The explosion of wearable technologies and fitness apps is revolutionizing the wellness industry. Devices and software can now perform many of the same tasks as a trainer, instructor or guru, and they can even connect us to communities of others who are trying to achieve weight loss, to gain some muscle, or just look better in front of a mirror. Reaching your fitness goals has never been easier.
For some, fitness devices have supplanted the whole idea of going to the gym, while others find that they are a useful supplement that provides data for tracking progress. Tony Horton has always been an advocate for high-quality, dependable wearable technology for fitness, and he knows choosing the right equipment can make a big difference.
Let’s look at the technology for fitness that’s available to support your goals, and then help you get the best out of them.
Reaching Your Fitness Goals This Year: How Can Technology For Fitness Help?
Back in 1979, runners and cyclists began using a brand-new technology which piped music from a cassette tape into their headphones. Sony originally named their ground-breaking device the ‘Soundabout,’ but the name that caught on was the ‘Walkman.’1 Forty years later, the market in technology for fitness is set to double by 2022. Estimates suggest that over 353 million people will be using fitness apps worldwide by then.2
Here are some of the technologies for fitness which can help you achieve your goals.
The most common way of using technology for fitness is for listening to music. Studies have shown that music (and, more recently, video entertainment) may have a significant positive effect on workout performance.3,4,5
Heart rate monitors are an excellent fitness tool. Understanding your heart’s behavior under workout conditions is an essential component for assessing the intensity of your workouts. Here’s how to do it:
- First, measure your resting heart rate. This is best done just as you wake up in the morning. For most people, this is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm), but for athletes, it could be as low as 40 bpm.
- Then, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if Sheri is 43, her maximum heart rate is (220 – 43) = 177 bpm.
- This gives your target heart rate zone, which begins at 50% of your maximum and can extend up to 85% depending on your fitness level and goals. For Sheri, this means she’s targeting a heart rate of 89-150 bpm during exercise.6 A doctor can help you fine-tune these numbers.
Many heart rate monitors can record your cardiac performance during workouts and create a database.
You could also try a pedometer to measure your daily steps, treadmill miles, and other workout stats. Studies have shown that a pedometer may help increase physical activity and decrease Body Mass Index (BMI).7 They now exist across a range of price points, so when reading reviews or trying out a device, look for:
- Accuracy: Calibrate the device by counting out 100 steps and see if it agrees with you.
- Battery life: Most small wearable devices need to be charged every day.
- An Onboard Log: This lets you assess your steps over a week or a month. This is key, because the trend in your fitness is more important than individual sessions or achievements.
- Cost And Features: Determine how much you want to spend and how complex or sophisticated the device should be. The display is a good clue, especially if it’s cluttered with additional options.8
Technology For Fitness: Fitness Trackers
If you want more recording and tracking of progress, try a fitness tracker. They are suitable for everyone and can be linked to a range of other devices. A fitness tracker is basically a pedometer with added sensors and GPS. Increasingly sophisticated, these devices can now incorporate calorie counters, sleep trackers, and other sources of data that should give you a rounded view of your health progress. A fitness tracker may help to:
- Remind you of your workout schedule
- Carry out computations based on your workout data
- Recommend exercise types, durations, weights, yoga poses, etc.
- Track your food intake, calorie expenditure, and even your hydration level
- Plot your progress toward today’s specific goal, or a longer-term ultimate goal.9
Fitness Technology Offers Plenty Of Options
Other examples of technology for fitness include an expanding range of apparel with embedded technology, including socks, anklets, and straps which record your activity, water bottles that track your hydration, and devices which send electrical signals that may provide post-workout muscle pain relief.10
There are even smart bathroom scales available, if you’d like another way to record and track your weight over time. Fitness mirrors offer data collection and an ideal view of your form, while stationary and recumbent bikes are a more expensive but useful home option.11
Set Goals And Track Progress: Apps Can Help You Keep Track Of Goal Setting
Setting fitness goals is a vital part of your program. Goals provide structure and help take the guesswork out of your fitness plan; they’re even more motivating when you set them yourself. Once your goals are fixed in your fitness app, they provide a set of intentions for your workout. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it. Reassess these app-delivered ‘smart goals’ in the light of experience, shifting the challenge so it’s more suitable for where you are now. Setting realistic goals may reduce the chance of failure.12
Technology For Fitness: Tech Can Help You Get Accurate Info And Even Analyze Your Input
Data is empowering, and understanding your fitness progress is a key component for success. More than ever before, applications are offering computational power, tracking, and logging. Some apps also include fitness recommendations and workout plans, acting as a sort of personal trainer. Some can monitor your heart rate through your phone’s camera, provide dietary recommendations, and link with other apps to measure your sleep, time spent sitting or standing, etc.
The app market is expanding rapidly to include new offerings such as social media integration, AI collaboration, and chatbot support.13 Reading reviews may help provide clues as to the best apps which will meet your particular needs.14,15,16
Using Technology For Motivation And Advice: Stay On Top Of Emotional Health On The Track To Fitness
One of the most powerful additions to your plan isn’t really a technology for fitness, but something intangible that many people find necessary for success: social support. The ability to link up with others who are on the same fitness journey is an important boost for accountability, enjoyment, and scheduling.17
During the Covid-19 crisis, millions of people are opting for online fitness and yoga classes, and this trend is set to continue, with groups organizing through apps, gyms, or websites.18
Getting The Most From Your Fitness Technology
Obviously, it’s more important to do your fitness program than to just measure it. Reminders and alarms can help keep you focused, but the motivation mostly comes from within. Technology can be a great guide, but it can’t do your workouts for you.
Before splashing out on expensive technology for fitness, try establishing a basic fitness routine. This way, you can use the technology to assist what’s already there, rather than creating a new system from scratch. There’s a danger of becoming obsessive about your statistics, at the expense of focusing on effort and intention during your workouts.
Build your motivation by accruing stars or points in your favorite fitness app, sharing your exercise results with others, and keeping your goals in mind.
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