Top tech to get fit!
Updated: Jan 30, 2018
by Jennie Ward
We all start the new year with the best of intentions, but four weeks on from Auld Lang Syne, how many of us have actually kept up with our ‘New Year, New Start’ pledges to have a healthier lifestyle? (Go on, admit it, you know you made some!)
I’ve always thought January a particularly hard month to decide to get healthy – it’s cold and dark outside most of the time, making going for a run deeply unappealing, and spending an extra 20 minutes in bed each morning even harder to resist than normal.
That, usually, leads to a mad Home Alone-style dash to work/the school run and the inevitable visit to Pret for coffee and a cheeky croissant on the way (or is that just me?)
But before we all get too depressed, help is at hand! The health tech market has never been busier and, with a plethora of apps and gadgets out there all claiming to help you get fit for 2018, I thought I’d take a look at some of my favourites.
I hope some of these gadgets inspire you to be healthy and even, dare I say it, have a little fun while you do!
OK, so the Fitbit has been around for a while now, and there are a lot of pretenders out there, but there’s a reason why the original wearable fitness tracker is still the best of the bunch.
The new Fitbit Ionic, released in mid-2017, is a pretty impressive piece of kit, (albeit more expensive than any of the other Fitbits) and far more like a smartwatch with a fitness tracker built in.
You can use it to store and play up to 300 songs, so there’s no more need to carry your phone at the gym to play your fitness soundtrack, while built-in GPS can help you track how far you run and the routes you take if you prefer to run outside.
Even more impressive, a four-day battery life means you can go longer than ever before you have to charge it up.
If you’ve ever tried to listen to music while exercising, you’ll quickly have discovered how annoying it is when the tiny earpieces slip out of your ears, leaving you scrambling to catch them before you get tangled up in the wires. Or, worse, before the cable gets caught on something and drags your phone out of your pocket, smashing the screen on the pavement.
Bluetooth wireless headphones are all over the place these days, but even those often fall out of your ears, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stood on one of the earpieces by accident.
Apple now sells its AirPods for just such an occasion, but to me £165 just seems too expensive for something that has a comparatively poor battery life compared to some others on the market.
Instead, these U9 Bluetooth headsets from LNMBBS are great, with an ergonomic design and ear hooks that keep them securely in your ears. They have enough battery for eight hours of music, which is far more than most similar headsets, and are also noise cancelling, making them great for the gym or the morning commute.
If, like me, you’re surgically attached to your iPhone and genuinely believe that there’s an app for everything, then here are some great apps and sites I’ve been using for a while to help me get healthier.
For exercise beginners who want to get back into running, but don’t know where to start, the Couch to 5K app is a great running plan that helps you build up from doing no regular exercise to running 5K, in a nine-week training plan that means you can build up safely and without injury.
Created with the NHS, the plan is designed so that you do three runs each week, leaving at least one day of rest in between. You start out in week one mainly walking for 30 minutes, interspersed with brief bursts of running, then slowly build up until, by week nine, you’re running for a full 30 minutes. This is a great way to give you achievable targets and keep you motivated while you get back to regular exercise!
I’ve always hated diets, but MyFitnessPal is a great and easy way to watch what you eat, with a FREE calorie counter that helps you work out the calories and nutrition you consume every day, without having to trawl through the ingredients lists on the boxes of everything you eat.
Download the app and then you can scan in the barcodes of things you buy, or search by name through a database of over 5 million foods, and it will automatically track what you eat, helping you stick to whatever calorie limit you’ve set yourself.
You can get credit for any exercise you do in a day, and MyFitnessPal has a great community of other users you can interact with when you need that extra bit of inspiration to resist temptation, without having to actually set aside time to go to a weight loss class.
For any fan of The Walking Dead who wants to listen to more than just their ‘run fast’ playlist while training, Zombies, Run! is a quirky, but fun, way to pass the time while exercising.
Available through the App store and Google Play, the app is a first-person story game that you listen to through your phone while walking, jogging or running anywhere.
In the app, you star as one of the last surviving humans following the zombie apocalypse.
As a runner trying to reach the safety of a human outpost, you listen to the story play out as you run, and are sent on missions as you move, being sent out to gather supplies, rescue survivors and escape the oncoming horde of zombies.
A fun way to distract you as you’re pounding the pavement, the story unfolds over weeks as you run, with over 200 missions to get involved in, so that you barely notice the miles adding up as you look forward to the next instalment.
It’s not for everyone, but it made me smile when I tried it out, and not much does that when I’m on the treadmill!