearing a fitness bracelet all the time, but do utilize some of the apps mentioned here. Taking better care of yourself doesn’t require a lot of technology – but maybe it can help along the way.
To keep track of your heart rate and the amount of movement of your day, check out the fitness watch called Wellograph (www.wellograph.com). These watches can stay powered for up to two weeks on one charge, and has a black and white OLED screen that can keep track of details for the last few months. For more detail, it can connect to a Smartphone app. Interestingly, this gadget is low key and functional enough to pair with a suit, according to the manufacturer. The Wellograph is due to be available this spring.
Another wearable gadget that has become very popular is called Fitbit (www.fitbit.com). The Fitbit Force is a pedometer and watch built in to a sleek rubber bracelet for just $129.95. This syncs wirelessly to your Smartphone and tracks your number of steps, calories burned, stairs climbed, and how active you have been through the day. It even tracks your sleep and has a silent, vibrating alarm to wake you at the best time. To go with the Fitbit band, there is the Fitbit Aria scale that tracks your body fat percentage and BMI. No fudging your scale numbers this time.
Similar wrist-tracking gadgets include the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP, Sony SmartBand, Razer Nabu and an upcoming product by LG called the Lifeband Touch. The Lifeband has the added benefit of connecting to your phone via Bluetooth and displaying notifications for calls, text messages, and controlling music on your smartphone.
Enjoy swimming? Do you miss having music when you work out? Check out the Finish Neptune water mp3 Player (www.finisinc.com), which uses a technology called Bone Conduction to transfer the music without earbuds. Not an awful price point either at $159.99.
Earlier this year, I mentioned the HAPIfork (www.hapi.com), an electronic fork that attempts to help you reduce your eating pace and help you lose weight. The device even tracks how long it takes you to eat, how many bites per meal, and how long between bites.
A separate and potentially expensive gadget is not always necessary to help you better keep track of your health. There are hundreds of health-based apps to choose from on any platform. Many of these are available on both Android and iPhone, just search for them in Google Play or the iTunes Store.
From apps that track calories to recipe apps, there is something for everyone. If you are concerned about tracking calories and number of workouts, try the free app called MyFitnessPal, which blends social aspects with a calorie and fitness tracker that helps you stay on top of goals. Fooducate can be helpful in making wiser decisions while shopping for groceries.
If you are a runner of any experience level, there are apps to help you track your progress and distance, many that incorporate the use of GPS to save routes and best finishes. MapMyRun and RunKeeper are both popular apps that are available on Android and Apple products. I have used MapMyRun, where you can also define what kind of movement you are doing – from “walk with the dog” to “run”. While I don’t have experience with it, there is also the Nike+ Running App.
For non running workouts, spice up your routine or help get a new one started with apps like Fitness Builder, Sit Ups Pro, or Pocket Yoga HD. Nike has also released an app called “Nike Training Club.” These all can help inspire you to try new exercises or focus on making time to take care of yourself. These are all great if you are looking for quick, easy exercises to do to squeeze in to your busy schedule.
All in all, these technologies might help. But in the end, it’s up to you to apply them. If you do not want to track yourself every moment of the day with a computerized device, but could use an extra few minutes to work out, then take the advice of Christian Stuart McEvoy, who spoke at MSBA’s 2013 Bar President’s Conference: Set aside five to 10 minutes, pick five exercises like crunches, pushups, mountain climbers, and do each for a set repetition or time amount. Take baby steps, make time every day, and get comfortable in a routine.