Tech to help meet New Year’s resolutions
It’s interesting that such a myriad of diversity surrounds the holidays, yet when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 (or is it midnight on Jan. 1?), the majority of the world’s population becomes focused on a singular goal: not spending the coming year feeling nor looking like a fat, disgusting pig. Yep. New Year’s resolution time.
Getting in shape is hard work, make no doubt about it. It’s the primary reason I’m not in shape. That and… yeah, pretty much just that. Seriously, getting in shape is hard work and it isn’t just the physical part of it that I am talking about.
You need to set goals, plan workouts and meals, juggle schedules around so that you can get into the gym or go on that walk. Then you need to make sure you are tracking your progress, find ways to maintain motivation when mirror-mirror on the wall isn’t really the best friend of all, and keep moving in a positive direction. I’m getting sweaty just thinking about it!
You would’ve thought that by now the human race would be advanced enough to figure out a way to make exercise, well, easier and less painful. While the gym of the Jetsons is still something to look forward too, there is some cool technology out there that can help you do some of the heavy lifting.
One thing anybody who is trying to get in shape needs is a bathroom scale; for all the grief it can cause, it truly is an indispensable tool.
Bathroom scales that are also able to measure body composition/body fat aren’t anything new; they’ve just gotten much more accurate.
Two new scales on the market, the FitBit Aria and the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale, add the convenience of wireless network connectivity. What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty simple but super-useful.
Basically, you step on the scale and let it take its reading. That’s it. But in addition to displaying the results on its face, the scale sends the data via your wireless network to your computer or your phone. Both systems have an online interface and an app for both Android and iOS, which collects and stores your data. While you are in the shower getting ready for the day, your scale is logging your body weight and composition.
Pedometers are another tool that have been around for a long time and just continue to get better with age.
There are a plethora of pedometers on the market — some old-school mechanical ones, and some up-to-date digital ones. But I’ve been looking at these devices for a while now, and think that there are only three manufactures worth looking at right now: FitBit, Jawbone and Nike.
Nike introduced the Nike+ system a few years ago and it was a pretty novel concept. You placed a small sensor in the footbed of a specially designed Nike shoe and then via Bluetooth, you could track your steps through an iPhone app. The only drawback was that you can’t really run the app all day to track your “everyday” activity; the battery just wouldn’t last.
So Nike introduced the Nike+ FuelBand, a small bracelet that you wear on your wrist that contains an even smaller sensor that tracks your daily movement. This data is synced up through your Nike+ account, which you can view online or via smartphone app. Like other Nike+ products, there is plenty of social sharing with the FuelBand through the Nike+ network or other popular channels.
The only drawback to the FuelBand is that it reports data back to you in a Nike proprietary metric – NikeFuel, as in: how much NikeFuel you have burned? How much NikeFuel is a calorie? No idea.
Staying with the theme of wrist wear, Jawbone’s UP is another sporty bracelet that can be worn all day, and night — in addition to tracking distance traveled, calories burned, and exercised intensity, the UP also is able to track how well you sleep.
Like the Nike FuelBand, the UP syncs up with an online account and an iPhone app (sorry Android users), but the UP is so much more than a pedometer.
The UP will track your sleep patterns and it will wake you when your body is ready to wake up by sensing when you are in a lighter sleep cycle; heck it will even let you take a quick nap and wake you up at the ideal time.
The app will let you track your food intake and mood level and combined with your exercise data, will then help you, “discover hidden connections and patterns in your day-to-day activities” using its “Insight Engine.” It even has a reminder system to help you get out of your chair and move around.
The UP is a pretty robust and complete system, and as such, lacks connectivity with other tools, which could be a disadvantage for some.
FitBit currently markets two activity trackers, the One and the Zip. Both measure distance traveled, calories burned and steps climbed. The One has the addition benefit of sleep tracking and wakeup alarms as well.
Both the One and the Zip are clip-on devices that can be placed on your belt, in your pocket, or beneath your clothing clipped to an undergarment. The One also comes with a wristband so that you can comfortably wear it at night.
Like the other devices, FitBit devices sync up with an online account and a smartphone app (both Android and iOS). And like the Nike+ FuelBand, both FitBit devices have social sharing capabilities.
All these devices can help you take a lot of the guesswork out of how active you really are throughout the day and make it easy to track and report on your progress.
Next time I want to show you some of the apps that you can use in conjunction with this hardware to help you, and possibly me, hit our get fit goals in the new year.
Wailes is an interactive developer at Burns Marketing Communications in Johnstown. If you have questions or would like to suggest a topic for a future Geek Chic column, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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