Make the Most of Exercise Technology
When it comes to getting fit, modern exercise technology can be a lifesaver if you want to work out at home, an increasingly popular trend. And, no, I’m not talking about purchasing expensive fitness machines—spending lots of money is far from a guarantee for losing weight.
Whether you’re looking at smartwatches, online training apps or virtual gaming systems, the trick is knowing how to make the most of the technology.
Smartwatches and heart rate monitors
From Apple Watch to Fitbit, dozens of smartwatch brands and models are on the market. Some offer just a heart rate reading, while others help you track and critique your performance during workouts.
The best part of wearable tech is that it gives you an easy way to evaluate your current habits and set new goals based on hard numbers.
Here are some guidelines:
Tips for purchase
Be honest about the functions you need. If you’re looking at something for general health, features like steps, activity time logged, sleep time and heart rate tracking are most helpful. There’s no need to purchase a fancy watch designed for triathletes if you don’t plan on tracking distance or altitude gains and losses. Also, most of these watches need to be charged, so consider how long you want a fully charged battery to last.
Tips for use
Most smartwatches feature their own apps to allow you to track your statistics from your phone, but some also offer integration with other apps. Look at what’s provided within your smartwatch and whether it might be beneficial to integrate with other apps and services, such as MyFitnessPal or Runkeeper.
Wearable tech options
Among the many different smartwatches available, each offers a variety of apps and services. The prices may vary depending on what you’re looking for, but you can find an option that will suit your needs. You might want to consider a shortlist that includes the following: Apple Watch Nike, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, Fitbit Versa Lite and Polar Ignite.
Apps and online training
If you’re always on the go with your smartphone in your pocket, you might as well put it to use.
Exercise apps on your phone allow you to stream workouts, get real-time feedback on your routine, and connect with other users for motivation and encouragement. Some apps can be used on multiple platforms, such as a website, your smartphone and a smart TV, while others might only be available on your smartphone, so make sure you decide which devices you want to use with your apps.
Tips for purchase
You have thousands of options for fitness apps, so it can be hard to make a decision. Ask around to see what apps and programs your friends use, and find out how they use them. Look for apps that allow you to connect with your friends during online training sessions—that will give you much-needed camaraderie and provide you with some accountability.
Tips for use
One of the reasons people often opt for working with a personal trainer or buying a gym membership is because staying committed to home workouts is tough. If you struggle to stay motivated, look for apps that let you set a workout schedule with alarms or provide personalized feedback and interaction with coaches or other users.
Apps and online fitness options
It’s almost impossible to know where to begin with apps and online options, and some are free while others require a subscription. Remember though, choose wisely because the last thing you need is too much clutter on your phone screen.
The best advice is to get recommendations from friends and family, ask them why they like a particular app, consider whether you would like that benefit and then try it. Even if you subscribe, you will probably be able to cancel after a month if you don’t like it.
Again, good recommendations are based on personal needs, but to get on a good path, review the following: Peloton Digital, Daily Burn, CorePower Yoga and Centr.
Not everyone gets hyped about logging time on a treadmill or hitting the gym to lift weights. For people who are looking for a different kind of motivation, gaming systems can encourage physical activity while offering fun storylines and opportunities to “level up.” Fitness games can be found through apps and virtual reality headsets. You just have to figure out which system and fitness games will keep you the most motivated day after day.
Tips for purchase
Gaming systems are likely to work best for individuals who legitimately enjoy playing games. Often, the novelty of a game draws a person in for the short term but fizzles with time. A good rule of thumb is to try before you buy—see if you can borrow a friend’s system so you can find out how much you enjoy it before you get sucked into the expense of buying your own. If you think you’ll use it three or four days a week, purchasing a system and some games will be a smart investment.
Tips for use
If you’re looking for virtual reality (VR) games, check out the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise. This organization tests virtual reality games and compares them to other common forms of exercise, such as running, using an elliptical and so forth. You can make your own evaluation of how much you might like a game by reading the institute’s reviews.
Gaming system options
You may be familiar with gaming systems, as most have been around in some form or another for decades, so focus on the games you might want to play because not all of them are available for each system. This is especially true if you’re thinking of investing in a virtual reality headset.
If you’re going the VR route, take a look at the Oculus Rift S or Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets, or the Playstation VR along with the PS5 console. Other gaming consoles you may like include Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U and Xbox.
While exercise technology may not be completely necessary for a well-rounded workout regimen, it can be very helpful for keeping your workouts interesting. There’s nothing wrong with mixing things up to keep your attention on the real goal, which is to get 150 precious minutes of exercise each and every week.
So, if it’s raining outside and that’s going to get in the way of a healthy walk, take a virtual walk on a gaming console. Given the almost perfect renderings of the newer apps, you may not even notice the difference!