Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen, University of Utah
With the ever-growing abundance of technological advances nowadays, it makes sense that the world of fitness has also leaped into the 21st century. While there are people who still like to take a more traditional approach to working out by going to the gym and taking exercise classes, there is a whole new bevy of technological gadgets and applications out there to help you attain your fitness goals.
Perhaps the king of all new fitness technology is the fitness tracker or its more sophisticated cousin: the smart watch. These devices allow you to take your fitness out of the gym and incorporate it into your everyday life. No more complicated than wearing a watch on your wrist (and in fact, most models also act as a regular watch), these devices track everything from the amount of steps you took that day to your heart rate to the quality of sleep you get at night (if you don’t take it off). Many of these fitness devices have coordinating apps that you can download on your phone and your data will be sent to the app, making it easier for you to track the patterns of things like steps walked and your heart rate during those activities. Some models are so advanced that they are coming very close to medical grade and may even be able to alert you to a medical problem.
To coordinate with your newfound interest in fitness, there are a whole host of apps that make fitness on the go much easier, practically negating the need to ever set foot in a gym. Consistently noted as one of the best apps for preparing the uninitiated for marathon running is an app called Couch To 5K. This is a nine week program with an ultimate goal of getting you running for 5 kilometers without a break. The app starts you off with intervals of walking interspersed with intervals of running until you can comfortably run the full 5 kilometers.
If you really are the type of person who would go to the gym regularly if you could but you just can’t find the time to get there, a great body building app is called Jefit Workout Tracker. One of the benefits to the app is that it has the ability to create a more personalized workout routine for you because it analyzes the statistics of your previous workouts–like weight, reps, and length of time. The app also allows you to track your overall progress via pictures and body statistics tracking. For those who need a little bit of extra motivation, they even offer a social component of an online community for people to compare their stats and offer encouragement to one another.
But even if you’re really a couch potato at heart, there’s a gadget for you. Nintendo recently released a Wii add-on called Ring Fit Adventure. Part role-playing game and part mini gym, the app lets you control certain parts of your avatar’s motion by controlling a device called the Ring-Con. You can press the Ring-Con to your abdomen to defend yourself from attackers. Each time you level up, you unlock more exercises that are geared towards different parts of your body. As an added bonus, if you don’t feel like playing the game but enjoy the exercises it gives you, you can switch to the game’s general fitness routine mode where you are still assisted by the game but don’t have to go through the levels.
For those who would like to do a full workout but don’t have the added time, patience, or energy for one, there are a popular bunch of applications advertising seven-minute workouts. They feature a series of twelve different exercises that each target different areas of your body. Because it’s a short workout, it’s meant to be fairly intense so while it may not be good for someone just starting out on their fitness journey, it can be beneficial for the regular gym goer who can’t make it once in a while.
Even if you are the type of person who takes a more traditionalist approach to life, there’s no harm in incorporating some of these new apps and gadgets into your routine. They certainly make it easier to keep fit while you’re on the move.