With a growing number of gadgets on the market, the world of health technology can be confusing. Here, we see how things like fitness bands can help you get in shape…
Keeping fit used to mean spending hours in the gym with little or no sign of whether your hard work was paying off.
But an increasing number of mobile and wearable devices are changing that by recording and helping you to understand fitness data, highlighting your day-by-day progress.
This health technology comes in three main forms:
Apps – Software applications you download to your smartphone or tablet that monitor everything from weight to blood pressure. See the NHS health apps library for more information.
Fitness bands – Lightweight wristbands worn all day and all night. They tell you how many steps you take, the number of hours you sleep, how far you travel and more.
Sports watches – A more serious piece of kit than fitness bands, these are used mainly when training and keep track of things like average speeds and personal best times.
And with the three of the biggest technology companies – Google, Apple and Samsung – all launching fitness apps last year, the future is definitely bright for this area of health care.
How to get the best from your gadget – 5 tips:
1. Set targets and goals
Why? Setting fitness goals can help motivate you to stick to achieving the 150 minutes of exercise the NHS recommends you do each week.
Many health commitments fail because of a lack of focus or because we struggle to fit them into our day-to-day lives.
But with fitness apps and gadgets, you can set yourself daily goals to achieve and also set exercise reminders.
Try: You can programme speed and distance targets with the TomTom Runner watch, which will vibrate when you’re about to beat your personal best record.
2. Watch what you eat
Why? Eating badly can increase your risk of everything from type 2 diabetes to heart disease.
It can sometimes be difficult to keep track of how well you’re eating, especially as many everyday foods contain hidden calories that you may not even know about.
There are loads of apps out there that make it easy to log what you have eaten and so help you to achieve your target weight.
Try: Scan barcodes on food and drink with the UP App that comes with the Jawbone UP 24 fitness band.
3. Sleep soundly
Why? Getting about eight hours of quality sleep is essential to our health, and according to a study from the Mental Health Foundation, helps boost our concentration and strengthen our immune systems.
Good sleep comes from spending enough time in each of the three stages – light, deep and REM.
Fitness bands can measure duration and quality of sleep, giving you an indication of whether you need to change your bedtime routine.
Try: Send sleep statistics to your computer with the Fitbit Flex.
4. Manage your weight
Why? With figures from the Lancet medical journal suggesting some 67% of men and 57% of women in the UK are now obese, it’s more important than ever to watch your weight.
If you’re looking to lose weight, there are a range of super-smart scales on the market which can help you.
Try: The Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale will automatically send weight information to your computer and display it in an online graph.
5. Keep an eye on your heart rate
Why? According to the NHS, a resting heart rate of between 60 and 100 beats per minute is normal. As fitness improves, heart rate goes down.
Some sports watches allow you to check your own heart rate without the need for a separate chest strap.
Try: TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio has its own built-in heart rate monitor.
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